Fostering healthy, happy and strong relationships are an incredibly important part of our personal self care. In marriage and committed relationships this can be tricky. Having a strong relationship requires love and intentional commitment.
It’s no secret that being in a committed relationship is a lot of work, but it shouldn’t feel like work all the time. This post maps out 11 different ways that you can nurture a happy, healthy relationship that will stay strong and withstand the test of time with your significant other.
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Why Should You Care What I Have To Say?
I am so blessed to have been in an amazing marriage for almost 30 years now! I married the love of my life and my high school sweetheart, just out of high school. Now, would I recommend others start off that way? The quick answer is, no. We had a lot of growing pains because we started off together so young.
That being said, we learned a lot of valuable lessons and raised two amazing kids. We are closer than we have ever been and are more in love today than ever before.
We’ve come a long way. Between the two of us we have had successful careers, continue to support one another to always follow our dreams and we are so proud of the kids we raised.
The best part is, we like each other! Being in a position where you WANT to spend time with your spouse or significant other after 30 years feels amazing. So the information that I’m sharing with you is that of experience. We’ve even experienced empty nest life together.
The tips provided below continue to help us foster a happy, healthy and strong relationship that has withstood some serious struggles. My hope is, these will give you some ideas for your own marriage or committed relationship.
Tips To Foster a Healthy, Happy & Strong Relationship
These tips are things you can start to do today! Make your marriage a priority by focusing on having a healthy relationship that will withstand the test of time. After all marriages and committed relationships are a lot of work!
Make your work count and build a long-lasting, strong relationship in the process.
TIP #1 – Know Your Partner’s Love Language
If you haven’t read it yet, a great book and probably the best I can recommend for anyone in a relationship is written by Dr Gary Chapman.
He walks through five different love languages. I’ve put a link here for you to check out.
It’s really important for couples to understand each other’s love languages, so that you can better understand how they’re sending their love to you.
The disconnect is typically based on how they like to receive love. I won’t dig too deep into it, but definitely go check out this book. It’s a must read for anyone in a committed relationship.
Since we participated in a book study on this book, years ago, there have been more versions released. There are even versions for friendships and family relationships.
It was a game changer for us and so many couples we know and care about.
Definitely check out 5 Love Languages for a strong relationship that has healthy roots.
TIP #2 – Find Shared Interests
It’s important to find things that each of you likes to do and for the other one to care enough to engage in it as well.
That might mean going on a hike together or going for a simple walk.
It could even mean catching a movie or a play. Maybe it’s just a game night where you both get to play games that you enjoy.
It doesn’t have to be anything expensive.
The point here is it’s really important to find things that you are making an attempt to be interested in, because they are interested in it.
This is critical to a happy, healthy and strong relationship that is long-lasting.
Finding shared interests is one of the most important things that you can do in a relationship.
TIP #3 – Nurture Friendships Outside of Your Marriage or Partner
It’s really important to make sure that you are taking the time to have relationships with people outside of your significant other.
If you don’t you run dangerously close to lifting your spouse up a little too high.
If you rely on them holistically for your social interaction and emotional needs they are unlikely to be able to meet your needs or expectations.
Having happy healthy relationships outside of your spouse or partner are just as important as the one you have with them.
Now, you probably won’t be spending as much time with them as you do your significant other but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be finding ways to make those relationships just as special.
Social Self Care is very real and will cause you and all of your relationships heartache if you aren’t careful. Read about Social Self Care here.
Schedule time to:
- Call an old friend and catch up
- Talk to someone you trust & shares your values
- Meet a friend for coffee
- Write a letter to a family member you haven’t talked to in a while
- Plan a girl’s weekend getaway or staycation
Whatever you do, nurture relationships outside of the one with your partner. You won’t be sorry. Not only will your relationship be healthier but you can rest knowing you are making healthy steps towards a strong relationship.
TIP #4 – Be An Active Listener
Having spent the majority of my career in business and in education leadership, this is something that was just ingrained in me. Not to mention the fact that I think it’s just part of who I am.
But, I know this doesn’t come easily to everyone. The good news is it’s an easy skill to learn.
When your partner or your spouse is talking, be sure to listen completely to what they’re saying and try your best not to have a filter of your own perspective on the conversation. Many times we go into discussions with the attitude of defense.
I can’t even tell you how many times my husband and I got into an argument in the early years of our marriage, only to discover that we were trying to make the same point.
Be an active listener by doing these things…
- Listen to what they are saying
- Hear ALL of the words
- Repeat what you heard
- (What you believe they mean)
- Let them finish their thought before responding
- All wait time to work through what they are trying to say
- Wait time can be awkward sometimes
- Be sure to let them know you want to give them a chance to share all of what they wanted to say if they ask why you’re waiting
- Wait time can be awkward sometimes
- Ask yourself if they are asking for a response or your understand/support
- Respond with love when you do respond
Active listening is an amazing skill to develop for healthy relationship building. The best part is it works in every relationship.
