The ingredients for a happy, fulfilling relationship are different for every couple. Everybody has different needs. With that said, there is a science to building a strong relationship – partnership that is healthy, loving, and lasts over time. But it won’t happen automatically. Every couple needs to put in work. Below are some proven, expert strategies to make you stronger and happier together.
1. Know Your Partner’s Love Language
The psychologist Gary Chapman created the concept of love languages. The idea is that everyone has a different way of showing love to others. There are five categories: words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch. Which one do you use? Which one does your significant other use?
With this in mind, try asking your partner these two crucial questions:
1) What makes you feel loved the most? Gifts, a night out together, a hug?
2) How do you most often show your love for others? Do you buy them something, do you tell them you love them?
If asking feels awkward, then just observe. If you know your partner well, it should soon become clear which love language comes most naturally to them! Try and use their language when you can.
2. Remember, It’s The Little Things That Build A Strong Relationship
As relationship professionals, we make this point over and over. Love isn’t just about one magical spark. They’re also about showing your love every day, with small gestures. I’m not talking about buying expensive gifts or going on lavish vacations. There are so many simple things you can do. Try simply putting your phones away during dinner. Make eye contact. Kiss every day. Bring your partner a cup of tea in bed.
Nourish your bond daily. Sometimes it can be as simple as checking in. Ask about their day. Once in a while, have a conversation about their goals and dreams. Show them your support.
Of course, we all know every relationship can have its ups and downs. Outside pressures and life changes can put us off-track. The important thing is to come back to why. If you remind yourself why you’re in a relationship and why you care about being together, your bond will flourish. And the little things you do for each other will, in turn, reflect and nurture that.
3. Make Sure Your Conflicts Are Constructive
Are you scared your relationship might be in danger because you had a fight? You don’t have to worry. Conflict in is normal. In fact, if you resolve it in a constructive way, it’s actually healthy. It’s better to talk about your conflicts before they build up and explode.
Disagreements can arise from many different sources. Sometimes, we have unrealistic needs or expectations for the person we love. Perhaps one partner is demonstrating hurtful behavior — with or without knowing it!
No matter what the situation is, you can resolve it in a healthy way:
- Take time to cool off before talking. Don’t try to resolve problems in the heat of the moment.
- Clarify what you really need beforehand. If you don’t really know what you need, how can your partner meet that need?
- Pick your battles. Know some things aren’t crucial. Know there are some issues you simply won’t ever agree on.
- Talk about one thing at a time.
- Think before you speak. Restrain yourself from lashing out. Avoid coming across as critical and putting your partner on the defensive by using statements that begin with “I”, rather than “You”. For example, rather than saying “You never… Why can’t you just…”, you can state how the behavior or action has made you feel. For example: “I feel sad when… I felt frustrated and hurt after…”
With these principles on your side, disagreements won’t hurt your bond, but could actually contribute to the building of a strong relationship. You learn to understand each other better and take your empathy and connection to whole new level.
A Few More Quick Tips:
When you first meet someone special, your time together can seem effortless. But relationships are like cars. At first everything is exciting and easy. But down the road, you need regular maintenance to keep everything running well. These are the vital maintenance habits you need to keep everything running smoothly:
- Talk about what you and your partner need from your relationship.
- Try to understand your partner can’t change to meet all of your expectations. The real person you are dating is different from your ideal partner.
- Work to understand your partner’s point of view. You don’t always have to agree. But understand they are coming from a different perspective.
- When conflicts arise, work hard to compromise. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and avoid lashing out. Communicate with empathy, rather than criticism or aggression
- Show your partner you love them and trust them — often. And do it with words and actions.
In the end, having a strong relationship takes work. However, just by reading this, you’re already on the path to a happier and more rewarding relationship with your loved one.
But you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re struggling, an experienced couples therapist can make a huge difference.
PARC © 2016. PARC (Park Avenue Relationship Consultants) is a group of highly skilled and experienced NYC relationship therapists working with individuals, couples, and families. We have private office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Riverdale, and Long Island. Each PARC therapist has extensive clinical training and experience, and is fully licensed and certified by New York State. Privacy and confidentiality are guaranteed. Out-of-network only. For more information, please call PARC at (917) 340-7592 or visit parkavenuerelationshiptherapy.com.