- 13 Tips To Make A Good Relationship Great
- 1. Do the things you did the first year you were dating.
- 2. Ask for what you want.
- 3. Become an expert on your partner.
- 4. Ask questions beyond just «How was your day?»
- 5. Create a weekly ritual to check in with each other.
- 7. Get creative about the time you spend together.
- 9. Take a (mental) vacation, every day.
- 10. Take «fight breaks» when you need them.
- 11. When in conflict, dig deep to unearth your true feelings.
- 12. Seek to understand, not agree.
- 13. Make your apology count.
- 10 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Relationship Right Now
- 1. Ask your partner something new
- 2. Designate a monthly date night
- 3. Say “thank you”
- 4. Schedule a check-in
- 5. Remember the small things
- 6. Let go of the past
- 7. Show your affection
- 8. Learn your partner’s boundaries
- 9. Laugh together
- 10. Make time to focus on yourself
- 23 Little Ways To Improve Your Relationship, According To Experts
- Use «I» Phrases
- Pay Attention To Small Moments
- Ask Questions Instead Of Assuming
- Call Time Outs
- Communicate Throughout The Day
- Share When You're Feeling Down
- Schedule Sex
- Schedule Regular Date Nights
- Do Something Scary
- Be Present, Physically
- Check In Regularly
- Maintain Shared Interests
- Figure Out Your «Love Language»
- Take Turns
- Take A Daily Walk
- Create Routines
- Compliment Each Other
- Be Thoughtful
- Honor Alone Time
- Ask How You Can Help
- Unplug Together
- Apologize Quickly
- Remind Yourself How You Feel
13 Tips To Make A Good Relationship Great
We all want to have healthy relationships, but most of us were never really taught about what that actually means. As a therapist with over a decade of experience working with couples, here are my top tips for how to have a good, healthy relationship. The key is being communicative and proactive.
1. Do the things you did the first year you were dating.
As the months and years roll on, we tend to slink into our proverbial sweatpants and get lazy in our relationship. We lose our patience, gentleness, thoughtfulness, understanding, and the general effort we once made toward our mate. Think back to the first year of your relationship and write down all the things you used to do for your partner. Now start doing them again.
2. Ask for what you want.
Over time, we assume that our partner knows us so well that we don't need to ask for what we want.
What happens when we make this assumption? Expectations are set, and just as quickly, they get deflated. Those unmet expectations can leave us questioning the viability of our partnership and connection.
Keep in mind that «asking for what you want» extends to everything from emotional to sexual wants.
3. Become an expert on your partner.
Think about who your mate really is and what excites them, both physically and emotionally. We can become consumed by what we think they want, as opposed to tuning in to what truly resonates with them. Remember that if it's important to your partner, it doesn't have to make sense to you. You just have to do it.
4. Ask questions beyond just «How was your day?»
At the end of a long day, we tend to mentally check our lives and, consequently, our relationship.
We rely on the standard question, «How was your day?» But because we hear that question so often, many of us will reflexively just respond with the bare minimum: «Fine.
How was yours?» This does nothing to improve your connection and can actually damage it because you're losing the opportunity to regularly connect in a small way.
If your initial «How was your day?» doesn't spark much conversation, try asking more creative follow-up questions: «What made you smile today?» or «What was the most challenging part of your day?» You'll be amazed at the answers you'll get, with the added benefit of gaining greater insight into your significant other.
5. Create a weekly ritual to check in with each other.
It can be short or long, but it begins with asking each other what worked and didn't work about the previous week and what can be done to improve things this coming week.
Additionally, use this opportunity to get on the same page with your schedules, plan a date night, and talk about what you would to see happen in the coming days, weeks, and months in your relationship.
Without an intentional appointment to do a temperature check, unmet needs and resentments can build.
What might change in your relationship if both you and your partner committed to increasing the behaviors you each find sexy and limiting those that aren't? Think about this in the broadest form.
