When you’re married, dating, or in a long-term partnership with someone, it’s always a good idea to consider how you might make your relationship stronger. Like anything worth having, relationships need care and maintenance. When we take those closest to us for granted it can damage the relationship we care about most.
In order to build lasting love and commitment, you need to have the desire to grow and main that love. Here are 15 things you can do to intentionally create a stronger relationship.
1. Work on the stuff in you that will make you a better person.
One of the best ways to make your relationship stronger is to make yourself stronger. When you deal with the past issues and hurt in your life, you will be more emotionally available for a relationship with your partner.
How do you actually do this work? You can practice meditation and mindfully explore pain points and choose to release them or you can find a professional therapist or counselor to work with you. Both can have incredible results!
2. Find a way to ride out the low times together.
There will be ups and downs – every relationship has them. Find a way to focus on being a team through the tough times. Often, couples have stress points (money, raising children, dealing with tough family members) and it’s important to view those things as you vs. the issue and not you vs. your partner.
Discuss what the tough things are and make a plan to work through them together as a team.
3. Find ways to be playful.
Life can be stressful and our relationships can become transactional place (who is in charge of dinner, did you take out the trash, did you do the laundry?). Allow for some time to be playful and fun – remember why you love each other.
4. Be honest when you feel hurt.
One of the toughest things in a relationship is when one person clams up and gives the other the silent treatment. It’s usually because the person feels hurt and doesn’t know how to express that pain. It never helps the situation though.
So as difficult as it is to be vulnerable, you’ve got to share when you’re hurt. And if your partner or spouse shares how you’ve hurt them, listen without judgement. Getting defensive won’t help either. Listen and apologize that you’ve made them feel bad. Discuss how you can both do it better next time.
5. Create some shared goals.
This is another strategy to create a team mentality. When you work together towards common goals, you feel invested in your relationship and like you have a true partnership.
Whether it’s saving for a house, planning a trip, or searching for a new pet – find something you both want and figure out the steps you’ll take to work towards it.
6. Allow your partner (and yourself) some space.
This one is so important for those of us who love to smother with love! Give your partner free time and space and allow yourself to take it as well. Perhaps you both have individual interests you want to pursue or friends you’d like to catch up with. Or it may be as simple as wanting 30 minutes alone in the morning to meditate and quietly sip coffee.
Set your boundaries for the alone time you need and respect your partner’s wishes as well.
7. Schedule a weekly or bi-monthly check-in.
Create a family meeting time when you talk about all the stuff – finances, the state of your relationship, upcoming plans, your couple goals. When you drip and drab information or issues out over the week it can feel taxing.
Creating a business meeting of sorts allows you to bring up issues in non-emotional way. If there is tough stuff you need to talk about, let them know in advance. We often create a little agenda for what we want to cover – it usually includes a quick budget review, a discussion of social events we need to discuss (include after hours work events or anything else that needs to be on a shared calendar), house maintenance, and any travel or vacation plans we’d like to make.
This is also a great time to discuss the shared work of your house/lives. If there is an inequality in cleaning, laundry, parenting, etc time this is a great time to discuss it.
8. Ask for what you need and ask them what they need.
If you need more support, you need to speak up. Check in regularly with yourself and your partner. Consider if your emotional and physical needs are being met. Be clear with your partner what you need them to do.
So much frustration can occur in relationships when one partner has expectations that they’ve never verbalized. If you need something, you are the only person who might know it! Similarly, ask your partner if there’s anything they need from you – you might be surprised by what they say.
9. Carve out some special time together.
Create time during each week to do something special together. Do you have a shared interest in board games, or hiking, or pottery? How can you play together? It can be as easy as going outside and throwing a frisbee around. But find a way to have some fun together.
10. Tell them specifically why you appreciate them.
People love hearing why they’re appreciated. Instead of just saying, I really appreciate you, say something like I really appreciate it when you tidy up right after dinner. Or, I really appreciate that you are so thoughtful when talking to your friends. Whatever is great about them, let them know!
11. Tell them specifically why you love them.
Separately from appreciation, tell your partner specifically why you love them. Maybe they are patient or incredibly kind or very funny. Tell them often what you love about them and why it’s important to you.
12. Be a supportive listener.
Practice active listening with your partner. When they share something with you, give them your attention. This often involves me having to put my phone down! Listen, ask questions, and offer support.
Unless they specifically ask, don’t try to ‘solve the problem’ for them. Most of the time, people aren’t looking for solutions, they just want to discuss the issue. They’ll come to their own solution but they probably need to think about it by discussing it verbally first.
13. Hold hands or practice other physical affection when you can.
Physical touch makes us feel connected. Unless you’re in a situation where it’s inappropriate or your partner is uncomfortable with PDA, try to hold hands while you’re walking or link arms. Give them a hug sporadically throughout the day just to reconnect.
14. Do something special for them on a non-special day.
Don’t just show them they’re special on their birthday, plan something special for a random Wednesday. Do something you know they’d love or have always wanted to try. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just plan a fun date for both of you.
15. Create some rituals together.
Create some shared experiences that you both love. It could be something around the holidays or that you eat fried chicken every Friday night. Whatever is it, find something that is just yours that you can regularly count on.
What are some other ways you actively try to make your relationship stronger? Let us know in the comments below.
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