Relationships are akin to running a business.
Much effort goes into seeing that human partnerships run smoothly, remain vibrant, don’t fall apart, and when sh*t hits the fan – those issues are dealt with.
I am by no means a relationship counselor or a love guru.
But I’m also not totally unlike Barbara Streisand’s character in Meet the Fockers where she plays Ben Stiller’s mother who happens to be a sex therapist. She’s all about the love and appreciation for your lover. I feel this.
I do not have a perfect marriage. Anyone who says they do has seen one too many episodes of The Brady Bunch.
I am, however, very intrigued by human connection and how to optimize long term relationships.
Before I tied the knot, I researched marriage advice, sought couples counseling, and interviewed individuals whose relationships I admired. I wanted to be well equipped before I said I do.
Each relationship is unique, each has its own history, needs, obstacles, problems, and strengths. However, there are tools that can help create a healthy and strong bond if practiced and utilized often. Even when things seem really shitty and hard.
In an effort to not sound like a preachy know-it-all, the below bits of advice come by way of Huff Post, Medium, therapists, and couples I admire.
Here are some tools to help show your partner love, appreciation, support, compassion, and kindness on a daily basis.
This tip often comes in first place in every relationship article I read. A grateful mindset has been proven to play a role in an individual’s level of happiness, so it makes perfect sense that when shared with another person, they can feel it too.
Plus, it feels good to know you’re appreciated.
Say/kiss/hug hello and goodbye.
Whatever your greeting ritual is, implement it.
Forget about being romantic, it’s just straight-up rude to not acknowledge the human you share a home with.
“You need to hear their whispers, so they don’t have to scream.”
This piece of advice comes by way of Rev Run from RUN DMC. In his new book, Old School Love, he and his wife share some old school ways to keep the love alive and the relationship strong.
Listening and being in tune with your partner will help avoid the inevitable frustration that will come from not tuning in 100%.
Let your partner know you support them.
Sometimes humans need that extra little boost of confidence and support to help them get to where they are going.
When my husband decided it was time to switch careers after many years of trading and apply for film school, there was a little bit of “holy shit” going through my head.
But here’s the thing, this is his life too and those are his dreams and passions. I could not imagine holding him back from fulfilling his life long aspirations. No way.
At almost 40, he is in his second year of obtaining his film degree. His courage to reinvent himself and begin his next chapter inspires me beyond words.
As cliché as it sounds, have that date night.
Take your calendars out, set up a date night, and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. See a movie, walk to your favorite local restaurant, get a hotel room and make out.
It’s important to keep the spark alive and to still date one another.
Leave them notes.
Use a post-it note or grab a cheeky little card. Leave a love note or a message of encouragement. Even a quick “I love you” can change someone’s day.
People like to feel special, we like to feel loved. A note from a partner will induce a smile which will induce some positive vibes.
Don’t be an asshole.
This one is pretty straight forward. I didn’t read it anywhere, I just think it’s an important one.
During conversation, make eye contact so the other person knows you’re not just hearing them, but you’re listening to them.
This one piggybacks off of Rev Run’s bit of advice.
I have to put extra effort into this category as I am not good at multitasking during conversations. If I’m doing something while talking to my husband (or anyone for that matter), I’ll miss the details.
Half ass listening doesn’t work well, especially when there is so much to communicate about.
If you can’t pause what you’re doing to engage in productive/present communication, offer to be all ears at your earliest convenience.
Hold space and have compassion for your partner.
Space to grieve, an ear to listen, mutual tears, plenty of hugs, quiet moments, and patience.
Compliment. Flirt. You know the drill.
The flame can easily fizzle if you don’t add sparks to it here and there.
If you’re digging their look, tell them so. If you love what they did with their hair, throw a compliment their way.
Lifting each other up makes for a good flirt session too.
Apologize, forgive, and don’t hang onto the past.
Digging up the past will do nobody any favors because well, shit happens and nobody is perfect.
An apology is the first step to mending a hurt heart or admitting to a silly mistake.
Saying sorry and having the ability to move forward is definitely part of maintaining a healthy, long-term relationship.
Throw in a little romance.
In the words of Otis Redding, try a little tenderness.
Whether it’s the gift of flowers, a slow dance to your song in the kitchen, a candlelit dinner for two, or holding hands when together in public – romance is important.
Little gestures of love can go such a long way. They’re inexpensive, appreciated, and thoughtful.
Recall all the reasons you fell in love with your partner.
Sometimes we need to stop, collaborate, and remember the special moments and memories that ignited the flame in the first place.
When life gets crazy and perhaps creates frustration between you and your partner, slow down for a moment and reflect on how you became an item many moons ago.
This practice of recall can help induce patience, forgiveness, and strength.