Building a strong relationship takes time, commitment, and willingness on the part of both parties to work for it. While every relationship is different, here are some basic ways you can improve your relationship.
When it comes to how to build a strong relationship and make it more resilient, there are hundreds of things you can do. But since you probably don’t have that much time (who does?), this article focuses on two important points: time and attention.
Even if they sound obvious, they are often ignored. That’s because it can be difficult to free up time or pay attention to more than one thing. But what you make time for is often what thrives.
Let’s look at those factors — and a few things you can do together to provide hands-on practice for prioritizing.
Take time for your relationship
With all the laundry and emails to answer, it’s easy to forget our relationship. Many of us see time in our relationships as a luxury, not a given. But if this attitude persists year in, and year out and you don’t do anything to actively make time for yourself, you risk growing apart.
It’s about shifting priorities. It’s easier for some, harder for others.
Regardless of how the thought of prioritizing your relationship makes you feel, try to challenge yourself. If you feel like it’s taking a lot of effort, think about why.
Maybe you’re worried that the house will fall apart if you can’t get a handle on the laundry. Or you might think that your kids will miss after-school activities when you spend time with your relationship.
Regardless of why it feels tiring, you can free yourself from trying. Remember, just because you change your priorities for a few weeks (or just a week!) doesn’t mean it has to stay that way forever. But part of building a strong relationship is trying new ways to keep your relationship alive.
And the thing is, when you put your relationship first from time to time, you build a relationship buffer together that can come in handy when things get tough. For example, when one of you gets sick, has way too much to do, or when a close family member dies.
What you do today does not only affect today. It also affects tomorrow and all the years to come.
What you can do if you are short on time:
1. Instead of vacuuming the house, take some time to talk.
A quarter of an hour here and there to talk about non-practical things can do wonders. Focus on an emotional topic or something close to your heart.
2. If you’re sitting on the sofa watching Netflix – don’t sit too far apart!
Hold hands or lean against each other. This is a fairly simple strategy that you can use in other situations as well, e.g. B. when you have a cup of coffee together.
3. Look them in the eye
Instead of multitasking — like scrolling your phone or replying to a text message — when your partner is telling you about their day — look them in the eye. This is how you perceive him and his feelings and promote the connection. And that is one of the best ways to build a strong relationship — through your partner’s validation.
Couples who look each other in the eye and give each other their full attention are usually happier in a relationship.
To paraphrase political activist Simone Weil, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” Watch what happens when you do these hands-on exercises over time.
What you can do when you have more time:
1. Instead of turning off three episodes on Netflix – celebrate something together!
I think we celebrate far too seldom in life. But to be honest, my opinion doesn’t matter here. What matters, however, is the fact that research shows that celebration is important to make your relationship last.
And celebrating doesn’t have to be a big deal. It is enough if the person who has good news to deliver is found by his partner with joy and enthusiasm. Crack open a bottle of wine, make some tea – or just share some sweets.
2nd Date Night – a real classic!
Make an appointment just for the two of you so you can do something together. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Maybe you can cook dinner together. Research has shown that planning and doing activities together strengthens relationships and leads to happier relationships over time.
3. Take turns surprising each other with a planned activity.
Again, it doesn’t have to be amazing. It’s enough if you mash the potatoes exactly how your partner likes them or if you put on your partner’s favorite music. These are small gestures that show the other person that you know them and that you care about them. This is very good for your relationship!
Get better at validating your partner
Researchers Julie and John Gottman have been researching relationships for more than 40 years. Among other things, you’ve explored how to build strong relationships by understanding why certain relationships last and others don’t.
Of course, it is not desirable in every situation for our relationship to last forever. And the older we get, the more difficult the ideal of lifelong monogamy becomes. One reason is that we are meant to be together longer now than we were 100 years ago, simply because we are living longer.
From this perspective, the challenge becomes even greater. However, assuming that whoever we are with right now is whoever we would like to stay with, an important tenet derived from Gottman’s research is showing your partner validation.
It may sound ridiculously simple, but for many of us, it’s surprisingly difficult to live up to in everyday life.
What validation is
Validation isn’t just about listening to your partner, it’s also about paying attention to every attempt your partner makes to communicate.
Couples that are good at this response to the other person asking for attention, e.g. B. when she sighs, laughs at something she’s reading – or when she tries to make physical contact.
Not noticing the other person’s attempt to communicate does not mean we are “bad” partners or evil at heart. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of not seeing or hearing your partner. But if you find that you’re not responding to your partner’s attempts — or they’re not responding to yours — it’s important to correct that if you’re interested in building a strong relationship.
Think back to a time when the other person was courting your attention. How did you react to that? When your partner sighs while doing the dishes, do you ask if he or she is okay? Or are you not saying anything?
When your partner laughs while scrolling their phone, are you showing that you’re curious about what’s so funny about it? Or do you just get on with your own thing? The trick is to face your partner, not be away from them.
How to build a strong relationship
Building a strong relationship isn’t rocket science — but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Life is hard and even the things that are most important to us, like our partner, can get lost in the rush.
If you want to make improvements, focus on both short-term and long-term goals, such as making time for each other and being mindful of your attempts at communication. You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes!