The difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one boils down to the values. The values you look for in a life partner will indicate how the relationship works out. If you value respect, you’ll leave the relationship when it’s no longer around. However, we often choose life partners based on superficial qualities that don’t hold any merit when it comes to compatibility, such as education level, height, eye color, or physical appearance. In this article, we’re going to share tips on what makes a good relationship that lasts.
15 Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship That Lasts
1. Choose the right values
If you want to build a good relationship, you’ll need to choose the values you believe in most. For example, instead of wanting someone with a university or college degree, choose the value you’re actually looking for, such as ambition, intelligence, growth, self-reliance, curiosity, and so on. The reality is there could be someone who dropped out of high school but has built a successful brand who models curiosity and ambition, which might actually be aligned with what you’re looking for in a partner. So, choose a partner based on the values they live by, instead of what they’ve done or haven’t done or other superficial characteristics.
When deciding on values, look at past relationships as an indicator of what you actually want. For example, if you were cheated on previously, trust and respect might be values you want to add to your list of what you expect from your partner. If you in an abusive relationship, affection, reflection, security, and empathy might be qualities you look for in a partner. Alternatively, if you end up feeling like a parent in a relationship taking on most of the household tasks, responsibility might be a value you look for. Seeing relationships through the lens of values can help ensure you pick the right partner. Make a list of 3-5 values.
2. Align on the same page
After knowing the values you and your partner prioritize in your relationship, it’s time to ensure you align on the same page. If you and your partner aren’t a good match, it’s best to end things so that you can both find the right person. In a healthy relationship, there will be times you’ll need to compromise. You shouldn’t have to change who you are to make the relationship work. Helping around the house isn’t changing who you are. However, if you feel uncomfortable being touched and your partner loves cuddling, affection is a value for your partner. It might indicate that they aren’t the right person for you. Ensure you find someone you’re compatible with. There’s a study by Gunter Sachs and a similar study by Castille that found most people are statistically most likely to marry their own zodiac sign, with a few exceptions. People tend to prefer people who are similar to them, opposites don’t actually attract, despite how the saying goes.
3. Support each other during life challenges
In a healthy relationship, support should always be prioritized. You’ll have many life challenges throughout your relationship, especially if it lasts a long time. Layoffs, mental and physical sickness, work stress, family or friend conflict, loss, failure, setbacks, debt, and more can add tension to a relationship, even a good relationship. Despite the challenges the two of you face, you’ll want to help by offering encouragement, support, and love despite it all. It can be hard to know what kind of support to offer during specific situations, so ask directly. Losing a job and losing a parent will trigger different reactions in people and will require different types of care and support. There’s no one size fits all solution to the struggles you’ll face. Try to keep the home environment as positive and loving as you can despite the struggles you or your partner face. That doesn’t mean hiding your emotions, though. If you’re sad, it’s okay to express sadness. Where possible, ask if the person would prefer comfort or solutions when asking about their needs. Most people tend to offer solutions when someone really just wants to be heard.
4. Express physical intimacy
When it comes to sex or any type of physical intimacy, trust needs to be at the foundation. Even if you’ve been with someone for years, asking for consent should still be prioritized. It might not seem like a sexy thing to do, but a romantic relationship still needs respect at its core. Having sex regularly is a sign of a healthy relationship. But don’t worry too much is your sex life goes through ruts or challenges. Performance anxiety from baby-making is a common stressor in even a strong relationship. So, even if you’ve been together a long time, there will be periods where your sex life is less active than usual. Instead of assigning blame during a rut, try to communicate with your partner to determine what’s causing the changes in physical intimacy, so that you can have a lasting relationship that works for both of you.
5. Showcase love in all five languages
Healthy relationships don’t only express love in the one language their partner prefers, but in all of them. The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch. It’s a combination of these that create a lasting relationship. After all, if your partner never said, “I love you” but showered you with gifts, you might think they’re bribing you after the excitement wears off. Or if your partner always says, “I love you” but doesn’t help with the dishes you might think their words are louder than their actions. That’s why you might double down on the love language they prefer, but you still need to show it across multiple ways. Tell your partner you love them every night when you go to sleep. Spend quality time together at least once a week. Cuddle in bed with them every night. Help them around the home several times throughout the week. And surprise them with gifts once every month or two.
6. Go on a date night once a month
Romantic relationships can lose their spark with time. Investing in the health of your relationships is crucial for long-term success. Going on a date night once a month can be a great way to maintain a good relationship. You don’t need to spend money on a fancy dinner, there are plenty of free date activities. Plus, if you have kids at home, you can host a date night in after they’ve gone to sleep. Whether it’s watching a movie at home, playing a board game, dinner with wine, couple’s massage, or any other bonding activity, there are plenty of things you can do to enjoy quality time together and become the definition of relationship goals.
7. Have open communication
One of the warning signs that a relationship is going south is a lack of communication. If you feel uneasy in your relationship, it’s often because there’s a lack of communication and something big isn’t being addressed. It’s not just a matter of asking the right questions, you also need to create the right environment to calmly answer the questions. Most of us don’t want to hurt the people we love, so we bottle up our emotions instead of expressing them. However, if we create a positive and loving environment where we can be honest and frank about difficult topics, it can make a big difference in whether or not the message lands to avoid conflict. A resolution can only be made if both people are willing to be honest and supportive of each other. Good communication depends on it.
