By Pamela Madsen
Building a healthy, strong relationship isn’t easy.
Relationships aren’t always all fun and games. They take hard work and effort to really make them last. But, as long as both you and your partner are willing to put in that effort, your relationship can become that unbreakable, forever-type of love.
Before you read on, understand this important truth: Relationships are a practice. None of us get it right all the time. Practice love. Practice the relationship. Just practice.
Now, here are some tips for obtaining a healthy relationship that will stand the test of time.
1. Most squabbles, confrontations, fights, and disruptions are just that.
People can say really awful things to each other and even to others about their beloved, when they are in the heat of things – even people who really love each other and want to be in each other’s lives. Really. It’s just human.
Does it have to be a deal breaker? Can you walk out the door, slam it, and come back again? Sometimes, we lose ourselves and no one knows how to hurt us like the ones that love us the most.
What if you choose your relationship and each other over the disagreement, no matter how big and hot and awful it was? Can you love each other anyway and just leave it? People who love each other longer than a week can do this.
2. Never underestimate the value of kissing someone good morning or good night.
Or, asking how your partner’s day went. Yes, I know — it’s so traditional, right? But, these simple, loving gestures speak volumes to each other.
You are precious to me and I care. I want to listen to your day. I want to kiss you when I open my eyes. I want to hold you for a minute before we sleep. No matter what happens between you and me during the day, there will always be this.
3. Understand that relationships come with expectations and commitments.
You might really need to go that dinner that you don’t want to go to. Try to smile. You partner may really need you to do certain things for them, so that they feel loved, adored, and cherished.
You might not love it all or feel like it. But if you want in, you may need to offer each other gifts that are not always comfortable or fun for you. You might even have to give up stuff for each other. Relationships come with obligations, but it’s so worth it.
4. Give presents.
Do the unexpected. Surprise each other. Is it the loving sexy text during the day? Or maybe buying his favorite cookies at the store?
Surprises do not have to be big to be fabulous. It’s amazing how offering up a bit of a loving surprise can keep the heat burning.
5. Say “I love you” a lot and often.
No one gets tired of hearing that. And if you lover asks you if you love them, that is a real red flag. Asking if you are loved is a really vulnerable act. No one wants to ask.
Use your words. Or, pass a note. Try endearments. Sprinkle that sugar everywhere. The days are long and life is challenging. Sometimes, you can even end a disagreement with these three words.
6. Don’t pick on each other in public.
Don’t make each other the butt of a joke in front of people. When we use the phrase “at each other’s expense,” that is real. Every time you turn someone into your punch line, you are paying out of their own self-esteem. Don’t do it.
7. Help each other.
Whether it is taking on some work or simply cheerleading, how can you help each other when one of you gets overwhelmed? Try “I love you” or taking on some of the work. Yes, do the dishes.
8. Have each other’s back.
Do not tolerate people talking badly about your partner — ever. I don’t care how small it is, this is a zero tolerance zone. If your partner can’t count on you to defend them, than who can they trust?
9. Respond to communications.
If your partner texts you, calls you, or sends up smoke signals, please respond. Hit reply. If you don’t have time to really respond, let them know. That takes a minute.
There is nothing worse than writing to your significant other and not having them acknowledge you in any way. Selective ignoring doesn’t work either. Talk about a drama builder. And if your partner needs you, they should come first.
10. Offer gratitude.
Do you say “thank you” and can you say “thank you” in a more loving way than “thank you”? Love and relationship maintenance often need more than simple niceties, but if that is all you have in that moment, do that.
But, how can you offer gratitude to your partner for their love, attention, and commitment? Do you offer appreciation for their efforts to support your life? Do you ever offer love tokens publicly?
Take inventory in how you acknowledge each other’s efforts. Appreciate each other privately and publicly.
11. Share your extra-curricular plans with your significant other.
Don’t hide stuff like meeting an old flame for a drink, a business trip, or even meeting a friend after work for dinner. Sure, you should do all these things, but if you don’t share your plans, how can they make plans of their own?
When you don’t share your plans, it can feel like “sneaking around” and that can become a trust issue. And if you don’t come home as expected, maybe they might worry that aliens have abducted you!
12. Don’t be one of those couples fighting in the hotel lobby.
Just don’t fight or talk about difficult stuff when you travel together or take vacations. Travel and vacations are filled with unexpected stress as it is. Nothing ever goes as expected. Leave it and love each other through it.
Don’t talk about the taxes, the funky business deal, or the old flame. No blaming over missed airline connections. Keep distractions out.
If you feel the big fight coming on, walk away from it and instead say: “You know I love you, right?” and bring out the “I’m sorry.”
13. Kiss — a lot.
Deep kisses, kisses on the forehead, little pecks on the lips. Hold hands when you walk down the street. Wait for each other, even if your significant other is taking too long and you are getting restless. Don’t walk ahead. Open doors.
14. Celebrate each other.
Did one of you score a big one at work? Did something better than nice happen in their lives? Call it out! Congratulate them! Do a happy dance! If you’re not their cheerleader, who will be?
15. Notice each other.
Did your significant other dress up? Say something! Offer a whistle! Did their smile look beautiful when you opened your eyes in the morning? Mention it. “Hello, Sexy!” A well-placed butt pinch can be a very good thing between lovers.
16. Have sex.
Make love. Touch each other. Make room for intimacy. Go on a sex adventure. Build sexual anticipation. Flirt with each other. Do this a lot.
17. Give each other your attention and presence.
Don’t text with friends or play with social media when you are having a date or special time together.
18. Choose love.
Pamela Madsen is a writer who focuses on relationships, dating, and love. For more of her relationship content, visit her author profile on The Good Men Project.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.