Relationships are an intrinsic part of a meaningful life, but establishing and maintaining them takes work. Putting in the time and effort to build a strong, healthy, lasting relationship can be beneficial to your well-being and your partner’s.
In good times, a strong relationship is fulfilling and joyous. When things get tough, it is the bedrock that keeps you safe and secure.
Here are some tips to help you strengthen your relationship with your partner. Look them over together and think about how and when you can practice these steps.
Understand yourself and your needs
Having a strong relationship with someone else starts with having a good relationship with yourself.
Take the time to explore what you bring to a relationship—your strengths, your traumas, and areas where you need to improve.
Knowing what you offer as a partner can allow you to express your needs more fully and be more open with your partner about them, both of which are key to a healthy relationship.
Communicate openly and honestly
No matter how much you and your partner have in common, they will never be able to read your mind.
The ability to express yourself clearly and honestly is one of the most important skills you can bring to a relationship.
It allows you to tell your partner about your needs and respond openly when they do the same.
If you have trouble expressing your emotions or asking your partner to meet your needs, it may be worth working on your communication skills with a therapist.
The ability to communicate authentically can improve your relationships in every area of your life – including with your friends, families and coworkers.
This is the other side of clear communication. Just like you want your partner to make an effort to understand you when you communicate your needs, you should extend the same gift of full presence their way.
When your partner opens up to you, be fully present and engaged. Practice active listening.
Give your partner space to speak and fully express themselves, but do ask questions if you need more information or if something isn’t clear to you.
Make your partners feel seen. Show them that you care about and understand where they are coming from.
Many people have preconceived notions about the way a relationship should be and the role a partner should play in their life.
One naïve idea is that people in strong relationship don’t fight. Of course they do. One of the main difference is that in healthy relationship hurt feelings get felt and heard and repair is made. No steps is skipped.
Another one: we’ve been programmed to believe that our romantic relationship must cover all our needs and that if they don’t, then something is terribly wrong. Of course, it’s unrealistic to rely on one person to fulfill all your needs. Extending the circles of relationships you maintain is often healthy and fulfilling.
Our expectations about what relationships are supposed to look like often get in the way of truly seeing the positive qualities in a partner or relationship. We are so disappointed by the missed expectations that we fail to see and appreciate the person who is right front of us.
What we should strive for is a dance. The dance of love.
A dance of presence between our own internal world and presence with the intimate reality of our lover.
Resolve to build your relationship on a foundation of mutual respect and love, and incorporate good relationship practices from there.
Many couples find that meeting with a therapist helps them maintain strong, fulfilling relationships, or work through difficult patches. If you’d like to discuss your relationship with a counselor, contact Manhattan Mental Health at 212-960-8626 today to set up an appointment. Our counselors offer in-person and online sessions, and are committed to helping you improve your relationship no matter your schedule.