Advice for Building Healthy and Exciting Love Relationships
A strong, healthy relationship can be one of the best supports in your life. Good relationships improve your life in all aspects, strengthening your health, your mind and your connections with others as well. However, it can also be one of the greatest drains if the relationship is not working. Relationships are an investment. The more you put in, the more you get back. Love and relationships take work, commitment, and a willingness to adapt and change through life as a team. Learn about ways to keep a healthy relationship strong, or work on repairing trust and love for a relationship on the rocks.
How to strengthen your relationship and make love last
Everyone’s relationship is unique, and people come together for many different reasons. But there are some things that good relationships have in common. Knowing the basic principles of healthy relationships helps keep them meaningful, fulfilling and exciting in both happy times and sad:
What makes a healthy love relationship?
- Staying involved with each other. Some relationships get stuck in peaceful coexistence, but without truly relating to each other and working together. While it may seem stable on the surface, lack of involvement and communication increases distance. When you need to talk about something important, the connection and understanding may no longer be there.
- Getting through conflict. Some couples talk things out quietly, while others may raise their voices and passionately disagree. The key in a strong relationship, through, is not to be fearful of conflict. You need to be safe to express things that bother you without fear of retaliation, and be able to resolve conflict without humiliation, degradation or insisting on being right.
- Keeping outside relationships and interests alive. No one person can meet all of our needs, and expecting too much from someone can put a lot of unhealthy pressure on a relationship. Having friends and outside interests not only strengthens your social network, but brings new insights and stimulation to the relationship, too.
- Communicating. Honest, direct communication is a key part of any relationship. When both people feel comfortable expressing their needs, fears and desires, trust and bonds are strengthened. Critical to communication are nonverbal cues—body language like eye contact, leaning forward or away, or touching someone’s arm.
Touch is a fundamental part of human existence. Studies on infants have shown the importance of regular, loving touch and holding on brain development. These benefits do not end in childhood. Life without physical contact with others is a lonely life indeed.
Studies have shown that affectionate touch actually boosts the body’s levels of oxytocin, a hormone that influences bonding and attachment. In a committed relationship between two adult partners, physical intercourse is often a cornerstone of the relationship. However, intercourse should not be the only method of physical intimacy in a relationship. Regular, affectionate touch—holding hands, hugging, or kissing—is equally important.
Be sensitive to what your partner likes. While touch is a key part of a healthy relationship, it’s important to take some time to find out what your partner really likes. Unwanted touching or inappropriate overtures can make the other person tense up and retreat—exactly what you don’t want.
You probably have fond memories of when you were first dating your loved one. Everything may have seemed new and exciting, and you may have spent hours just chatting together or coming up with a new, exciting thing to try. However, as time goes by, children, demanding jobs, long commutes, different hobbies and other obligations can make it hard to find time together. It’s critical for your relationship, though, to make time for yourselves. If you don’t have quality time, communication and understanding start to erode.
Simple ways to connect as a couple and rekindle love
- Commit to spending quality time together on a regular basis. Even during very busy and stressful times, a few minutes of really sharing and connecting can help keep bonds strong.
- Find something that you enjoy doing together, whether it is a shared hobby, dance class, daily walk, or sitting over a cup of coffee in the morning.
- Try something new together. Doing new things together can be a fun way to connect and keep things interesting. It can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or going on a day trip to a place you’ve never been before.
Couples are often more fun and playful in the early stages of a relationship. However, this playful attitude can sometimes be forgotten as life challenges or old resentments start getting in the way. Keeping a sense of humor can actually help you get through tough times, reduce stress and work through issues more easily.
Focus on having fun together
- Think about playful ways to surprise your partner, like bringing flowers or a favorite movie home unexpectedly.
- Learn from the “play experts” together. Playing with a pet or small children can really help you reconnect with your playful side. If it’s something you do together, you also learn more about your partner and how he or she likes to have fun.
- Make a habit of laughing together whenever you can. Most situations are not as bleak as they appear to be when you approach them with humor.
Learning how to play again
A little humor and playful interaction can go a long way in diffusing tense situations and helping you see the brighter side. If you’re feeling a little rusty, learn more about how playful communication can improve your relationship, and fun ways to practice this skill.
Good communication is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship. When people stop communicating well, they stop relating well, and times of change or stress can really bring out disconnect. As long as you are communicating, you can work through whatever problem you’re facing.
Learn your partner’s emotional cues
Each of us is a little different in how we best receive information. Some people might respond better to sight, sound or touch. Your partner’s responses may be different from yours. Take some time to learn your partner’s cues, and be sure to communicate your own as well. For example, one person might find a brief massage after a stressful day a loving mode of communication—while another might just want to talk over a hot cup of tea.
So much of our communication is transmitted by what we don’t say. Nonverbal cues such as eye contact, leaning forward or away, or touching someone’s arm communicate much more than words. For a relationship to work well, each person has to be receptive to sending and receiving nonverbal cues. Learning to understand this “body language” can help you understand better what your partner is trying to say. Think about what you are transmitting as well, and if what you say matches what you feel. If you insist “I’m fine”, while clenching your teeth and looking away, your body is clearly signaling you are not.
Question your assumptions
If you’ve known each other for a while, you may assume that your partner has a pretty good idea of what you are thinking and what you need. However, your partner is not a mind-reader. While your partner may have some idea, it is much healthier to express your needs directly to avoid any confusion. Your partner may sense something, but it might not be what you need. What’s more, people change, and what you needed and wanted five years ago, for example, may be very different now. Getting in the habit of expressing your needs helps you weather difficult times, which otherwise may lead to increasing resentment, misunderstanding and anger.