If you want to know how to have a healthy relationship, knowing what things to never ignore is key.
You’ve probably seen lists of all the things you need to do to keep your relationship happy but it’s rare to see one that reveals the key things you might miss.
These are things that might be happening in your relationship right now that you might be ignoring. And they’re taking you down a dangerous path.
When I was married, there were plenty of signs that I ignored. If I had noticed them, they would have shown me how unhappy my relationship truly was.
If you want to know how to have a healthy relationship, don’t ignore these 5 things.
1. You’ve stopped talking to each other.
Think about it.
When was the last time your partner came home from work and you put down what you were doing and greeted them? When was the last time you talked about something other than the children or work?
When was the last time you connected on any meaningful topic? When was the last time you had pillow talk before you went to bed? When was the last time you talked about an issue that really needed to be discussed instead of avoiding it?
Every healthy relationship “to do” list talks about the importance of communication. And, yes, it is so very important.
But it’s also important to talk about the good stuff — the stuff that makes you feel connected and interested in each other, the stuff that’s always made you laugh together.
If you notice that you’re no longer talking to each other, if your conversations consist purely of talking about the kids and/or fighting, then this is definitely one of those things to never ignore.
2. You’re kicking things down the road.
If there’s one thing I regret more than anything else in my marriage, it’s that we kicked things down the road and put off dealing with issues that should have been addressed immediately.
I think we both knew that there were problems in our marriage but both of us hoped that, if we were patient and if life eventually got less crazy, we would be able to work through them.
Over time, our issues got bigger because we didn’t address them. And then, one day, they were just too big and our marriage ended.
When you have a work project or a homework project due and you work on it regularly, you know you’ll be able to finish on time and get a good grade or positive feedback.
You know what happens when you procrastinate and get it done at the last minute?
That was my marriage. We started out eager to work hard to be happy but, as time went on and things got harder, we started procrastinating, assuming that we would one day be able to get our project in on time successfully.
But we never did.
3. Making decisions on your own.
I remember very well when my daughter came home from her second week of high school and announced that she wanted to go to boarding school. We had just moved to Boulder and she was at her first public school and she hated it. More than anything.
She went upstairs, did research on boarding schools, and within an hour, found two that she was interested in attending.
Without even talking to my husband, I reached out to both of those schools to see if they might have availability for a last-minute entrant. One of them did. I made an appointment to visit that school over the weekend with my daughter.
I did all of this without checking with my husband.
By the time he got home, I had created a narrative that I shared with him, one where it seemed like I asked him his opinion about what he thought about our daughter going to boarding school, but, really, I knew the decision had already been made.
What should have happened is that my daughter sat down with both of her parents and talked through what she wanted to do and made a decision together with all of us together.
If we had done that, I believe that my husband and I, because we were sharing the decision-making, would have stayed closer to each other instead of being driven further apart.
Instead, I took over and made the decision, leaving my husband feeling like he wasn’t part of the team. But he didn’t say anything, and I did the same thing over and over. And he did too.
Making decisions unilaterally is definitely one of those things to never ignore if you want a healthy relationship.
4. You aren’t making each other a priority.
I know, I know. Life is crazy. There are children, careers, parents, exercise, TikTok, Instagram, and TV. But there’s also your relationship and it’s important to always take it into consideration.
What if I asked you where on that list above you would put your relationship. Would you put it first? Third? Fifth? Choose one and take note.
Now, think about how that looks in real life. Do you treat your partner like they’re first, third, or fifth? Or are they usually (or always) at the end of your list? Or perhaps you mean to make them first, third, or fifth but other things get in the way.
Try to think about your relationship like you do your job. You have to go to work every day and focus on the job so that you can get it done and get it done well.
Can you have the same perspective in your relationships? Can you remember that it’s important to work on them every day to get the job done well?
Make your relationship one of your top (if not your top) priorities and make sure that you stick to that.
You would be amazed at how many little hurts can be overcome if your person knows that you make them a priority every day and never put them last.
5. You’ve stopped touching each other.
When you were first together, did you and your partner regularly touch? Did you hug, put your arms around each other as you walked down the street, and hold hands at the movies? Was touching a normal and natural part of your day?
Do you still touch?
For many people, the first thing that goes as couples become disconnected from each other is touching. It isn’t because couples no longer care, but it’s that they no longer have the inclination — or the time — to do so.
And letting go of touch is letting go of a big part of a romantic connection.
Touch is incredibly important in an intimate relationship. Not necessarily in terms of sex, but it’s important to hold hands, hug, or even pat someone’s butt as they walk by.
Touching your partner intimately sets that relationship apart from every other relationship in your life and being different makes that relationship special.
If you continue to touch, then your relationship will have an excellent chance of staying healthy.
Remember, there are many lists out there of things you should do to have a healthy relationship but it’s also really important to know the things not to ignore.
If you’ve stopped communicating, aren’t dealing with issues in a timely manner, make plans on your own, put your partner at the end of your list, and stop touching each other, your relationship is in jeopardy.
Take action right now. Don’t ignore these things. Work with your partner to keep your relationship healthy. One person in a relationship, alone, can not do all the work to keep it healthy.
It’s a team effort. Make sure that you share this list with your partner so that you can work together to keep your relationship healthy and happy.
Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. She’s helped countless people find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live.
This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.