Simple Steps to Strengthen Your Relationship
Relationships are tough; that’s the reality. Whether you’re dating, engaged or married, it’s not if we fight, but when we fight - how do we fight fair?
I have had to learn this through trial and error in my own life, and it is hard work to overcome bad habits, negative coping skills, and defense mechanisms. However, it is worth it if you are both willing to learn and grow together.
Below are five ways to generate health in your relationships and break past bad habits. Let’s refocus and strengthen our relationships...it’s worth it.
Build trust. Turn towards one another. Be willing to learn and grow together and trust that you both are wanting each other’s best. Establish a safe space to be vulnerable and share your thoughts and feelings without judgment. To learn more, listen to a short video on The Power of Vulnerability, by Brené Brown.
Be humble. Humility is putting the other person before yourself. It’s keeping their best in mind - even if it means being willing to apologize first if it will bring resolution and harmony, rather than trying to prove a point - relationships are not a court case. Being humble also means asking for forgiveness when mistakes are made. There will be mistakes, we are not perfect, but how you choose to own and handle those mistakes matter. By doing this, you are practicing turning towards each other. I know this is hard, but if the relationship is worth it, so is keeping it honest.
Listen and validate. Be a good listener, show empathy, slow to respond with your own thoughts, but quick to validate the others emotions and how they are feeling. Try active listening in your relationship. It’s about making a conscious decision to hear what the other person is saying and being completely focused on what is being said - without being distracted. It might help to repeat what you hear so that the other person feels heard. For a great resource on active listening, Check out this great resource from How We Love, written by Milan and Kay Yerkovich.
Affirm and practice gratitude. Practice thankfulness and affirm one another. You may need to even set a reminder and that’s okay. It’s important to tell each other what you love about them and that you are grateful for who they are. This can strengthen and sustain your relationship. Try saying something you are thankful for in your relationship everyday this week to your partner.
Establish a shared activity. How often do you spend time together, what do you enjoy doing together? Research shows that couples who enjoy activities together stay together. Engaging in activities that result in excitement and an increased heart rate like exercising, brings couples together and are happier in their relationships (Aron, A., Norman, C. C., Aron, E. N., McKenna, C., & Heyman, R. E., 2000).
How would your relationship change if you turned towards each other in humility, thankfulness, and affirmation, etc. this week?
Thank you for reading!
Leanne Konzelman, MA, LMHCA