On Valentine’s Day, many of us will send flowers or chocolates to show our love and appreciation for our partners. While this Hallmark holiday is one way to express our gratitude for our loved ones, it’s important to nurture our relationships on the other 364 days of the year, too.
Research reveals that financial stress, career concerns, and the demands of parenting can impact how we feel about our partners. When we’re under these pressures, we might feel more irritable, less appreciative, and more fatigued.
All of these factors can dampen the joy that we experience in our relationships.
In the midst of our busy lives, it can be difficult to pause and reflect on some nurturing ways to keep our partnerships on an emotionally healthy track.
To help you cultivate a strong connection throughout the year, we’ve put together seven tips for a harmonious relationship:
This advice might sound simple, but try to recognize one thing that you appreciate about your partner every day. You might write these down in a gratitude journal, and share a couple of these sentiments at the end of your busy week.
Try to cultivate present-moment awareness with your partner. Being mindful means paying attention to the things in your relationship that are important to you right now.
During times of relationship conflict, it’s common to return to the past by mentioning old hurts and disappointments. We’re also likely to try to ‘predict’ our partner’s future behavior by saying things like, “I know this will never change,” or “You will always forget to…”
These kinds of statements can foster feelings of helplessness and anger because they convey that you don’t trust that your partner will ever change his/her behavior.
It might sound cliché, but letting things go is an important aspect of a healthy relationship. Forgiveness is an act of compassion that conveys that we trust our partner and recognize that they are human and make mistakes.
If you have difficulty forgiving your partner, it might indicate that you don’t feel as if they understand your emotional pain.
Couples therapy or coaching is one way to learn how to communicate more efficiently so that you can learn to let go of the past so that you can start over in the present.
Recent research indicates the poor communication is the #1 reason that couples break-up. Whether it’s a communication shut down (also known as stonewalling), criticism or a defensive communication style, ineffective forms of self-expression hinder our abilities to work through conflict effectively and to be empathic towards our partners.
One basic rule: Use “I” statements when you express your concerns and feelings. By owning and expressing yourself directly, your partner is less likely to feel as if they are being attacked. When people don’t feel defensive, they can connect and communicate more openly.
Humor is a healthy ingredient for maintaining a robust partnership. Laughter is one way that people relate to each other. Humor can also help diffuse difficult situations, and it’s one way that we can view life through a light-hearted lens that helps us keep things in perspective.
While no relationship is ever 50/50, maintaining a healthy balance of give and take in a partnership shows that you respect and care for each other. It’s also one way to show compassion for your partner.
If you notice they are having a stressful week, take the initiative to lighten their load by offering to take care of some of the daily hassles, such as the dishes, laundry or household cleaning that piles up during the week.
Take Time to Connect
Don’t forget to take the time to connect with your partner daily by having a conversation, going for a walk, or doing an enjoyable activity together.