9 Tips on Building Healthy Relationships

Dating and marital relationship is about sharing, partnership, love and intimacy. A healthy and strong foundation will guide us through many challenges and conflicts over the span of a lifetime There are many things we can do on a daily basis to help us feel more intimate with each other. There are also many other things we may do, even unintentionally, which create further distance in our courting relationship or marriage.

1. Negotiating Gaps and Differences
Being able to negotiate gaps and differences are crucial in an intimate relationship. It is inevitable that a couple will be confronted with many challenges during the course of their relationship. However, a good relationship is dependent upon whether we are able to negotiate, to discuss, to listen to each other¡¦s perspectives or even to adjust our expectations when problems arises. There are times we may need to agree to disagree. If a couple is unable to negotiate their differences, they will be caught in a never-ending conflict regarding the smallest little matter. Lifelong human relationship is filled with many difficulties. If a couple can negotiate differences and disagreement, it means they can together sustain many challenges in life.

2. Taking Initiations
We long to be loved and taken care of in a loving relationship. At the same time, we need to care and show our love to the other partner. However, often times, one partner may become the sole person to assume all responsibilities. If the same person is always taking initiatives in a relationship, it can become very exhausting for him or her. He or she may even feel resentful or betrayed at some point. After all, a loving and intimate relationship is about partnership. A couple relationship is unlike a parent-child relationship where the parents would take care of all a child¡¦s needs. Taking initiations in a relationship means you will care enough to think about what needs to be done in the household on your own initiation rather than being told to do so by the other person. It also means you care enough about both of you that you will plan ahead for holidays, think about what needs to be shopped for or what needs to be taken care of in your household. It also means that you will ask about your partner¡¦s feelings and check on his/her needs. If a person is caring enough to take initiations, it means that this person values the relationship significantly.

3. Balancing Responsibilities & Decision Making
In addition to taking initiatives, we also need to share responsibilities and the task of making decisions. Is one person often assumed to have the power to authorize all decisions? Or will a shared discussion take place with respect? In a lot of cultures, we assume the man is the head of the family. This concept is not necessarily problematic as long as both parties agree willingly that someone will assume some form of leadership in the relationship. It becomes a problem when one of the parties does not trust the other person or is forced into being submissive.

4. Seeking Each Other for Comfort & Support
Life can be full of ups and downs .We are not always happy and satisfied. Sometimes we are bound to feel a little blue or even feel hurt by our lovers. When this happens, do you tend to turn toward your partner for support and comfort? Or you are afraid to share with him or her, your deepest feelings? Often times we choose to share our feelings with our friends or families over our spouses. Nevertheless, in healthy relationships, we need to be able to share our feelings with our partners even when we are angry at them. While we keep turning away from our partners, this may create further distance and leave room for extra-marital affairs.

5.Open Communication means No Secrets
Are you keeping secrets from one another? Or is your spouse your best friend? A couple should be able to talk to each other about anything, including complaints you have for each other. If a couple is unable to trust one another and share their highest hopes and deepest fears, the bond is broken already. You should be concerned if you are in a habit of keeping your thoughts and emotions from your spouse. By doing so, you have started building a distance between the two of you.

6. Accepting Individual Differences
Even we are madly in love with one another, we still have our own preferences and personal differences as individuals. Every human being is unique in his or her own way. We should be able to allow differences in a dating relationship or a marriage. It is not necessary to always do the same thing together. We should allow some personal freedom and personal space. In a healthy relationship, it is crucial to be able to respect each other¡¦s viewpoints as well as individual differences. We cannot always demand the other person to be exactly like ¡§us¡¨. Perhaps the two of you share lots of similarities and common interests, as you reflect on how you fell in love with the other person ¡V is it because he or she can provide something you don¡¦t have and can make you complete? Or is it only because he or she is exactly like you?

7. Shared Goals, Shared Dreams & Shared Lives
Sometimes we may need to be parted for various reasons. Perhaps it is due to work or perhaps it is due to other reasons that we have to keep a distant relationship. Distance relationship gets in the way of 2 people sharing their lives and feelings. Despite the advance in our technologies, a distance relationship impedes the physical intimacy in a relationship. You cannot share the same food together in physical proximity. You cannot see the same flower (perhaps over a screen of your cell phone or a webcam). Intimacy takes a toad when a relationship is kept in a distance for a prolong period of time. Although we will always have our own preferences and difference, a couple should have shared lives, shared goals and shared dreams in the course of their lifelong relationship. However, allowing differences does not mean we should keep secrets from each other or living separate lives. It is necessary for a couple to start building a shared life. Ideally, there should be some common interests or hobbies. The most important is to have or start establishing a shared goal and dream thought in your life.

8. Appreciating and Admiring
Do you find anything about your spouse that you can admire of? Or do you always put down your spouse and feel that he or she is never good enough? Are you still in love with him or her after all these years of marriage? Does he or she still look as handsome or pretty now that the 2 of you are no longer young and wild? Being able to continue to appreciate and admire your spouse as a lovely person is crucial in making your relationship long-lasting.

9. Keep on Dating & Spending Quality Time
It is puzzling why we always talk hours on the phone or are desperate to see each other for even 10 minutes here or there while we were dating. Once a lot of couples are married and with children, they rarely even spend 10 minutes asking how each others¡¦ days were at night time. Keep on dating and spending quality time are one of the most important way to invest in your love bank. Just like watering a plant, the 2 of you will become dried up and tired of each other if you stop investing in your relationship.

Reference:

  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

Recommended Books:

  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
  • After the affair : healing the pain and rebuilding trust when a partner has been unfaithful by Janis Spring & Michael Spring