Strong relationships are built on active listening, kindness and being intentional about how you respond.
TIP #5 Have A Discussion, Not A Fight
Avoid the fight. Have a discussion. This one can be one of the hardest things to do in a relationship, any kind of relationship. Mastering this will build the foundation for a strong relationship.
Conflict is natural. It’s to be expected. The important thing is how you respond, how you participate, and how you plan to react.
Typically, fights happen because both or one of you is passionate about the topic.
It’s important to keep in mind that they are entitled to their opinion just as you are yours.
If you take that away from them. You may as well say that you don’t deserve to have your own too. No one wants to go there…
Having a conversation allows you to get to the heart of the issue and will lead to a solution far faster than getting into a heated argument. Arguments and fights are driven by emotions rather than intention.
TIP #6 – Forgiveness Is Critical
Let’s be real. You’re both human. You are going to make mistakes and you are going to do things that your partner doesn’t like.
That’s just human nature.
The most important thing you can do to build a happy, healthy and strong relationship is to be sure that you are focused on the heart of the situation.
Don’t be too proud to forgive. There are obviously some situations that you may not be able to forget.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t forgive them.
One way to look at choosing not to forgive is, by not forgiving them, you are giving far more power to the situation, person or whatever it is than is deserved.
You deserve to move on.
Building strong relationships isn’t easy but remember you are focused on what is best and right for you. Not only in that moment when you don’t want to forgive, but for your future.
If you are struggling with forgiveness, consider how you would want others to respond if you were on the opposite side of the situation.
TIP #7 – Compromise Is Rarely 50/50
Growing up I remember everyone saying relationships were a 50/50 partnership.
What a lie that was! Is that your goal? Yes, of course. But it’s rarely reality.
Very quickly, my husband and I both learned that through different seasons of our marriage, as we dealt with individual struggles, 50/50 was just not possible all the time.
One of us inevitably was giving a little more, and sometimes a lot more than the other.
Again, that’s normal, set some realistic expectations and understand that there are going to be times that you need to be giving most to the relationship.
Just know that there will be times when you will need that same level of commitment from your partner.
TIP #8 – Say What You Mean
This one is really hard for a lot of people. One of the things that I’ve learned very quickly is, you can’t get upset with your significant other about not understanding how you feel if you aren’t willing to tell them.
Here’s the deal. Say what you mean, mean what you say and be willing to tell your partner exactly how you’re feeling.
That doesn’t mean that you need to do it right at the moment (especially if you’re angry).
Oftentimes it’s best to wait a few minutes to think through how you can best convey what it is that you’re feeling. Strong relationship building is only possible when you are true to who you are.
TIP #9 – Don’t Stop Dating Your Partner
This one is so important. Through all the seasons of your relationship you have to prioritize time to date.
If you’re in a new part of your relationship and still in the honeymoon phase. Enjoy it!
The realities of life will happen. Great news though! You have a partner to spend time with and work through those challenges together.
Schedule time very intentionally to date your spouse. This is important not to forget if you have kids!
- Schedule date night on your calendar
- Plan lunch dates
- Make plans for a romantic dinner after the kids go to bed
- Visit a museum
- Go to a movie
- Plan a themed movie & dinner in
- Explore a small town near you
- Plan an overnight road trip
- Shop for dinner together at the Farmer’s Market
- Recreate your first date
- Try something new together
Number 10 – The Kids Cannot Divide
If you have children, you know that one of the main things that will be a source of arguments in your marriage are your children.
As much as you both love them you were both raised differently, and probably have different expectations about what parenting looks like.
It’s normal to have disagreements about parenting.
When dealing with kids, especially when they make mistakes, your relationship can be most vulnerable.
Tap into all the other tips, even more, as your children are in the more difficult stages of life. Teen years can be formidable but a strong relationship can withstand anything.
When all else fails try to start on your goal for the desired outcome and work backwards.
TIP #11 You’re On The Same Team
Finally, it’s important to remember, you’re on the same team.
Go into everything with the approach that you have the same outcome as a goal.
Do you want to grow old together?
Do you want to be that gray haired couple that’s walking holding hands in the grocery store or going on vacations together?
I mentioned earlier we are empty nesters now. I know that my husband and I are thoroughly enjoying our empty nest years.
While we were sad to see our children move out of the house we are thrilled that they were able to move out and live productive adult lives.
It’s amazing to watch them grow and go through new seasons of their lives themselves.
We are enjoying every bit of the time that we get together and have even learned to do some new things together that we hadn’t done before.
Intentionally Build A Happy, Healthy & Strong Relationship
Whatever you do, just remember, your relationship is an adventure. It’s continuously changing, it’s continuously growing.
Don’t let it become stale and stagnant.
Foster a nurturing relationship by following these tips.
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