We’ve all heard that a relationship “takes work,” but what does that mean exactly?
Frankly, it sounds like drudgery. Who wants to spend hours at an office only to come home to job number two? Wouldn’t it be more pleasant to think of your relationship as a source of comfort, fun, and pleasure?
Of course, it would. Here are some basic fixes if things feel stagnant, if the good times are becoming few and far between, if arguing is your main form of communication, or if you need a tune-up.
How to keep a relationship strong and happy doesn’t need to be a long, winding, complex process.
21 ways to keep your relationship strong and happy
Your hopes. Your fears. Your passions. Let your partner know who you truly are. Set aside time each day to talk about the important things to each of you as individuals. This is one of the most crucial things to make your relationship stronger.
One of the best strong relationship tips is that you need to treat your partner like a good and trusted friend: with respect, consideration, and kindness. It will go a long way in fostering a strong relationship.
5. Resolve arguments together
When couples fight, it’s too easy to get locked into a win/lose dynamic. Think of your disagreement as a problem for you both to solve, not a fight for you to win. Think of saying “we” before giving in to the temptation of casting blame on the other person.
What do you treasure about your life together? Focus on positivity to make the relationship strong. The more positivity you manifest in your relationship, the happier it gets.
8. Don’t be negative
Nothing kills a buzz like a negative or absent response to something you’re enthusiastic about. One of the essential tips to keep your relationship strong is that you need to become your partner’s support system.
9. Words plus deeds
Saying “I love you” carries much more weight when you consistently do things your partner values. Saying “I love you” is one of the most crucial things to do to make your relationship stronger.
10. Recognize that all relationships have ups and downs
Think long-term. Your relationship is an investment, like the stock market. Ride out the downtimes. With the right kind of attention, they will be temporary.
It is tempting to use whatever ammunition you’ve got in the heat of battle. Ask yourself, where will it get you? A partner who will likely come to your side, or one who will get even more defensive? Ask your partner how they see the problem. Have each other’s back. Let that be known. That’s how you keep a relationship strong and happy.
12. Set goals as a couple
Talk about how you want your relationship to look in a year, five years, or ten years. Then work towards that goal. It would help if you kept adding goals with time; those achievements will strengthen your relationship.
13. Make your partner a priority
That is why you’re in this relationship in the first place.
This is how to keep a relationship strong and happy. Relationships, against what is commonly believed, are not as challenging to maintain as they are said to be. Inculcating some habits and behaviors in your daily life is sufficient to keep your relationship strong, healthy, and happy.
Because most of us have been hurt, mistreated, mishandled, had bad relationships, or experienced how cruel the world can be at times, our trust does not come easy or cheap.
There must be some degree of trust in all relationships for them to grow healthy and work.
Support can come in many forms and is too comprehensive to get into a complete discussion here, but there is emotional, physical, mental, spiritual, financial, etc.
A healthy relationship produces a warm and supportive environment where we can refresh ourselves and find the strength to continue daily.
16. Be Honest
Growing up as kids, we used to say, “honesty is the best policy,” but as adults, we’ve all learned to hide the truth. Whether it’s to save face, increase profit margins, excel in careers, or avoid confrontations, we’ve all lost some if not all of the honesty we had as kids.
There is a segment in the movie “A Few Good Men” where Jack Nicholas’ character, while on trial, says, “Truth, you can’t handle the truth.”
Sometimes we all feel the other person we’re being honest with can’t deal with what has happened. So, we often remain silent until they find out later, and the consequences have gotten worse.
One of the components of a healthy relationship is integrity or honesty. There must be a certain level of honesty, without which a relationship is dysfunctional.
17. A sense of fairness
Some couples reach home at the same time every evening
Both are tired, hungry, somewhat irritated from the day’s situations, and desire a hot meal and warm bed.
Now, whose responsibility is it to prepare dinner and do the chores around the house?
Some men would probably say, “it’s her responsibility, she’s the woman, and a woman should take care of the home!” Some women would probably say, “it’s your responsibility, you’re the man, and a man should take care of his wife!”
Let’s be fair. You both should help each other.
Why? If you seriously want to know how to keep a relationship strong, happy, and healthy, you both have to put effort into it.
We could choose to be fair in matters related to the relationship and have a growing healthy one or be unfair and end up alone.
18. Separate identities
How could separating your identities possibly help create a relationship strong and happy?
What we often do in relationships is try so hard to match our identities to the person we’re with that we lose track of ourselves. This makes us heavily dependent upon them for everything from emotional support down to mental help.
This puts a tremendous strain on the relationship and drains the life out of the other partner by absorbing their emotions, time, etc. When we do this, we become so dependent upon them that if we’re not careful, we trap ourselves in these relationships and can’t move on even if it’s not working.
We’re all different in many respects, and our differences are what make each unique.
19. Good communication
It’s funny how we bounce words off each other’s eardrums and refer to it as communication. Communication refers to listening, understanding, and responding.
Amazingly, different words mean different things to different people. You could tell your partner something and mean one thing while hearing and understanding something different.
True communication in any relationship involves one person addressing a particular issue. At the same time, the other party listens until the first party has finished. The second party restates what was heard for clarification and understanding before responding to that particular issue.
20. Honor each other’s strengths/weaknesses
Marriage is successful when you can work as a unified team. You can’t expect your partner to be all of the things. One of the important tips on how to keep a relationship strong and happy is that we should never try to change our partner or expect them to become someone else.
Instead, to define our healthy relationship, we need to name our strengths and weaknesses. We need to look at where we can fill the gaps for each other.
21. Expect less
Expectations cause disappointment and are born of “Shoulds.” Relationships have no “shoulds” other than respect, honesty, and kindness. So, if you think your partner should take out the garbage, clean their sock drawer or tell you what a great cook you are, you are setting yourself up for some disappointment.
A happy relationship is a two-way street. It’s a shared effort and combined approach that are keys to being happy in the union.
It is important to understand how a relationship evolves with time. Therefore, every happy relationship should start with a strong foundation, understanding, and communication.
The tips mentioned above on how to keep a relationship strong and happy will help you maintain a thriving relationship.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Marcie Scranton is an LMFT who specializes in relationship conflicts, major life transitions, depression, anxiety, and issues arising from recovery. In addition, she is trained in Trauma-Focused CBT, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Her approach is results-oriented and incorporates modalities based on Attachment, Existentialist Theory, Object Relations, and Family Systems.