How to Work Your Way to a Healthier Relationship

With roses, hearts, couples holding hands, love songs, gifts ‘for him’ and gifts ‘for her’, you don’t need many more reminders that Valentine’s Day is around the corner. While many will say that love is in the air, others will turn a blind eye on the season of love. However, Valentine’s Day doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic, and can be a great time for you to reflect on the people and moments that have impacted your life and make new memories with those you love.

Relationships – all relationships – aren’t always easy though, and sometimes take more work than we’re willing to put in (after all, a healthy relationship doesn’t just happen by accident, does it?). While friendships and relationships do evolve and are sometimes best left in the past, many are worth working through.

Falling in love is easy but staying in love is another matter. Long-term relationships can be hard, there are many, many hills and valleys. 

As a result, we put together a guide to help you work your way to a healthier relationship, full of love and trust.

Show gratitude

So how do you balance the teeter-totter of your relationship? One way is to be grateful for each other. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that couples enjoy higher relationship satisfaction when they feel thankful for their partners. Some claim that this simple practice of gratitude helps remind couples what it is that they love about their partner.

Friendship is important

Relationship experts have found that the most significant factor that determines whether couples stay together is the quality of the couple’s friendship.

Effective Communication

Trust is key to healthy relationships, and the steppingstone to building it is communication. Here are a few simple tips to help you build your communication skills:

Active listening: Though talking openly is great, sometimes we need to take a step back and listen. But active listening isn’t just about letting the other person speak and nodding your head. Show that you are engaged in the conversation. Ask questions, repeat the last thing they have said when you’re replying, make eye contact.

Objective observation: When someone is telling you a story, seeking advice or communicating a problem, try not to let your judgment take over right away. Actively listen to what they have to say and, before forming your own opinion, put aside your judgment. Often when our opinions can be heard as criticism, leading to a breakdown in communication. Though expressing your own feeling is important, try not to jump to conclusions right away.

Feelings: After having listened and observed, start expressing your feelings. Waiting to do this until now will show the person that not only have you heard what they are trying to say, but that you’ve acknowledged it. This will allow your feelings to come through more calmly and genuinely, and will hopefully help you build trust and open communication.

Managing emotions

Learning how to manage and understand our emotions is a process that can often be confusing. Sometimes we don’t know how we feel about someone and sometimes our feelings can take over our decision-making abilities, making us feel like an emotional rollercoaster. Here are a few things you can do to start to learn how to increase your emotional intelligence:

Take a look at the impact of your emotions: Not all emotions are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. So even though trusting people is important, it’s also good to know what that trust really means, so that you are not blinded by it. Are you accepting things at face value and forgetting your own values? Or is your trust enabling you to develop stronger, loving and balanced relationships with those around you?

Accept your emotions: Though it’s important to know where you stand, try not to repress your emotions. Instead, accept what you are feeling and look at ways you can develop from there. For example, if you feel betrayed, don’t push away the feeling. Instead think of what this has taught you about yourself and how you can use your experience to live a happier life? Accepting responsibility is also important and being wrong is a part of life. If you have done something wrong, try to think constructively about what you could have done differently then accept it, and move on.

Keep a mood journal: Mood journaling can help you notice patterns in your mood and causes for any big shifts. Take a couple of minutes every morning to write down how you’re feeling on a scale of 1 to 10. You could track emotions such as trust, anticipation, fear, joy and sadness. Over time, this might help you understand how your emotions work and what your triggers are.

Negativity is a no-no

The trick to maintaining a healthy relationship is to keep negativity at bay. This can be done by avoiding “Deadly Relationship Habits.” These include:

  • Criticism
  • Complaining
  • Nagging
  • Blaming
  • Threatening
  • Punishing

Happy couples habitually and consciously practice “Caring Habits.”  These include:

  • Listening
  • Accepting
  • Supporting
  • Encouraging
  • Respecting
  • Trusting
  • Negotiating differences

Try something new together

Climbing out of a dating rut can be difficult. But couples who participate in exciting activities get a big boost in relationship satisfaction, according to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. So grab your significant other and get ready for a good — but different — time.

Be open about your spendings

Nearly 40 percent of married people admit to lying to their spouse about a purchase, and money is the number-one reason couples fight. You don’t have to be a financial martyr, but don’t hide your spending habits, either.

Assess your sex drive

If you’re not interested in sex — but you would like to be — there might be a medical explanation. Reduced blood flow? Diabetes and high blood pressure are among the health problems that can restrict genital blood flow. Hormonal issues? Menopause, breast-feeding, birth control pills and thyroid problems can dampen sexual desire. You can try watching xxx videos to get you in the mood. Medication side effects? Antidepressants and chemotherapy agents such as tamoxifen are frequently to blame. Make an appointment with your primary care doctor if you’ve noticed an unwanted decrease in your libido and they may recommend getting a p-shot (for males).

Anabel Cooper

Anabel is a graduate of King’s College London and upon graduating, she set out on a journey to inspire and empower women through her words. Besides working as a digital marketing expert, Anabel is a freelance copywriter.