«Sexy» can certainly refer to bedroom preferences, but it also represents what excites us about our mate in our day-to-day lives.
Do you find it sexy if they help with the housework? Do you find it «unsexy» when they use the restroom with the door wide-open? Talk about what it specifically means to «keep it sexy» in your relationship. Be amazed, be humored, and be inspired.
7. Get creative about the time you spend together.
Break the «dinner and a movie» routine, and watch how a little novelty can truly rejuvenate your relationship.
On a budget and can't go big? Jump on the internet to look for «cheap date ideas» and be blown away at the plethora of options. Can't afford a sitter? Try swapping babysitting time with friends that have kids.
It's free, and they will ly be thrilled to take your kids because they will get to take advantage when they drop their kids at your place.
Unless you have committed to an asexual partnership, sex and touch (kissing, holding hands, cuddling, etc.) are vital components of a romantic relationship.
How much sex a couple has is, of course, up to the particular pair of individuals, so it's imperative that you discuss your ideas about it in order to manage any desire discrepancy.
Rare are the moments when both partners are «in the mood» at the exact same second, but in general, most people tend to «get there» after the first few minutes even if they weren't initially in the mood.
9. Take a (mental) vacation, every day.
Life and work distractions can become paramount in our minds, and that leaves little time or energy for our partner. Practice the art of «Wearing the Relationship Hat.
» This means that, barring any emergencies or deadlines, we are fully present when we're with our mate.
We truly hear what they are saying (instead of pretending to listen), we leave our distractions behind, and we don't pick them up again until the sun comes up and we walk out the door.
10. Take «fight breaks» when you need them.
When conflicts inevitably come up, remember to approach them thoughtfully and with a lot of kindness toward your partner and yourself.
If you see the stress beginning to escalate during a conversation about a conflict, one or both of you can call a break so that cooler heads can prevail.
The crux of this tool lies in the fact that you must pick a specific time to revisit the conversation (i.e., 10 minutes from now, 2 p.m. on Tuesday, etc.) so that closure can be achieved.
11. When in conflict, dig deep to unearth your true feelings.
In most disagreements, we communicate from the «top layer,» which is the obvious emotions such as anger, annoyance, and the .
Leading from this place can create confusion and defensiveness, and it can ultimately distract from the real issue.
Start communicating from the «bottom layer,» which are the feelings that are really driving your reactions, such as disappointment, rejection, loneliness, or disrespect.
This type of expression creates an instant sense of empathy because it requires honesty and vulnerability to share from this space. Tension will dissipate, and from here, solutions can spring. Just be sure to use kind, nonreactive phrasing when expressing these bottom layer feelings, such as «I felt hurt by…» as a replacement for «You're such a jerk,» etc.
12. Seek to understand, not agree.
Easy in concept, difficult in application. Conversations quickly turn to arguments when we're invested in hearing our partner admit that we were right or when we are intent on changing their opinion.
Choose to approach a conversation as an opportunity to understand your significant other's perspective as opposed to waiting for them to concede.
From this perspective, we have an interesting dialogue and prevent a blowout or lingering frustration.
13. Make your apology count.
It's well understood that apologizing is a good thing, but it only makes a real impact when you mean it. Saying things «I'm sorry you feel that way,» «I'm sorry you see it that way,» or «I'm sorry if I upset you» are a waste of time and breath. Even if you don't agree that your action was wrong, you will never successfully argue a feeling.
Accept that your partner feels hurt. From this place, a real apology can have a significant impact. When you love your partner and hurt them (intentionally or not), you can always legitimately apologize for the pain you caused, regardless of your perspective on what you did or didn't do.
You are now officially armed with the comprehensive guide for how to have a healthy relationship.
10 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Relationship Right Now
Whether you’ve been dating your partner for a few months or have been married for five years, healthy relationships are built from commitment, mutual respect, and effort.
