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Article By: April Driver
Falling in love is fun and overwhelming. It is the stage of your relationship that may hold the sweetest and sexiest memories. However, the most important part of any relationship is the day to day moments that keep us together.
Nurturing your relationship daily is what makes for a healthy, lasting bond. Whether you are newly committed or have been married for years, there are simple practices you can incorporate into your relationship to help maintain the joy and pleasure of being together. Here are 10 practices you can do to improve the quality of your relationship.
1. Listen to Your Partner
Good listening skills are not just for getting you ahead at work. Knowing how to listen to your partner will help build a solid foundation of trust. When you listen well, you will understand your partner’s feelings, needs, and desires.
According to the International Listening Association, more confident people listen better to others than more insecure people. Your good listening skills are a sign of confidence. Not only that but when you listen well to your partner you create an environment of mutual respect. Take the time to listen and communicate honestly with your partner.
2. Make Time for Intimacy
The difference in friendships and committed partnerships is physical intimacy. In order to have a healthy relationship, you must understand your partner’s needs when it comes to physical intimacy. This includes not only your sexual relationship but also other acts of intimate connection.
As we learned in elementary school with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, our sexual desire is a basic human need. As life gets busy with work and family, our sex lives can take a back burner. You may find that scheduling time for sexual intimacy may improve the quality of your relationship.
Also, focusing on other acts of intimacy like stroking your partner’s back while you watch a show instead of scrolling through your phone, may improve your connection. Pay attention to the level of intimate connection you have with your partner throughout the day.
3. Have a Heart for Service
We live in a world of constant messages about meeting our own needs. However, in a happy relationship, you must focus on the needs of each other. In order to do this, you must have a heart for service.
Quality relationships always require selflessness. It is the nature of relationships. This is also true in friendship and parenting. Connection with others is dependent on our ability to let go of selfish desires.
You can practice this in little things like delivering water and pain medicine bedside when your partner has a nasty cold. You can also demonstrate this in bigger things like supporting your partner in changing jobs even though that may be a financial risk. The key is not to always put yourself and your wants first.
4. Make a Plan for the Future
If you are a committed unmarried couple, it is especially important to make a plan for the future. In order to feel secure in your relationship, it is key to know the long-term goals of the relationship. This will help eliminate resentment.
Whether you one day want to get married or not, it is important for each person in the relationship to have the same expectations. This level of honest communication allows for deeper intimacy and less room for misunderstandings.
For marriage, having a plan for the future also relieves stress. Knowing each of your priorities and goals allows you to move forward together on the same page.
5. Know When To Apologize
Do not be unwilling to apologize during your relationship. If you have made a mistake or hurt your partner with your words or actions, it is important to apologize. This will create a foundation of trust in your relationship.
When you apologize you acknowledge and take responsibility for any wrongdoing. A good apology should include remorse for your actions. You should also allow space for your partner to be heard after you apologize.
6. Forgive and Forget
When you are the person in the relationship who has been wronged, you should allow your partner to apologize. You must decide if the offense is something you can forgive and move on from. Once you accept the apology, the healthiest thing for your relationship is to forgive and forget.
Do not hold on to your partner’s mistakes and use them as ammunition later. This is unfair to your partner and will create division and distrust. If your partner has done something you can truly not forgive, your best bet is to move on.
7. Plan Regular Date Nights
It is easy to allow your relationship to get stale. Life is busy and time together can quickly become the tasks of daily life. One way to keep your relationship healthy is to have fun together.
Make time to enjoy each other’s company by scheduling regular date nights. Keep a standing date on the calendar so that work and family do not keep you from spending quality time together. Make sure to mix up your dates with different kinds of activities to keep things interesting.
8. Express Gratitude
We all want to know that we are valued. One way to improve the quality of your relationship is to let your partner know you are grateful for them. This can happen with a simple thank you, a sweet note or a thank you gift.
According to a study at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, expressing gratitude offers many personal benefits. From less focus on material possessions to increased happiness and reduced risks of disease, expressing and reflecting on gratitude improves quality of life.
In my relationship, I also find that when I am mindful of expressing gratitude, I receive more gratitude. This one change in how I interact with my partner benefits all other areas of our relationship.
9. Discover Each Other’s Love Language
According to Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The 5 Love Languages, we each have a primary way we connect with others and feel loved. Taking the time to discover each other’s love language will open the door to deeper connection.
My love language is words of affirmation. When my partner takes the time to notice and affirm my contributions to our household and relationship, I feel valued and seen. This leads to greater intimacy and the overall health of our relationship.
10. Take Ownership Of Yourself
One of the biggest ways you can add to the quality of your relationship is by taking ownership of yourself. Nothing will drain a relationship more quickly than expecting your partner to meet your every need.
Knowing who you are and operating in an independent space gives your partner the freedom to meet their own needs and accomplish their own goals. When we put too much pressure on our relationship to be the primary source of fulfillment in our lives, we will always be disappointed.
Take ownership of your behavior, work, and goals. This will add to the quality and longevity of your relationship. Incorporate these ten practices into your relationship in order to improve the quality of your connection.