9 Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship with Your Partner
Let’s be honest: even the best relationships can be hard. They require time and work, and they don’t always feel fun. But most good things in life require effort—and a good, happy, and healthy relationship is certainly worth it. If you’re ready to improve the health and longevity of your relationship, start implementing these tips, many of which are enjoyable as well as effective.
Cook a meal together
With busy schedules and the fatigue of a long, stressful day, it can often be hard to find quality time with your partner. Since you need to eat anyway, why not work together to make that meal? Relationship experts counsel that cooking together is a great and easy low-stakes way for couples to learn together, work together, and improve communication.
Plan an activity that your partner really enjoys
We’ve all been there—trying to plan an activity but neither of you can agree on the same thing. While it can sometimes be difficult to find activities that you both enjoy, don’t let that stop you from spending quality time together. Decide instead to do something solely because your partner enjoys it. You’ll feel good about making a choice that’s about their happiness, and they’ll appreciate the gesture. Plus, you might even find that you enjoy a new hobby or activity!
In his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey says that “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” So it’s no surprise that the common complaint that your partner “doesn’t listen to me” has almost become a relationship cliché. Active listening is fundamental to understanding your partner’s needs and experiences while also helping you grow closer as a couple. Learn more about how to develop active listening skills from relationship expert Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne.
Put down your smartphones
Especially given the difficulty finding quality time to spend together, the last thing you want to do is sabotage that time by staring at your phone. Nevertheless, research shows that cell phone use is negatively affecting relationships and limiting couples’ communication skills.1 Try setting ground rules, such as cellphone and Internet free times and zones in the home.
Read a book together
Reading a book together doesn’t necessarily mean that you sit and read to each other out loud—although that might be fun. Simply reading the same book or even just reading different books at the same time has been shown to improve relationships. This is partly because research indicates that couples grow closer by exploring and sharing new ideas, so it’s important that you take the time to discuss what you are reading, even if it isn’t the same book.2 If reading isn’t your thing, try finding other mind-stimulating experiences you can share together, such as listening to and then discussing the same podcast.
We sometimes delude ourselves into thinking that happy, healthy couples never fight. Wrong—disagreements are a natural and vital part of any relationship. Otherwise rancor and resentments can simmer, even about seemingly inconsequential things. The key, experts argue, is to make sure that you “fight fair,” which means remaining calm, being specific about what is bothering you, avoiding accusations, and taking responsibility for your errors. For more tips, see the UT Counseling tips for fighting fair.
One of the biggest obstacles to feeling close and connected to your partner is oftentimes your own pent-up anger, fears, or self-doubt. It’s certainly important that you discuss these issues with your partner, but that can often be difficult when these emotions function on an unconscious level. With ZYTO EVOX perception reframing, you can use the power of your own voice to actively reframe subconscious perceptions that may be limiting you and hurting your relationships. More and more health practitioners, including psychologists and counselors, are using the EVOX, so search out providers that offer these sessions in your area.
Plan a regular date night
While it’s important to find time together, even if it’s just over a quick meal at home, research indicates that it’s still important to plan regular formal dates and shared experiences. Indeed, it’s been shown that the novelty factor of planned date nights helps improve couples’ communication and sense of attachment.3 While it may be difficult to schedule a weekly date night, make an effort to still plan, at the very least, a monthly date where you spend time together outside of the home.
Take a simple day trip together
Don’t have the time or resources to spend on a lavish trip? That’s okay—you don’t need to break the bank to spend some quality time together in a new locale. Drive to a nearby town that you’ve never been to: see the sights, do some shopping, try a new restaurant. Or pack a lunch and drive to the nearest mountains or woods and explore. The quality time together with low-stress travel is sure to do the trick.
1. Oaklander, Mandy. “How Your Smartphone is Ruining Your Relationship.” Time. Time.com.
2. Hugel, Melissa. “Science Has Good News for Couples Who Read Together.” Mic. Mic.com.
3. Dashnaw, Daniel. “5 Reasons Why Date Night Is So Important.” Couples Therapy Inc. Couplestherapyinc.com