All relationships need love and attention. There will always be tough times to muddle through, but overall, your significant other should be a beacon of light in your life. But responsibilities do not fall on them alone to maintain your happiness. That should always be a group effort.
So you’re in love. That seems like it should be enough to get you through anything, at least, that is what your heart will tell you; unsurprisingly, there are many other important qualities that will make your relationship successful in the long term. Arguments are bound to happen, so it is best to be prepared when those situations arise. And even when not in the middle of a disagreement, there are certain positive traits that great couples possess to keep their relationships free from anger and distrust.
To compile our list today, we reached out to Fran Walfish, PsyD, who is a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent, a regular expert child psychologist on The Doctors (CBS), and co-star on Sex Box (WE TV). She has worked with enough couples to know what truly helps keep their relationships healthy; peruse her tips below. Refer back when you find yourself looking for more than affection to keep your love afloat.
Be honest. Sometimes the truth is uncomfortable, especially if you expect it to be met with anger. Be brave! Honesty in a relationship is extremely important because it is the fundamental thing that makes a person feel safe. Even if you think the truth will be hard for your partner to hear, they will appreciate it in the long run.
Be flexible. Rigidity is a sign of trouble. Try to be flexible. You may think your idea is best, but staying open to your partner’s opinions and ideas is an important ingredient in successful communication.
Use humor. When addressing your relationship problems, avoid being businesslike. Instead, use humor! Humor can diffuse a rough situation and warm your partner up to you. Laughing can diffuse the intensity of an argument, keep perspective and help lighten up the moment.
Let go of control. Even when your relationship is not on the line, there is no use trying to control others. It will leave you exhausted and deplete your capacity to enjoy your time with your friend or partner. Once you let go, you will find that everything, for the most part, falls into place; all that you need to do is enjoy yourself.
Be optimistic. View people as good until they demonstrate otherwise. Those who are not will reveal themselves in time, and you can then weed out the ones who are not worthy of your friendship. Well-worn couples may dismiss this, but you should know when to offer your partner benefit of the doubt.
Be supportive. Build self-esteem by using words that support and motivate with empathic attunement. If you have a complaint or criticism, present it like an Oreo cookie: couched between two positive statements. You don’t always have to agree with your partner, but everyone wants to be heard.
Be open. Express your feelings in the moment. Do not allow anger and disappointment to build up inside you. Say what you feel clearly and respectfully.
Take time for yourself. Be sure to set aside private time for yourself each day. Try for short, undivided, and positive attention to fortify yourself. You'd be surprised how challenging this is when you have a spouse and children tugging at you 24/7, but it is necessary.
Let differences work for them. No two people in the world are just alike, and, after working with hundreds of couples, I’m convinced opposites often do attract. But great couples learn to build upon those differences. They use each other’s strengths and let each other minimize their weaknesses.
Extend grace for minor annoyances. People do stuff that gets on our nerves at times. That’s true of all of us—even, or especially, with the people that we love the most. Great couples have learned not to let those little things distract from the major things like love and commitment. This may call for you to be aware of your own issues. Be accountable and own up to your part of the problem.
Serve each other. There are no 50-50 splits of responsibility in a great marriage. Great couples learn to sacrificially serve one another. In the best relationships, it would be difficult to judge who serves one another more. Neither person should complain when it’s their turn to give all.
Prioritize their time. Life is busy for all of us. Great couples spend time together. They find things to do that they each enjoy, and they say no to other things that would keep them from having adequate time together.
Keep no secrets. There are no hidden issues among great couples. They are vulnerable with each other. Both partners open themselves up to the other person completely.
Publicly support each other. Great couples are supportive of each other in public. They don’t tear each other down in public. They handle the private issues in private.
Keep no record of wrongs. Forgiveness is monumentally important in a relationship. There should not be any lingering issues between you and your partner, or else trust deteriorates.
Do not compare your partner to others. Measure your companion by his or her own standards. You should not have to strive for perfection for your relationship to be valid, so you should not force your partner to live by those standards either.