Long-term relationships take work; even the best ones aren't perfect all the time. There are many little things that you and your partner can do independently and together in order to make your relationship stronger. There are even some unexpected habits that radically improve your relationship that you can do every day, things that are even simpler than weekly date nights or other, more "event"-like occurrences. Sometimes the littlest, seemingly most insignificant things can have the biggest impact, and when it comes to your relationship, not everything has to be a sweeping grand gesture. From spending time with them to showing your appreciation to showing your affection, the things you do each and every day can have as much — if not more of — an impact on your relationship. Improving it doesn't have to require huge changes that happen all at once. That's often not all that sustainable.
The changes you make to help improve your relationship do need to be conscious though. You have to make an effort. Yet just by cultivating some of these small, surprising habits, you could dramatically improve the relationship between you and your partner. Above all, in order to work on your relationship with your partner and make it better, you have to make spending time with them a priority. These habits can help transform your relationship, but you still have to carve out time to be together. That's what'll help the most.
Sure, you might think that you already do this, at least, most days, but how often do you really think how much you appreciate them, or anyone else in your life for that matter? In a piece that she penned for Psychology Today, Dr. Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., wrote, "At one point, you were very enamored with all of their good qualities. That’s because you were focused on them, and because your focus was on everything that was great, you didn’t really notice the things that irritate you now." If you spend time each day appreciating all of your partner's good qualities, you'll spend more time focusing on them, meaning that, over time, they'll be at the top of your mind more often. That can make your relationship happier and stronger.
In a piece that he wrote for Psychology Today, Dr. Mark Goulston, M.D., said that focusing more on the good things that your partner does than the bad things they do can help the two of you be happier. If you remind yourself of the good things, you'll be more positive about your relationship in general, while if you focus on the bad, negative things are all you'll see. It's the same idea as focusing on their good qualities.
It can be difficult to power down technology in this fast-paced, busy world, but taking some time to spend with your partner — without the TV blaring or you scrolling through emails or social media posts — can make your relationship stronger. You also don't want to mostly text or email your partner to communicate with them. In an interview with Health, Dr. Gail Saltz, M.D., the magazine's contributing psychology editor, said that texting "is a way of creating distance." Though flirty messages can be fun, taking time together without technology to separate you can improve your relationship and how you communicate.
While you may have been generous with the compliments earlier in your relationship, as time has gone on, you might not compliment them nearly as often. Melissa Chapman, the founder of a sex and relationship blog, told Women's Health that she tells her husband everyday how handsome she thinks he is. It might seem like you're just giving them an ego boost, but genuine compliments are worth an awful lot.
Everyday Health reported that a VoucherCloud survey found that 85 percent of couples who go to the gym together said that their relationship had improved because they work out together and just generally spend that time together. Not only that, but if your partner acts as your accountability partner in addition to your romantic partner, you might get up and get out the door to head to the gym far more often.
You might think that you absolutely always do something nice for your partner each day, without even spending much time thinking about it, but making the effort to ensure that you do can help improve your relationship and make a huge difference. In the previously-mentioned article from Health, Dr. Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., a marriage researcher and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great, said that in her research, she's found that doing regular nice things for your partner can predict how happy and successful your relationship is. Those things make your partner feel good and also can help make them feel like really matter.
A 2007 study from University of Pittsburgh and UCLA researchers found that poor sleep quality can be linked to higher incidences of conflict in some marriages. Getting enough sleep each night helps you operate at your best, not just at checking off tasks on your To Do list, but interpersonally as well.
As an added bonus, going to sleep at the same time as your partner can mean that you get to spend some time together during the day, even if the rest of your day is spent apart, as Dr. Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., author of The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time, told Health in the aforementioned article. If you're both busy, prioritizing at least a little bit of time when you can be together can make your relationship stronger. It seems simple, but it can make a big difference.
There's a fine line when it comes to PDA (or public displays of affection), but if you and your partner have a strict no PDA rule, you might want to reconsider. In an interview with HuffPost, Aaron Anderson, a marriage and family therapist, said, "The happiest couples aren’t afraid to show affection to each other – even in public."
Orbuch told Health in the previously-mentioned article that since people change over the course of their relationship, asking them questions about themselves, beyond work, friends, family members, and kids can help you continually learn new things about them. That alone can make your relationship stronger.
In a 2000 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that participating in new and "exciting" activities together can make their relationship stronger and happier. Take a dance class, a cooking class, go scuba diving, or just try a new dinner spot. It just might improve your relationship.
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