After seeing so many relationships fall apart in society, I asked myself: What does it take to develop a healthy relationship that lasts?
Healthy relationships require strong commitment and dedication. They require a generous dose of love, respect, trust, and communication. We can build strong and healthy relationships by implementing the good habits in this article.
In my 20-plus years being married to my wife, I have learned that developing a healthy relationship comes down to only a handful of skills and habits. These are simple things that when practiced regularly, help to build healthy and long-lasting relationships.
Maintaining a good relationship that can flourish into a lifetime spent with someone special requires care and attention. It isn’t something we can overlook or be slack with. Also, we must see our relationships as valuable. We protect the things that are valuable to us, right?
Related: What is the Meaning of Love
What are some things you are currently doing now that, if improved on, would improve the quality of your relationship?
I ask this because we often already know what we or our partner are doing that is destructive to the partnership. When we consistently do something undesirable around people, they tend to want to leave.
What comes to mind when you think about your own relationship habits?
Heavy alcohol usage was my destructive habit. It wasn’t just the alcohol or the bad attitude I developed when drinking that was damaging our relationship; it was the lack of concern and respect for my wife. I can assure anyone who wants to know: if you want to know how to destroy your relationship, treat your partner with neglect and disrespect.
Fortunately, our story turned to a better direction when I gave up drinking. With only a couple minor slip-ups, we have been steadily improving. The steps we have been working on to make our marriage better aren’t complicated; they simply take consistent effort.
On a serious note, if you are struggling in your relationship, take some time to check out this resource:7 Secrets to Fixing Your Marriage, with Mort Fertel. Mort has one of the highest success rates in helping couples to fix and restore their broken marriages.
In this article, I want to share some of the basic relationship-building habits we strive to engage in as often as possible. By doing these, I am confident you and your partner will bring your relationship to a new level.
10 simple ways to make your relationship healthy
Here, I have listed ten habits we can employ to create a better relationship. I wouldn’t say that these are ordered from greatest to least, or the like. Rather, these are just some of the things we try to be mindful of and engage in as often as possible.
By consciously working on any of these, a couple should be able to realize basic improvements in a very short time. As people, we only want a few things to be happy: love, friendship, low-stress and pressure, safety, and fun, to name a few.
My list includes these and is a great foundation on which anyone can base an amazing relationship on.
- Be courteous
- Be respectful
- Practice awareness
- Lose the pride
- Share the workload
- Be fun and humorous
- Engage in healthy activities together
- Have date nights
- Be spontaneous
1. A lack of common courtesy diminishes healthy relationships
I am amazed at the number of times that I am around couples and see a lack of courtesy in even the simplest of forms. I see the man proceed through a doorway, with his significant other a few steps behind, and he lets the door go for her to catch as she tries to keep up. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time that I saw a guy open a car door for his lady. How about you; have you seen a man and a woman walking, and she is the one carrying the bags from the grocery store while he is texting on his phone?
Now, I’m not trying to say that women are weak and feeble, but instead, what was once a respectful standard not so long ago seems to be disappearing. It is evident that some are treating their partner more like a sibling when it comes to courtesy, and yet we are stunned by the rate of divorce and break-ups.
I am a firm believer of the old-adage; “Happy wife, happy life.” I have many years of successful marriage that can back up this saying. I believe this includes doing what we can to make our spouse or partner’s life easier.
I also believe that this saying could, and should, be oriented towards the husband as well. Marriage is the unity of two people, and it takes both of those individuals to bring the marriage to a successful status. Opening and holding doors are just some basic courtesies that we should be doing for virtually all people; especially, our life-partner.
Can you think of any ways that you can practice courtesy with your partner tonight?
2. How to show respect in a relationship
Respect in relationships is taken for granted. We don’t spend a great deal of time finding ways to be more respectful. Instead, self-gratification seems to be the common theme for many.