While you probably felt an immediate and effortless spark when you first met, it takes work to maintain that spark as your relationship develops (but don’t worry, it will be the most fun and rewarding work you’ll ever do).
While every relationship is different, you can always work to improve your bond, friendship, and intimacy. Try these 10 things to improve your relationship RN.
1. Ask your partner something new
Communication is arguably the #1 determining factor of success for every relationship. It’s nice to ask how your partner’s day went, but it can feel routine when you ask the same thing every day or don’t branch out into new topics of conversation.
Enhance your relationship and communication by putting in the extra effort to question your significant other on something more specific.
By asking new questions ( “How did you feel about that?” or “What do you prefer doing at work instead?”), you’ll avoid going through the motions, listen more intently to each other, and have more meaningful discussions.
2. Designate a monthly date night
Between both of your busy schedules and nonstop responsibilities, the most foolproof way to guarantee that you’ll make time for each other is to set a night every month dedicated to strengthening your connection and reigniting that spark. Whether you’re looking to spice up your relationship or want to do something together that doesn’t include Netflix, schedule a date—it’s one night the month, but the connection that comes from it will have long-term effects.
3. Say “thank you”
Especially in relationships that have gone on for years and fall into routines, we can get so comfortable that we expect our partner to meet all of our needs, whether it’s how they treat us or the daily chores they do.
Saying a simple “thank you” for cleaning the dishes after dinner or giving you a compliment enforces their good behavior and makes them feel appreciated as well as helps you remember why you love them.
It’s also important to express appreciation and gratitude for them being in your life and how much they mean to you, not just what they do for you.
4. Schedule a check-in
Scheduling might not seem very sexy and spontaneous, but making sure you’re regularly checking in with each other will keep your relationship strong.
It can be easy to let annoyance after annoyance build up until it gets to a full-blown fight, so checking in means fewer fights, more communication, and better connection. After all, a relationship is just two people trying to get their needs met.
Use a check-in to discuss any recent triggers, problems, and even all the good things (which deserve recognition too!). Try monthly, weekly, or even daily ( at the end of the day), and put it on your calendars so you don’t forget or skip.
5. Remember the small things
Another way to add meaning to your conversation is to truly listen to what your significant other is saying, and then bring up those little things again in the future.
For example, if your partner mentions a new pair of shoes that they want, take note of it to gift it to them for their birthday coming up, or if your significant other says they want to try a restaurant you haven’t been to, suggest it for your next date night or surprise them with takeout.
The fact that you pay attention to and remember even the minor details that your partner says will show how much you listen and care and make your partner feel loved. Overall, it’s the little things that mean the most.
6. Let go of the past
As a culprit for many potential arguments and the underlying issue for future ones, what happens in the past doesn’t always stay there. But it’s difficult to move forward in a relationship when you’re still thinking about past fights, problems, or issues that you’ve already resolved.
If you find yourself continuing to dwell on the past, it might be a sign to take a step back and consider why.
Are you naturally less forgiving or is what happened something you can’t seem to forgive? By focusing on the reason for this recurring feeling, you’ll find more clarity within yourself and about what you want from the relationship with your partner.
7. Show your affection
From grabbing your partner’s hand at a restaurant to going to bed together at the end of the night, you know how you feel about your partner, but they should be able to feel it as well. Physical touch goes a long way in keeping romance and connection alive in long-term relationships.
Try to avoid physical touch routines, meaning the only physical touch in your daily life is a kiss goodbye or a hug hello (though these are also important gestures). In addition to your hellos and goodbyes, hug them unexpectedly, hold their hand in the car or while watching TV, or even just pat them on the arm to feel close.
Physical closeness can translate to emotional closeness.
