strong relationship

9 pillars of a strong relationship

Maintaining a strong and healthy relationship is not the responsibility of one person; both partners need to be committed towards making their relationship thrive.
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It’s no secret that a relationship requires more than just love to stay strong and healthy. Love can give you a start but can’t always ensure lasting happiness. For that to happen, both partners need to make an effort to keep the spark alive and show the desire to be together. But it is easier said than done because, with time, responsibilities take over your life and your priorities start to change.

According to a YouGov study, The Science of Love Over Time, “If you still get butterflies in your tummy from a relationship more than a few years old, you are incredibly lucky.” The study further suggests that the longer you stay together as a couple, the less likely you are to say ‘I love you’ to each other. It isn’t just the words, the feeling itself simmers down greatly.

Wondering what to do in such a situation? Start by paying attention to your partner’s needs to feel understood, loved and respected. Yes, when you are occupied with your career, children, and finances, making time for your partner may not be on the top of your list. But if you keep ignoring them, it may affect your relationship in the long term.

Remember that maintaining a relationship is not the responsibility of one person; both partners need to be committed to working out their issues together. Let’s take a look at what you need to do consistently to make your relationship stronger.

Trust your partner

Trust is the cornerstone of every relationship. It is the building block upon which everything else rests. It is the faith that your partner will always be there for you, irrespective of the circumstances. A trustworthy partner has your best interest at heart. You will feel more secure since you can express yourself openly and honestly. You will be able to confide in them and feel safe. You will find freedom in the relationship since you can be truly yourself. If you have someone with whom you want to spend your life, start by building trust in your relationship.

Accept them as they are

To err is human. Expecting your partner to be perfect is not just unrealistic but also a sure-fire way to ruin your relationship. According to American novelist Anne Lamott, “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” So, accept your partner for who they are. That means accepting their flaws, thoughts and opinions, even if they are different from yours. If you can do that, you will be able to build a strong foundation for your relationship.

Support each other’s choices

“We must love in such a way that the other person feels free,” says Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, author, poet, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. You feel a sense of freedom when your partner supports the choices you make. It doesn’t matter if your choices don’t produce the desired results, you will learn from them and grow as a person. Colleen Hoover, author of the book, It Ends with Us says, “All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.” When you support your partner’s decisions, you take a big step towards building a healthy and strong relationship.

Maintain clear communication

Effective communication is essential for keeping a relationship healthy. Understanding your partner’s perspectives—how they view things and their likes and dislikes—helps you know your partner better. Knowing their inner world and having them understand yours is pivotal to establishing a harmonious connection. This clarity can only be achieved when you talk to each other clearly and openly. Couples who don’t communicate with each other can have issues such as misunderstanding, conflict, and mistrust. So, if you want to make your relationship stronger, maintain clear communication.

Respect one another

Respect is found in all healthy and strong relationships. It means accepting your partner’s thoughts and opinions even if you don’t agree with them. As Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life wrote in Psychology Today, “Love without respect is dangerous; it can crush the other person, sometimes literally.”

To show respect, listen attentively to your partner’s needs, desires and concerns. Appreciate them not only for what they do but also for who they are. Validate their emotions with encouraging words and support their choices. Having respect for each other helps in building trust, safety and wellbeing in a relationship.

Keep the friendship alive

According to a Monmouth University poll, most people want to be with someone who is like them—a person who will be their best friend. This way, you can connect with a partner on a deeper level and enjoy each other’s company for years. Also, when you and your partner are friends, you have no reason to feel self-conscious in the relationship. Moreover, as friends, the random laughing, singing, and dancing that goes down between the two of you makes the relationship even stronger.

Practice forgiveness

According to a study titled Forgiveness and Relationship Satisfaction: Mediating Mechanisms by Scott R Braithwaite, Edward A Selby, and Frank D Fincham, couples who practice forgiveness are more likely to enjoy a longer, more satisfying romantic relationship. Let’s face it, each one of us is flawed. If your partner has done something to upset you, forgiving them can be difficult. When you feel angry, disappointed, or betrayed, the idea of forgiving your partner can feel as if by letting go of your resentment, you are allowing them to get away with their mistake. But if you show the willingness to forgive them, it will help you avoid the petty conflicts that can hamper your relationship in the long run.

Share responsibilities

According to a 2007 Pew Research Center Poll, sharing household chores was in the top three highest-ranking items associated with a successful marriage, ahead of staples such as adequate income, good housing, common interest, and shared religious beliefs. Mutual understanding of shared responsibilities reduces the need for partners to evaluate and manage each other’s behaviours. It lets them know that personal boundaries will not be crossed. This even minimises the conflicts, as spouses are aware of the division of labour in the household.

Help each other grow

For a relationship to thrive, couples must adapt and learn from each other to grow as individuals together. Partners can support each other by taking interest in activities that they like. For example, if your spouse loves drawing and painting, you can try to learn that skill from them even if you have never picked up a brush before. Similarly, if you have a penchant for singing, you can try to involve your partner in your crooning sessions during leisure time. Support your partner’s endeavours and encourage them to keep going when they feel demotivated. This way, partners can inspire each other to become the best version of themselves.

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