Having a good and long-lasting relationship isn’t rocket science. By being loving and supportive, you can keep your foundation strong and build your dreams for the future. Here are some ways to help make that happen.
- Be nice to each other. For the vast majority of couples that come to me, this is their first homework assignment, and it almost always helps in a significant way. If you’ve been at odds with each other, you have probably stopped doing nice things for one another. Keep opening doors, making favorite meals, and saying, “I love you.”
- Find little things to do that make your partner smile. I call it my Scavenger Hunt: Every day, I look for something to make my partner smile. It can be a keychain, a flower, or even a good quote—just something to let her know that I’ve been thinking about her and hold her close to my heart.
- Let go of the little things that bug you about your mate. Just say to yourself that those behaviors do not take away from your relationship and let your resentment go. A conversation may be needed, but it can be kept light, because most things can be easily fixed. For example, if your partner likes the TV louder than you do, get a pair of wireless headphones. You will both be happier, and the sound is actually much better.
- Never argue in front of the kids. The greatest gift parents can give their children is to have a good relationship with each other. When you argue, your children can become anxious about what could happen to the family, and to them. Also never use the D word—divorce; it is far too threatening and toxic.
- Look for the good things that your mate does. Some people search like detectives for things that their partners do wrong, perhaps because they want some ammunition for the next time they have an argument, but telling your partner what he or she is doing right may well prevent that imaginary issue from ever coming up.
- Don't blame, shame, or complain. It’s easy to point fingers and voice your disappointment, but before you do, consider a couple of things: First, ask yourself how what you are about to say will make your partner feel: Will it make things better? A more effective approach may be to tell your mate you’d really like it if he or she did some things in a different way, and offer some practical examples—in a nice way.
- Leave love notes. When I reach into my pocket and find a piece of paper that says “Love you,” it brightens my day, and I feel better about my life. Reminding your partner of your affection is powerful and can provide the lift he or she needs to get through another day at the office or of taking care of the family.
- Cuddle often. Going to bed together, holding hands, and snuggling on the sofa are just a few of the ways you can physically connect, and all of these will help to deepen your emotional bond. If your partner wants to go to bed early, and you still want to stay up, lie down together until he or she falls asleep, then you can get back up and do whatever you wanted to do.
- Have dinner as a couple or family whenever possible. This is another of the best ways to help your kids become good adults, and it brings everyone closer. In addition, having a romantic dinner between just the two of you is also a must.
- Trust that you are with the right person. If you doubt that the person you are with is right for you, you will be unable to put your best energy into the relationship. Even if you’ve hit a rough patch, seeing and reminding yourself that you chose wisely will make resolving issues easier, and life as a couple more enjoyable.
There are plenty of other things you can do to strengthen your bond. You can start with these, but don’t try to do them all at once. Just start with one, and the others will become easier to add to your daily interactions.