I’m no marriage expert. Far from it actually. But, what I lack in credentials, I’ve gained in experience. I’ve been with my husband for four years and we’ll have been married for two of them in December — no longer newlyweds, but not at the point where we have it all figured out (If anyone ever really reaches that point.) During this time, I’ve realized that as amazing as relationships are, they aren’t all fun and games. In fact, they require a lot of hard work and there are certain things besides sex that every relationship needs to thrive.
Many people can easily identify why past relationships have failed — infidelity, dishonesty, you just didn’t “click.” The list goes on. There are many factors that play into a successful relationship, from good conversation to great sex. But believe it or not, bedroom compatibility isn’t the most important component. Although sex is certainly important (and necessary!) for a thriving relationship there are other key factors that have to come together to make a relationship successful. And when they do, everything gets better — even your sex life.
Maybe you’re coming out of a hard break-up, single and ready to mingle, or in a committed relationship just looking to brush up your skills. Whatever the case, anyone can benefit from these tips to ensure your next (or current) relationship will be one that thrives.
Before a healthy physical relationship can be formed, there has to be trust. Some people trust the minute they meet someone, while others require a little more time. Whatever the case, it is vital to trust your partner to be truly happy together. “Trust is about so much more than catching your partner in a truth or lie,” Tracy Clifford, author of Love We Can Be Sure Of, told the Huffington Post. “It is about believing that he or she truly has your best interests at heart.” She also calls trust an act of courage, as it is oftentimes more of a choice than a feeling. Trust may not always come easily, but learning how to trust your partner is a true game changer.
In a romantic relationship, it’s easy to sweep issues under the rug and ignore them till they go away (or, more likely, resurface in the form of a full on battle.) But that habit does more harm than good. You can’t read each other’s minds, and when you’re not open with how you feel it makes room for error and arguments that could have been prevented,
Verbal communication isn’t necessarily the only way to communicate with your partners. In a study by Texas Tech University, researchers found that increased use in nonverbal behaviors significantly increased relationship satisfaction. Things like facial expressions, tone of voice, and physical gestures are all additional ways to communicate how you feel.
Being affectionate with your spouse — and no, sex doesn’t count — makes your partner feel feel adored and special. Affection isn’t always physical, though, and everyone shows it differently. There are many different ways people give and receive affection, from an act of service to some affirmative words. Determining which way you and your partner best show affection will help you both feel more valued. Similarly, withholding affection from your SO is bound to make things go downhill. Trying to “play it cool” in an effort to appear less clingy or needy, will most likely backfire, pushing him/her farther away.
Though it isn’t always easy, it’s important that you try to forgive your partner for their mistakes. In fact, your relationship may depend on it. According to a study from the National Institutes of Health, the ability to forgive may be one of the most important factors in maintaining healthy romantic relationships. Learning to forgive will free you from the pain of holding grudges and free your partner from the guilt of past mistakes, leaving you both happier in the long run.
5. Time Together
As a mom of two girls under two, my chances of getting time alone with my husband are about the same as winning the lottery. Whether it’s a family obligation, a demanding career, or something else, there are a lot of things keeping you busy and away from your partner. Scheduling time alone with your partner allows you to focus on each other for once and deepens your connection.
A relationship that’s all work and no play, so to speak, will not make it very far. If you think back to what drew you to each other in the first place, chances are it had a lot to do with being able to have fun together.
When you feel comfortable being yourself around someone, everything else flows so much easier. Putting up a front with your significant other will distance the two of you but being authentic creates a space of safety and trust. When you feel free to be yourself with someone, all your quirks, flaws and strengths will make you even more connected.