It takes more than love for your relationship to work.
Although love is the foundation of any happy romantic relationship, love is not enough. In order to have a healthy relationship, both parties have to be willing to work on it. Below you’ll find 18 ways to keep your relationship strong.
1. Practice acceptance and appreciation. In his book, “How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving”, David Richo explains that two of the keys to mindful loving are acceptance and appreciation. Here’s a quote from Richo that expresses this idea: “In a true you-and-I relationship, we are present mindfully, non-intrusively, the way we are present with things in nature. We do not tell a birch tree it should be more like an elm. We face it with no agenda, only appreciation . . .”
2. Recognize that all relationships have their ups and downs. Just as you can’t expect to be happy all the time, you shouldn’t expect your relationship to be at a continuous high. When you make a long-term commitment to someone you have to be willing to ride the highs, as well as the lows, together.
3. Use the word “we”. Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., explains that researcher Robert Levenson and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, found that couples who use the word “we” when talking are happier, calmer, and in general are more satisfied with their relationships than couples whose communication is more populated by the pronouns “you”, “me” and “I”.
Dr. Chansky explains that the word “we” is a game changer. It sets off a program of connectedness in the brain so that instead of being in a “you vs. me” mindset, we’re in a collaborative mindset. This collaborative mindset makes us more loving and generous.
4. Follow the three-day gratitude plan. Rita Watson–an Associate Fellow at Yale’s Ezra Stiles College—explains that having an attitude of gratitude will revitalize your love life. Watson indicates that a study involving 77 married heterosexual and monogamous couples found that with expressed gratitude “participants reported that they felt more loving.” She goes on as follows:
“They also reported feeling more peaceful, amused, and proud. They perceived their partner as being more understanding, validating, caring, and generally more responsive. They were more likely to have reported spontaneously thanking their partner for something they’d appreciated on any given day. And they were more satisfied with the quality of their relationship overall.”
In order to get started with bringing more gratitude into your relationship she recommends the following three-day gratitude plan:
- Day 1: Find three qualities that you love about your partner and focus on those three qualities for the entire day.
- Day 2: Identify three things that irritate you about your partner. Now forgive them for these things.
- Day 3: For the entire day speak only kind words to your significant other.
Think of the three day plan as a cleansing which allows you to clear out feelings that keep your relationship from thriving.