8. Learn your partner’s boundaries
Does your partner wish to be left alone when they’re upset? Do they mind that you want to text all day long, or do they prefer you call them when you’re apart at night? Is there a certain way they prefer to argue or certain topics they’re not comfortable discussing with you yet? These questions are simple, but the answers to them will help you understand your partner’s boundaries (and stop you from crossing them). Overall, your partner’s needs are most ly different from yours, and knowing their boundaries is the best way to respect them. Have conversations to explain your boundaries to each other, but also pay attention and ask questions to understand them better.
9. Laugh together
Relationships are just friendships with exclusivity; while loving each other is crucial, liking each other is important too.
While the life-partner stuff ( dividing chores) or the romantic stuff ( holding hands) might be top priorities to improve your relationship, remember that the friendship stuff is just as important.
Laugh together at least once every day, whether it’s sharing a funny story that happened to you at the grocery store, bringing up an inside joke, or watching the show that makes you both LOL. Laughing not only bonds us but also helps us remember that the point of being in a relationship is to enjoy the person we love.
10. Make time to focus on yourself
How we feel about ourselves is how we’ll act in a relationship. For example, if you lack confidence in yourself, you’ll look for assurance in your relationship, or if you don’t to be alone with yourself, you’ll need to be around your significant other 24/7.
To prevent any toxic behaviors, it’s essential to have a strong sense of self: invest in a new hobby, make plans with some friends, and take steps in discovering who you are as a person.
By falling in love with yourself, you’ll naturally be your own best version for the person who is falling in love with you.
(when you've been stuck together for months)
23 Little Ways To Improve Your Relationship, According To Experts
No matter how strong your connection is as a couple, maintaining that spark is crucial. Without ongoing effort, you and your partner might eventually find yourselves stuck in a loop of recurring problems, or living in a boring routine that winds up driving you apart. But all of that can be prevented if you look for little ways to improve your relationship, every day.
«A healthy relationship is one based in trust and security, [which is why] small gestures are a great way to keep these two things strong,» Dr. Kristie Overstreet, a relationship expert and certified sex therapist, tells Bustle. Un grand, sweeping gestures that happen once a year, frequent, small moments of love show that you're always prioritizing each other.
It's often in the seemingly insignificant moments that you feel closest. «For example, during the workday, checking in with your partner, sending them an emoji, or taking a few minutes to chat,» Overstreet says.
Continuously making an effort also means you get to create the type of relationship you want, Jeni Woodfin, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. They offer the chance to be intentional every day, instead of letting your relationship happen to you, over time.
If you want to stay happy and connected, remember it's the little shifts — the small moments — that make the biggest difference. Here are 23 ways to make your relationship stronger, according to experts.
Use «I» Phrases
If you and your partner tend to spiral into toxicity during arguments, experts says you may want to stop using «you» phrases — such as, «you did this» or «you made me feel» — and start using «I» phrases.
«Leading with the word 'you' nearly instantly creates a defensive posture in your partner, who then goes into a strategy to defend themselves the minute you stop talking,» Deborah E. Dyer, PhD, a psychologist, tells Bustle. But this simple switch can make all the difference.
«By owning your own thoughts and feelings about the situation,» Dyer says, «you immediately reduce the defensiveness in your partner because they aren't feeling blamed or criticized.» And from there, you can have more productive conversations.
Pay Attention To Small Moments
It's easy to overlook little things, saying good morning to each other, or hugging before going to bed. But Woodfin says these are some of the most important parts of the day.
By savoring these moments, you'll both feel more «seen» and appreciated, which is a vital part of staying connected long-term.
Ask Questions Instead Of Assuming
No matter how well you think you know your partner, it's dangerous to make assumptions about what they're thinking, especially during tough moments.
«Mind reading usually leads to misunderstandings and hurt feelings,» Sameera Sullivan, a psychologist and founder of Lasting Connections, tells Bustle.
So the next time you aren't sure what they want or need, ask for clarification.
Call Time Outs
If you find yourselves in the middle of a heated debate, and your tempers are flaring, don't be afraid to call a time-out before things go downhill.
