Let’s be honest, romantic relationships aren’t a walk through the park.
Although you wish every moment of your relationship could be like John Legend’s “All of Me,” it’s very unrealistic. Every healthy relationship will have obstacles and arguments.
However, how you handle those obstacles will either make or break a relationship. I’ve rounded up our four key foundations of building a strong, healthy relationship.
1. Emotional Communication
No, I’m not referring to the type of communication of constantly letting your partner know what you’re doing or where you’re going like you would have back in high school. I’m talking about an emotional communication. It’s important to have an emotional “check up” with your partner as often as necessary. You could cover points such as how you’re feeling in the relationship, things that are going well and things you would like to work on.
However, emotional communication is not a session where you’re “pointing fingers” at your partner’s wrong-doings caused by bottled up anger or frustration. Approach your relationship’s obstacles in a way that is open and non-accusatory to avoid unnecessary arguments. Like they taught you in grade school, you could use the sentence structure, “It makes me feel [insert your emotion] when you do [thing that is upsetting you]. What can we do to fix this?”
It’s also essential to partake in sexual communication if you and your partner are sexually active, as it’s a way of being certain that you and your partner are on the same page of comfort level during, before and after sex.
2. Schedule Time For Each Other
With work and other responsibilities, it’s extremely easy for partner’s to get stuck in their own routine that leaves little or no time to bond. If you do not spend quality one-on-one time with your partner, that leaves no room for growth in your relationship. Set aside time every week where you can both reflect, talk, and just hang out. Make new memories. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner date, ordering Chinese takeout and watching Netflix together can be just as fun.
If you’re living with your partner, it’s common for couples to form a routine like eating dinner together every night and then plopping in front of the TV until it’s time for bed. Having a routine calls for comfort in the relationship, but it can also become boring. In that case, I recommend planning at time at least once a week where you can both get out of the house. Go for a stroll in the park, grab a bite to eat, or go see a movie. You’ll find it’s amazing how small and simple changes in a routine can make all the difference.
3. Compromise After Disagreements
This can be difficult depending on the disagreement; however, it can never hurt to compromise. It’s important to make sure that not one person is in control of the arguments, in which he or she is always gets their desired outcome. If one person is more dominant or constantly has the final say in crucial decisions, the relationship could be unhealthy or moving toward that direction. If ever possible, try to find a solution which the outcome can be a bit of both in your favor.
Try to avoid what I like to call “baby disagreements,” which is more common in married couples or couples that live together. “Baby disagreements” are small arguments that occur that don’t really matter in the big picture of life. It includes fights over who needs to take out the trash, do the dishes, or complete the grocery shopping. In the moment of a heated argument it can feel frustrating, however, I strongly advise to take a step back and reflect. Is this truly worth your time and energy?
4. Mutual Trust and Honesty
Trust and honesty go together like peanut butter and jelly—they need each other. Trust that your partner is being truthful, and in return, be honest with your partner. A solid relationship cannot be built off of dishonesty or the constant suspiciousness of dishonesty. Once that “circle of trust” is broken, it’s very difficult to fix the damage and regain it back to normality.
Building trust is all about being open, vulnerable and willing to take a chance. However, you’re usually more likely to trust a person if you sense the person trusts you in return. If your partner tells you private information, mentally they are figuring out if you can be trusted with this, and eventually trusting you with larger information in the future. In any relationship, trust, reliability and honesty are crucial when your partner has put trust into you.
Whether you’re a woman that’s been in a relationship for three months or for 30 years, take a step back and reflect. Although relationships can be a lot of work, it can be a beautiful and rewarding thing. The most important question you need to ask yourself is, are you truly happy in your relationship?