We all know that relationships take work and there are several key behaviors that stand out to help couples learn how to have a healthy relationship. But even the best relationship advice may not cover these points.
Although attempts are not always perfect, healthy couples have a committed mindset as they continue to evolve and change as the years go by. They recognize that “good enough” is well… good enough, and that there is no such thing as a perfect relationship.
1. Have more sex.
Sex is a healthy part of their relationship. Although it doesn’t define their relationship, sex is an important part of it. However, that being said and while we are on the topic, let’s debunk the myth of “regular sex” right now.
There is no such thing as regular sex. What is that anyway? Who knows, who cares. Someone, somewhere came up with the theory that two times a week is regular sex. Ah, no.
Regular sex is whatever the couple decides is regular sex. That could be once a week. Once a month. Twice a week. Twice a month. You get the gist. Importance is placed on what is good for the couple and what works for them. Not anyone else. Not any other couple.
2. Be curious.
Couples are curious about one another by nature and curiosity will remain as long as you two are together. They ask questions. They remain open to trying new things.
Remember the beginning? Remember when we were excited to do new things together and were curious and interested about the other person, their life, interests? That hasn’t changed. We are hard wired for novelty and seek that out. Are you doing things that create the novelty in the relationship?
3. Be open.
For discussion, that is. Couples discuss, share, argue, and disagree. They talk about things that are important to them. Even the difficult subjects.
Effective communication skills are vital to having a conversation that doesn’t become circular in nature (though some always will) but are more inclined to have a resolution even if its to agree to disagree with one another. They both can use their voice.
Caution for those couples who say they never fight. There is no such thing! All this means is that someone is deferring all too often and is not being honest or truthful about how they feel.
4. Unplug from technology.
They work hard to stay connected and sometimes that includes disconnecting from things so they can reconnect again. They recognize that it isn’t always necessary to be connected to the outside world.
One-on-one time is important. There are many benefits to unplugging. Besides, when did the tv, smart phone, or computer become more important than your relationship? This just sounds plain silly to me.
5. Create space.
They create time together and time apart. Both are vital. And necessary. Too much time together can make a person feel that they are losing their identity, their individuality.
Continue to be the person your partner or spouse fell in love with. They recognize their differences and embrace their similarities, not perfectly by they do. Couples are in a search to find time to be a couple, yet maintain their sense of self, their individual self.
Besides, time apart makes you cherish the time together and creates a “missing you” feeling that enhances intimacy.
6. Cultivate outside interests.
How couples negotiate this varies. However, individual interests keep the novelty alive and create space between couples that is needed to remain curious about one another.
Neither person is threatened by their partner’s interests with family and friends that do not always include them. They recognize this is part of who they are. Important!
7. Don’t hold baggage.
Let’s face it — we all have it. Some more than others, others less than some. Some have a carry on (this is good) while others tote a 4 or 6 piece set of luggage (not so good).
If you are toting the 4 or 6 piece, I strongly suggest you get some help with your struggles. Each person learns to take care of their own “stuff.” That’s your primary job in life.
You don’t rely on your partner to take care of your issues. You don’t hold your partner hostage to past relationships and don’t bring all the ills of previous relationships to their current relationship.
8. Be one and done.
They know that a slight or falter does not define the person they are (unless this is an ongoing problem). We are all fallible and make mistakes. We say and do dumb things. People learn how to look at the situation in its context, not as a single error that the person will be defined by.
9. Grow together.
Healthy couples continue to grow and evolve. They put the effort into being a better person. They bring their best self to the table.
Remember the early days when time and care were put into how we look and taking care of ourselves? Although there is an element of minutia in life, they work hard not to settle into a routine that prevents them from growing.
10. Ebb and flow.
Healthy couples don’t focus on all the negative and understand that to have the good times means you have to recognize that there will be difficult and challenging times.
11. List what you love about each other.
Each person can list many positive things they like/love about their partner. They make their list and can talk openly about their struggles as well as the positive things they like about one another.
Yes, there will be challenges and things that drive you crazy! But they are able to look past those things and focus in on the good.
12. Understand the “Happiness Factor.”
Each person doesn’t hold their partner/spouse responsible for their happiness. Never works! Sure, it’s nice to feel validated and hear those words. It’s equally reassuring that your partner makes you happy — but the happiness you feel from your partner should be ancillary to how you feel about yourself. Happiness starts at home!
This is not to say that couples maintain their healthy relationship flawlessly because they do not. They do however work hard at consistently approaching their partner with respect, openness and a willingness to be introspective enough to examine their mistakes, make necessary changes and improve.
Dr. Kristin Davin is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in marriage, divorce, dating and relationships. She helps people build better relationships, whether it’s with their spouse, partner, children, siblings, parents, coworkers or friends.