Speak up. Don’t expect your partner to be able to read your mind or “figure it out.” If you have a need or want to express something, you need to communicate it yourself. It’s not fair to you or your partner when you don’t communicate your needs. Likewise, don’t hold in the things that bother you. If something is bothering you, say something to your partner.
Listen intently. Part of a healthy relationship is knowing when to talk and when to listen. Develop your listening skills by not interrupting and letting your partner finish their thoughts and feelings. Truly listen, and don’t try to come up with a response while your partner is talking.
Create healthy boundaries. Boundaries are not meant to make you feel trapped; they are created to maintain respect and understand expectations in the relationship. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, bring it up and discuss how things need to change and how each of you will make changes. If one person wants to spend lots of time together and the other does not, it’s important to set a boundary of how much time is appropriate together and apart.
Communicate clearly. Without clear communication, a relationship can quickly bring out the worst in people. When you have a want or a need, express it to your partner clearly. Don’t beat around the bush or say something you think will please your partner when it makes you unhappy. Try using “I statements” to express your feelings, make an observation, or share your opinion. I statements allow you to express yourself clearly and directly and take responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings while avoiding blame and accusations toward others.
Express emotions. Share your thoughts and feelings with your partner and stay open to the feelings that arise. Show interest in your partner’s feelings and support them during stressful situations. Connecting emotionally with your partner allows you to empathize with their experience.
Check in with each other. Make time periodically to discuss the relationship. Sometimes changes occur or schedules become busy and you may miss time to connect or talk about things. You may want to bring up relationship goals and expectations, as these can sometimes change. Ignoring difficult topics or hoping they will go away is one way for a relationship to crumble.
Treating Each Other Well
Create a foundation of respect. Relationships can be fun and exciting early on, yet it important to make sure that you and your partner are rooted in respect. Act in ways that demand respect from your partner. Strive to treat each other with respect at all times, even when you are mad at each other.
Your partner’s wishes, thoughts, and feelings have value. Communicate to your partner that you consider the way they feel. Mutual respect is an important part of making a healthy relationship work.
Talk to your partner about creating respect in your relationship. Decide “do’s” and “don’ts,” such as name calling or sexual touch.
You may wish to implement “fair fighting” rules. They are as follows:
No degrading language
No use of force
No talk of divorce/breaking up
Don’t try to tell your partner what they are thinking/experiencing/feeling
Stay in the present
Take turns speaking
Use time outs with necessary
Spend quality time together. It’s easy to transition from face-to-face time together to digital communication. Yet, sometimes meanings can get lost in translation or non-verbal communication becomes non-existent. Spending quality time together can help strengthen your relationship and increase the bond you and your partner feel together.
Give each other space. No one person can fulfill everything and every role for another person. Let your partner have time with friends and family and engage in hobbies. It’s important for each person to have their own friends and activities that are enjoyed on their own. While you may want to spend every moment together during the beginning of the relationship, respect each other enough to spend time apart and know that time spent apart doesn’t mean anything negative for the relationship. Support your partner in maintaining friendships.
Expect changes. Know that your relationship will likely change. Allow growth for yourself, your partner, and for the relationship itself. Recognize that changes in your relationship are opportunities for new growth. Change is inevitable, so welcome changes and accept that the relationship will adapt.
When changes happen, take a deep breath and deal with them one by one.