Hey, I understand life should be enjoyable and finding ways that we can get the most benefit of our partner is perfectly fine. But we must be willing to give back too. Being respectful means being considerate of their needs and wants. Doing what they want to do even when we don’t feel like it.
Of course, respect is listening to them when they are speaking and considering what they are saying. They are our partner in the relationship; this means that they share just as much authority as we do. The man isn’t more important than the woman, or vice versa.
Respect in the relationship means seeing our partner worthy of our best manners; “Please and thank you” instead of “Get me this or that” without showing appreciation. This most basic form of respect shouldn’t be reserved only for strangers.
We can also be respectful by understanding that they have their own differences. They might believe different things than us, they might enjoy different things. Perhaps, they enjoy some quiet time alone for an hour in the evening to reflect on their life and to make changes. If we deprive them of this time, it prevents them from self-improvement, and encourages bitterness.
And, just to give one more example; we can show respect through encouragement. If we see that our partner is struggling with something, show them we care by standing beside them. Take their side and let them know that we are there for them, and that together, we can get through this.
3. How to be aware and understand you partner’s feelings
Do you ever notice that your partner seems more confrontational than normal? How about not as talkative, or lacking a sense of humor? It is necessary to consider that there might be a build up of pressure in their life and that it’s time to find solutions to help reduce the stress they are experiencing.
Often, we can associate their stress and pressure as an attack towards us. We must be careful to understand what the true underlying issue is.
If our partner comes home and is immediately confrontational and edgy, we must consider why?
For most, what is the common reaction? Defensiveness.
Instead, we should be investigative. If we notice that they are clearly upset about something, ask them what’s going on. If they say, “Nothing,” let them know we are available to talk about it and give them some time.
If we react and raise our voice, the situation will escalate. If we respect that they say, “Nothing’s wrong” and we leave it alone, this gives them a chance to calm down and open-up at their leisure. It is obvious that something is wrong. By telling them that we are available for a talk, we are showing that we do in fact care, and that we are there for them; not against them.
If we simply said, “Whatever!” and went back to watching TV or something, this would cause escalation as it would show that we don’t care about their issue.
We can create a safe place for our partner by being readily available for them and by not being judgmental of their situations or emotions.
In what ways do you practice awareness in your relationship? Can you sense when your partner is tired, sick, sad, overwhelmed, depressed, excited, happy, intimate?
What is your immediate response?
4. Importance of communication
In virtually every article I write about building relationships, I include communication. The reason is obvious; if we don’t talk to our partner, the relationship will stagnate and die.
There isn’t any science here. We must see our partner as our best friend. If everything else in our world fell apart, we should still count our blessings that we have each other. No matter how difficult external circumstances get for each other, both in the relationship should know that they can depend on the other.
If there is no open communication, how can our partner know what is going on? How can we know how their life is going? Also, how can we know if there is a breakdown of sort between us if we never talk?
Best friends talk. They prefer each other’s company over that of another. They feel completely safe with each other, and they are comfortable to confide in each other.
Is this something you do in your relationship right now?
If you answer no to this, then I ask, “How is your relationship doing?”
Look, communication doesn’t have to be exactly four hours of open dialogue after work every evening.
Instead, it is an enjoyable conversation at dinner; it is a walk in the evening talking about the dreams for our future; it’s about taking a few minutes to let our partner know that as much as we love picking up their underwear from the bathroom floor every morning, we’d prefer if they could share the chore.
Whatever it is, it is a chance to let them know how we feel; what we are happy with or not, what we are hopeful for, and what we need from them.
Is there anything you want to talk to your partner about?
5. The danger of pride in your relationship
In every relationship, there will be disagreements. Learning how to handle these disagreements is key to maintaining a healthy relationship. If we are defensive, prideful, and combative, we must expect that the disagreement will escalate to an ugly situation.
Instead, we must be willing to back down sometimes. As we have differences, there will be times when we come against each other. Depending on how strong our belief is of that which we are defending, the disagreement can grow into an all-out fight.