To do so, simply «state the importance of the conversation and the desire to come together again,» Woodfin says. Something , «I want to keep talking about this, but I'm getting too upset to think. I'm going to take a break for an hour, but let's meet back after that to continue talking.»
That way your partner knows they'll have another chance to be heard, but only after you've both given yourselves a chance to cool off.
Communicate Throughout The Day
Whether it's sending a quick text, or calling to say hey, communicating on a regular basis is key. «When you take intentional moments throughout your day to communicate, this is an effective way to show your partner that you are thinking of them,» Beverley Andre, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.
Share When You're Feeling Down
Whenever you're feeling vulnerable or upset, make an effort to open up and touch base with your partner, instead of holding it all in.
“Real intimacy comes from letting your guard down and allowing your partner to witness you in a less than stellar light,» Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes, a licensed psychologist, tells Bustle.
Basically, you can take moments of struggle or doubt, and turn them into a bonding experience.
It might sound strange, but ensuring you schedule time for sex — especially if you both tend o be too tired at the end of the week — might be the ticket to feeling closer as a couple.
As Woodfin says, «With scheduling sex, you don't have to show up ready to go, but rather show up with an openness and willingness to try. It's very similar to that feeling before you go to the gym — you may not want to go beforehand, but as soon as you finish your workout you feel great, energized, proud. This is the same thing with sex.»
Schedule Regular Date Nights
Similarly, scheduling regular date nights is essential, Michelle Gallant, a relationship and dating coach, tells Bustle, if you want to maintain a strong, close connection.
It's easy to get swept up with work and other obligations, but if you let the fun stuff slide — going to the movies, meeting up for dinner, etc. — she says your relationship will start to crumble.
Do Something Scary
Maybe it's hiking in the woods. Or performing at an open mic night. Or facing a fear of heights and riding a rollercoaster for the first time. Whatever it is, tackle something that scares you — together.
«We learn the most about a person when they are placed in stressful situations; that’s when someone’s true colors show,» Tiffany Toombs, a relationship expert and director at Blue Lotus Mind, tells Bustle.
Plus, scary moments offer a chance to practice problem-solving, Toombs says, which will help you feel closer as a couple.
Be Present, Physically
If you feel you've gotten complacent, make more of an effort to be physical with your partner.
«Make eye contact, [or] touch your partner’s arm or leg to let them know you’re 'with' them,» Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, a couples therapist, tells Bustle.
You could also sit closer on the couch while watching TV, or offer a hug. These are all easy ways boost intimacy in your relationship.
Check In Regularly
Choose a time to have check-ins as a couple, whether it's daily, weekly, or monthly, and use this time to discuss the state of your relationship, Kate Ecke, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle.
During the check in, you might chat about problems, triggers, or good things that have happened recently, that you'd both to see more of in the future.
Maintain Shared Interests
«In the beginning of relationships, we sometimes find it almost impossible to stay away from each other,» Jennifer Weaver-Breitenbecher MA, CAGS, LMHC, a psychotherapist, tells Bustle. As time goes on, it's natural to drift apart, but you can stop that process in its tracks by purposefully doing more things together.
«Find shared interests, even if you’re into different things,» Weaver-Breitenbecher says. «Or find something new, something you’re both willing to try.»
Figure Out Your «Love Language»
Take a quiz online to figure out your love languages, so you can better cater to each other's needs.
«For example, if your love language is quality time, discuss what that means for your partner specifically,» Tyra Berger, MSMFT, LCPC, a licensed clinical professional counselor, tells Bustle. What can they do — have meaningful conversations? hang out with you more often? — to help you feel loved.
Then, figure out what they need, and do it often. «Practicing each other's love language will [you] stay connected and in tune with each other,» Berger says.
If you want your relationship to feel equal, there's a really simple trick you can use.