8. Showcase kindness in all interactions
In healthy relationships, kindness is shown daily. How much better would your relationship be if you both looked for opportunities throughout the day to be kind to each other. If you spent the day looking for ways to praise your partner, help them at home, make the other person feel valued, thought about them before making their own decisions, looked to surprise each other with a nice gesture, and spent your time together laughing and talking. There are so many acts of kindness and good deeds you can do for your spouse to make them feel special. Different people will value different acts of kindness. But something like making a cup of coffee for them in the morning or massaging their feet at night can be a simple way to show you care.
9. Spend time together alone
Every relationship is different. However, a healthy relationship will typically have a high amount of time spent together and alone. Of course, if you have children that doesn’t mean ditching them at grandma’s house all the time. But making time for each other will be helpful to your relationship’s success. It’s easier to go through tough times together when you’re always communicating your feelings, supporting each other, and have a strong relationship. The relationship fizzles when less time is spent with each other. You should prioritize your partner over everyone, including your children. Having a strong relationship showcases to your children what a loving relationship looks like, so that when it’s their turn to be in a relationship once they’re in their 20s, they know what a good relationship should be like. The second your partner gets put on the back-burner, the more challenging it becomes to fix problems that would normally be resolved quickly. Communication, respect, and time together are the ingredients of a healthy relationship.
10. Avoid oversharing details of your relationship
Now more than ever before, people share screenshots of private messages with others. While it’s common to ask for advice when you’re going through challenges in your relationship, it’s disrespectful to share private messages with others. In a committed relationship, there should only be two people. However, when you send private messages with friends and family, suddenly everyone has an opinion of the relationship and it’s one-sided. The fastest way to destroy a relationship is to share your hardships with others. There’s a difference between my husband is threatening to harm me and my husband is mad that I didn’t tell him we got our property taxes in the mail and missed a payment. The second you tell anyone about any conflict, even a small one, they’ll drive a wedge in your relationship. Even long after the fight has been resolved. It’s hard to look at someone the same way once you’ve seen them in an angry state. So, unless you’re in an abusive relationship and need to get out, you shouldn’t give people an inside look at your marriage.
11. Learn how your partner lives life
Most people would call this section accept your partner as they are. However, you should also carefully examine how they operate so that you can maintain peace and love in your relationship. For example, if you notice your partner is an introvert, how you treat them in the relationship will make a difference beyond just the words they tell you. For example, if after work, they rarely speak to you, this is a sign that they need time to recharge their batteries. Once they’ve had an hour or two alone, they’ll be ready to find out how your day was, enjoy a nice evening with you, and talk things out. However, if you always try to force communication after work, you’ll notice resistance, frustration, and conflict arise. It’s not just about accepting your partner as they are, it’s also about understanding how to interact with them due to their personality differences. A relationship based in understanding your partner, almost the way a biographer would understand every detail of someone’s lives, is crucial in healthy relationships.
12. Resolve conflict
Yelling is often considered a relationship red-flag. It’s a sign that someone doesn’t have their emotions under control. It’s normal to become upset when things are bothering you. However, even the most painful events can be resolved peacefully and calmly. Reacting with rage often fails to drive the point home and causes the other person to think “you’re crazy” even when you’re not. When you want to get your point across and you’re feeling angry, speak slowly. It will ensure you make an impact with the words you say so they land.
13. Show appreciation
In healthy relationships, it’s common to show appreciation regularly. It’s not a nice-to-have sort of thing, it’s a necessity. When your partner takes out the trash in the morning, thank them. When you discover dinner has just been made and it’s your favorite, tell them how grateful you are to have them in your life. Being vocal with praise helps maintain so much positivity in your romantic relationship. After all, it takes five positive interactions for every one negative interaction to keep a relationship healthy. And those who have far more positive interactions will only be better able to keep things running smoothly at home.
14. Make an effort to show affection
Those who’ve grown up in environments where affection isn’t shown often struggle with this aspect of a healthy relationship. It may even make them feel uncomfortable to express affection at first. However, with the right safety nets, person, and some practice, they’ll eventually love having affection shown. Affection can include things like holding hands, kissing on the forehead, cuddling, hugging, massaging someone’s back, patting someone’s back, active listening, and offering empathy for support. They’re typically non-sexual acts but still maintain a level of intimacy, which makes the relationship healthy.
15. Try couples counseling
Most people only consider couples counseling if something is wrong in the relationship. However, romantic relationships sometimes need some tweaks or third-party unbiased opinions to strengthen the relationship. If someone only communicates frustration in digital communication instead of in-person, the tone might not come across well which can lead to tension at home due to a lack of in-person confrontation. Alternatively, if one partner stone walls when angry, it can be hard to break through. Even good relationships can benefit from couples therapy. You need to talk out your hopes, dreams, and challenges to ensure that you have a lasting love. Without expressing your feelings, you’ll never open yourself up to realizing that maybe your partner really does understand you better than you think.
A healthy relationship can be built. But remember, both people need to contribute to the health of the relationship. You can’t provide respect, affection, and love while the other person talks down to you and makes you feel insecure. Healthy relationships are two-sided, not one. You can drastically improve your relationship by expressing love in all five languages, being vocal with praise, showing kindness and affection, and many of the other things we talked about in this article. So, if you’re looking to build a great relationship that lasts, truly consider what you value and bring the best out of yourself and your partner.