Have you heard of couples who got divorced because the other person didn’t top up the fuel tank in the car or when the person didn’t put their socks in the laundry hamper?
This sounds ridiculous, but there was clearly more to the situation then what we know. Is it possible that these small habits were the straws that broke the camels back? Is it possible that the accused reacted in an aggressive manner which turned a small situation into complete separation?
When we are confronted about our actions, we can get prideful and defensive in a hurry. I have learned that it is good to stand our ground when our facts are true, and we have a strong case. I have also learned that when we are just being prideful and don’t want our feelings hurt, that it is better to know when to give in and take our lashes.
By doing this, we can dissolve the disagreement and get on with a more enjoyable situation.
How do you handle the disagreements between you and your partner? Do you have to be right all the time? Are you known to be mature and give in when you are in the wrong? Is agreeing to return to the conversation later when emotions subside something that you practice?
6. How to share the mental load and be helpful
Being helpful in our relationship is an extension of being aware of our partner’s state. When we practice awareness, we become alert to their mental condition. If they are happy and relaxed and enjoying life, likely they can manage their tasks.
However, if they are over-worked, stressed, tired, frustrated, or even depressed, it would be good of us to step in and be helpful. Of course, we shouldn’t wait for them to get to this stage.
We can practice being helpful in a variety of ways: we can pitch in with cooking, chores, parenting, and driving. We can even do other things to help them reduce stress such as; give them massages, give them time for solitude, send them to the spa (if this is their thing and finances permit it), or offer to do something they want.
Some pressures in life can be small and insignificant to one person, but to the other, it’s too much.
Does one in the relationship do all the cooking and cleaning? Is it possible to offer to cook one night per week, perhaps on their busiest day, and take care of the dishes afterwards too? I’m telling you, this makes a huge difference.
Through communication and awareness, we can learn to identify signs of distress. Investigative skills are useful for noticing all these things. Of course, none of this will matter if we are only focused on ourselves all the time. We must put the other first as often as possible and try to maintain a position where we help them to enjoy the relationship fully and become their best.
In what ways can you practice being more helpful in your relationship? Is your partner struggling to manage the pressure in their professional life? Is there something you could do to give them a nice experience to offset the difficult?
7. Couples who laugh together, stay together
Life is serious and if we don’t take it seriously, we are reduced to living in undesirable circumstances and mediocrity. The same is true for our relationships. We must take them seriously. But we must also make them enjoyable.
We don’t need to be a complete “stiff” in life to be serious about our doings. Rather, we need to stay within the boundaries required to keep that situation healthy and moving in the right direction.
Can’t we do both?
Do you and your partner spend time joking around, being playful and having fun? Do you watch funny movies and videos together and get silly? Does age matter with this? We can’t seriously say, “We are too old to be silly!”
I’m telling you the truth; the relationship is meant to be a fulfilling experience. It is meant to be taken serious in the way of respect, loyalty, love, fidelity, safety, and structure. But it is also meant to fill the emotional needs we have, which includes having fun and making good memories.
The best way that a couple can have fun with each other is to fall in love with each other, again. Some might say, “Well, we are in love; we have been together for years now. Of course, we love each other.”
Right, but is this love alive and growing?
In many cases, relationships stagnate and fall apart over time. Why? Because a lack of attention, for one. Secondly, because stuff happens. We don’t let go and forgive and we build bitterness within.
I’m not saying that we are all bitter or not in love, but if we want to re-ignite the spark, fall deeper in love, and have fun, we must forgive and move on. We must not focus on the past mistakes of our partner.
8. Engage in healthy activities together
Should couples exercise together? I can’t answer that for everyone. But getting exercise is a very wide field. It doesn’t only mean going to the gym. It can include activities such as; hiking and nature walking, kayaking, running, sports, stretching exercises, biking, and skiing.
