Relationships take a great deal of work but they’re worth every drop of love and effort put into them. I’m by no means a relationship expert, but by learning and applying some basic principles, the entire course of my marriage changed for the better. Here are 7 things you can start practicing today!

  1. Communicate.  Be mindful of how you do or don’t use your words. Sometimes it’s difficult to stop and think about what you’re saying when emotions are running wild. In these instances, pause to process your feelings. When you’re ready, speak calmly and from the heart. Conversely, shutting down and keeping emotions bottled up inside can create space, but by expressing feelings, partners can grow closer together. Every time you speak (or don’t), you have the opportunity to strengthen your relationship or damage it.
  2. Listen.  Sometimes we think we’re listening, when really we’re listening to ourselves… what we’re going to say next or how to counter the other persons arguments. Try setting aside your own story and really listen to what the other person is saying and not just what you are hearing. Imagine how this person feels in his or her shoes.
  3. Take responsibility.  Instead of focusing on your partners faults or being defensive, recognize how your own words and actions could be causing or perpetuating the situation. Ask yourself, “What am I doing to make this situation worse?” and “What can I do to make it better?”
  4. Forgive.  Although we’re capable of intentionally saying or doing mean-spirited things to hurt the ones we love when we’re upset, conflict is rarely the result of malicious intent. In these instances, don’t sweat the small stuff. Acknowledge and communicate your hurt to your partner but also see the innate goodness in your partner instead of vilifying him or her. Being human means we all make mistakes. Forgive imperfections and move on.
  5. Find balance.  In order to grow and to flourish, relationships need to be nourished on a regular basis. If you don’t spend enough quality time together, you can become emotionally disengaged. However, if you become too dependent on each other, your individual identities can get lost. Developing interests separate from your partner will help you keep your sense of self.
  6. Love.  Physical intimacy is a natural, healthy and vital part of relationships – but with kids, work and the everyday stresses of life, most couples are too exhausted. Set the mood with sensual music,  light some candles or give a massage with some essential oils… or be spontaneous!
  7. Give.  Let go of the expectation that your partner is someone who is there to make you happy. Try focusing on your partner instead. Compliment, be generous with affection, give a simple or thoughtful gift, do an act of kindness… you’ll be amazed at the results!

What tips do you have for creating stronger relationships? Please share by commenting below! 

Image used with permission by Nirrimi Firebrace.