Let me start off by saying that I am not an expert. I do not have a certification in relationships or marriage counseling or social work or even psychology (though I did minor in it). And I also have to admit to you that the title of this post changed at least five times… I hope that these are helpful tips that maybe you already knew and overlooked once or twice or maybe they are ones you overlooked altogether…
I have been married for almost 2.5 years (and counting) to a wonderful and patient man, though we have been together since 2007 (whoa). I have been in relationships in the past – some great, some toxic, some long and some short. But from all of them, including my marriage, I have learned a lot of lessons about myself and about what I want from a relationship. I have learned what promotes a healthy relationship and what are indicators of one on a downward slope. So I want to share my two cents, if you will, on the top five things that have helped me maintain a healthy relationship with my husband and continue to grow in love.
- COMMUNICATION – It might go without saying but having an open line of communication is fundamental in a relationship -regardless of if the relationship is romantic or platonic. And communication goes two ways. One of the things that my husband and I do every…single…day is we dedicate 10-15 minutes to talk -uninterrupted and without technology. Typically we do this when having dinner but other times it is on our way in the door, or when we are cooking, or getting ready to head to the gym… We always ask about the other person’s day and not just listen, but hear. And if something is really bothering me, I let him know right off the bat and he respects my decision to not talk about it outright and we move on. We also are not afraid to say “I love you” too often. It may sound morbid but you never know when that may be a last time so reminding that person that you love them, even if you said it 20 times before, never gets old. But if you don’t communicate and carry a grudge, silence will speak for you and it is never your ally.
- SAY “PLEASE” or “THANK YOU” – These may seem foolish but you were taught to say your “P’s” and “Q’s” for a reason. Think about that time that you held the door open for someone behind you and they just waltzed in without acknowledging you. How did that make you feel? Now if you’re from NJ like I am, you almost most definitely said something but that’s besides the point…So the same goes for your significant other. If she did the dishes and normally hates it, or he sets the coffee, or they heated up dinner, or he did the laundry -saying “thank you” may not seem like much but you are acknowledging that person and their actions.
- JUST BECAUSE – This topic can be all encompassing really but don’t wait for a specific day or time or event to do something for your significant other. Sometimes getting a card to say “I love you” just because or giving them a peck on the cheek or holding their hand or coming home with their favorite dessert or going out to eat… All of those random moments add up and show them that you don’t need a holiday or important date to celebrate your love for them.
- THE LITTLE THINGS – Coupled with number 3 most often, doing those little things can surmount a grand gesture any day. For example, my husband usually packs our lunches and every so often I get a little surprise note from him -sometimes inspirational and sometimes silly but he still makes it a point to just do a little something (little does he know that I have a stack of all of them saved because sometimes you just have one of those days and need a little extra love). Or how about taking the dogs out and letting them get 10 extra minutes of sleep. Or how about playing their favorite song. Or texting them at 1:24pm because you missed them and wanted to say hello. Or getting them a little trinket that you saw and made you think of them… Those little things are nuggets that we carry around with us and remind us how much we are loved.
- RESPECT & EQUALITY – I grouped these two items together because you cannot simply have one without the other. You are with that person for a reason and if you cannot fully respect them and treat them as an equal, then turbulence is just ahead. Take my relationship as an example – my husband is well educated in technology and psychology while I like to think I have a strong foundation in science and literature but just because we are not both equal in the same realms, doesn’t mean we are not equal overall. I respect my husband on his opinions and his beliefs while he respects mine. He acknowledges my side of the situation, even when he disagrees. We also acknowledge our weaknesses and help each other whenever we can. Our goal is to lift each other up, not to stand on top alone.
There are so many other tips for a health relationship and this is just the beginning of this series! Though this post is mostly about a romantic relationship, most of these can be used interchangeably with friends, colleagues, and family. A random text or a phone call can go a long way. A simple gesture can bring someone back from the edge.
Inquiring minds want to know… what recommendations do you have for a healthy relationship? What have you done to foster a health relationship, even if it wasn’t a romantic one??