Why might a couple prefer not to exercise together? Because they might be on different levels and being able to exercise to their peak level might be hindered by the other who isn’t at that level. Exercise is a personal thing. We burn fat by getting into a certain “zone” and if we are paired up with someone who prevents us from achieving that zone, we are left frustrated.
For this reason, I agree that physical exercise might be better as a solo activity. However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t also engage in physical activities with our partner. In fact, I believe that a couple who lives an active life together is more relaxed, and lives to a higher quality.
For the active couple, they can engage in events together and build a tighter bond. They can travel to various events and become friends with other active couples.
In addition to these, longer life together is a plus for the couple who is happy, healthy, and active.
What do you and your partner do to be active together? Can you think of a way that you two can improve your time together through an active lifestyle? Do you feel like you would need to give up too much to engage in an active lifestyle or simply don’t have time?
9. Why couples should have date nights
Date nights aren’t just a preliminary activity we do to get acquainted when we first meet; this should be an ongoing activity and fun way to build the relationship. We do this not just as a form of entertainment, but also, it gives us a chance to fall deeper in love with each other.
The more enjoyable activities we can engage in together results in more ways that we can associate pleasure with our partner. When we have a big list of reasons our partner is fun to be around, our desire to be around them grows.
What is different about date nights while dating versus date nights when in a long-term relationship? Not much. The idea is the same. Sure, we know our partner’s bio, but there are more things we can talk about.
Remember back to a time when you were dating; what was it like? What did you talk about? It would be similar now. The conversation would be pleasant. It would be dreamy, even if not realistic. This is the point of fun.
We don’t want to go on a date and discuss the family budget and focus on debt. That is a recipe for disaster. Instead, we would talk about the best of the best in our lives, or at least, our relationship goals for the future.
We would try and find fun things for couples to do in the community and try new things; even if it is something silly.
Try going on a date with your partner. Agree to put any past-issues behind, and only focus on fun activities and conversations. The idea for the date night is to unwind and grow a tighter bond. Keep these engagements positive and pleasant as life already has too much pressure and seriousness.
10. Be spontaneous: Mix up your routine
Another habit that is important in building a healthy relationship is spontaneity. It helps to keep things fun and interesting and to do what we can to reduce stress.
Sometimes, we get too focused on our routine and we get tunnel-vision. We get to a point where we wake up only to eat, work, eat, engage in social media, sleep, and repeat. Notice how I forgot to mention spend quality time with our partner building up the relationship?
There are many ways we can do things that are out of the norm. Practically anything different is good. But it needs to be fun. It needs to add to the quality of living and be something that enhances the relationship.
As not all habits are good, we must be careful to not pick up a poor habit in attempt to be spontaneous. For example, becoming more social and drinking more can detract from the relationship. It might be different from the usual, but it can also create damaging and compromising situations.
We want to add spontaneity to reduce the boredom. What are some things that you think you and your partner could do that might add value to your relationship?
I sometimes will bring my wife a tea at work or will pick her up and do lunch somewhere. We might wake up one morning and decide to go on a road trip, and by afternoon, be on our way to a different province (We’re Canadians, eh!).
Some people call us crazy, but we have good memories because of this. It is necessary to do something out of the ordinary sometimes; even if it is bordering on crazy. It’s called “Living!”
The 9 to 5 grind might be necessary, but it shouldn’t be the highlight of you and your partner’s day.
I can assure you that we haven’t had the perfect marriage. But we are always seeking ways to improve our relationship. And, you can too!
Don’t settle for mediocre; try to do what you can to repair a relationship before giving up on it. This article offers 10 habits that any couple can adopt which will result in massive gains together.
So, I ask again: How is your relationship today? Is there something you could do to improve on it? Is there something you and your partner have been doing to improve your relationship that isn’t on my list? Feel free to leave a comment and share with other couples who could use a pick-me-up in their relationship.
How to get your spouse to hear you, by Mort Fertel.