«Take turns,» Dr. Erika Martinez, a licensed psychologist, tells Bustle. «Whether it's planning date night, cooking, cleaning, or doing laundry, taking turns divides the responsibility, creates more equality in the relationship, and helps keep these tasks from feeling a burden, which also fends off feelings of resentment down the line.»
Take A Daily Walk
Whether you go for a walk in the morning, on your lunch breaks, or after dinner, fitting 15 minutes of outdoor time into your day can do wonders for your relationship.
During your walk, «talk about what's working well in your relationship, what's not working, and what you'd to change,» Martinez says. Or simply hold hands and chat mindlessly about the TV shows you're loving right now.
It's little rituals these that keep couples close.
Little rituals have a way of improving relationships, Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, a relationship therapist, tells Bustle, so look for little ways you can add them into your lives.
Even it's just ordering pizza every Friday, or making popcorn while you're watching a movie, «rituals these are are bonding, even if you don’t realize it,» Hartstein says.
Compliment Each Other
It's so easy to fall into the habit of nit-picking in a relationship, but if you want to stay together happily, you'll want to focus on the positives instead, Weaver-Breitenbecher says.
This can be done by keeping an eye out for good things, and then offering sincere compliments, pointing out how much you enjoyed a dinner your partner made.
Encourage each other to notice the good things and to say them out loud, more often.
If you're looking for a simple but meaningful ways to show your love, try surprising your partner with little gifts or tokens of affection, a hand-written note tucked into their coat pocket, Joshua Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. He says these are «tangible gestures of love» and they go a long way in helping you stay connected.
Honor Alone Time
Not all relationship-building activities require you to spend time together. In fact, «a sign of a healthy relationship is when both parties have individual interests,» Andre says. So go ahead and encourage each other to spend time alone, whenever necessary. You'll both come back to the relationship feeling renewed.
Ask How You Can Help
If you're getting the sense that your partner is overwhelmed, ask how you can help, Overstreet says. «This simple question can improve your connection because it shows how much you are there for them,» she says. «It shows you support them as well as a willingness to step in to help with whatever they need.»
Another way to keep your relationship strong? Unplugging on a regular basis, so you can look at each other instead of your phones, Susan Trombetti, a matchmaker, tells Bustle.
Use the time away from social media, texts, the news, etc., to catch each other up on daily goings on, to talk about mundane things, or to simply enjoy distraction-free time together.
It's also good to occasionally show you're more invested in each other, than whatever's happening on social media.
If you say or do something hurtful, talk about it ASAP — and don't hesitate to apologize.
«Of course, you need to be authentic with the apology but it shows that you are willing to own your mistake,» Overstreet says. «Then ask for a 'do-over' of what you should have said or did instead. Don't let hours or days pass — apologize quickly, own up to what you did, and then move forward.»
Remind Yourself How You Feel
Remind yourself of all the reasons why you're grateful for your partner, especially if you're starting to take each other for granted.
This is after all, «probably the single reason that most relationships fall apart,» Klapow says.
But if you both make a point of reminding yourselves why you fell in love, and all the good things you share as a couple, that's far less ly to happen.
Even if you've been together for a long time, there are always new ways to make your relationship stronger and bring you closer together — so you can both feel happy, supported, and ready for the future.
Dr. Kristie Overstreet, relationship expert and certified sex therapist
Jeni Woodfin, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist
Deborah E. Dyer, PhD, psychologist
Sameera Sullivan, psychologist
Beverley Andre, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist
Michelle Gallant, relationship and dating coach
Susan Trombetti, matchmaker
Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes, licensed psychologist
Tiffany Toombs, relationship expert
Kate Ecke, LCSW, licensed clinical social worker
Jennifer Weaver-Breitenbecher MA, CAGS, LMHC, psychotherapist
Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, couples therapist
Tyra Berger, MSMFT, LCPC, licensed clinical professional counselor
Dr. Erika Martinez, licensed psychologist
Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, relationship therapist
Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist
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