August 25, 2014

29 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Relationship

Written by Rachel Eddins

healthy relationship couple walking on beach holding hands

Why do some relationships last forever and others fall apart?

Here are some ways you can make your partner feel appreciated again and maintain a healthy relationship.

  • Treat your partner as you would your boss, best friend, or best customer.
  • Think about what your partner wants and give it to him or her.
  • Think of ways you can do the unexpected and be thoughtful. Remember how you acted when you wanted to win your partner over.
  • Pay attention to your appearance.
  • Express your thoughts carefully. Being married doesn’t give anyone permission to let it all hang out.
  • Spend regular time together alone.
  • Look for ways to compliment your partner.
  • Hug when you say hello and goodbye. It feels good and it makes people feel loved.
  • Learn and practice communication skills. Relating successfully to another person requires a set of skills that can be learned.
  • Be polite. Just because you are married doesn’t mean you can forget your manners.
  • When you want something, say please.
  • When your partner does something for you, say thank you.
  • When your partner comes home after a day at work, greet her at the door and say hello. Ask how her day went.
  • When your partner leaves for work in the morning, say goodbye and “I love you” or Have a good day.”
  • When your partner faces a challenge at work during the day, ask how it went when you get home.
  • During your evening meal together, avoid the temptation to watch television or read the paper or mail. Look at your partner and have a conversation.
  • If you want to make plans that affect how your partner will be spending time, check with him first and make sure it’s convenient.
  • When you ask your partner a question, make eye contact and listen to the answer.

More healthy relationship connection strategies

  • When you disagree with something your partner says, pay attention to your response. Do you express your opinion without putting her down? You can express your opinion assertively rather than aggressively. For example, you can say, “I have another opinion. I think we should wait until spring to have the walls painted,” rather than, “That’s silly! We should wait until spring.”
  • Pay attention to how much of your side of the conversation is asking questions versus making statements. If you tend to be the dominant one, ask more questions.
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage your partner to open up and talk. Open-ended questions begin like this: Tell me about…What do you think of…What was it like when…
  • Have you become passive with your partner because that’s the easiest way to avoid conflict? Over time, this is not a good idea. You will inevitably begin to build up feelings of resentment because you are stifling your feelings, thoughts, and opinions. If you think you are choosing passive behavior too often, think about discussing it with your partner and asking him to help you be more assertive.
  • Researchers have found that people whose marriages last the longest have learned to separate from their families of origin (their own parents and siblings) and have appropriate, healthy boundaries. They value and honor their own privacy and separateness as a couple. This means they have regular, appropriate contact with their extended family, but that it is not excessive or stifling. How do you compare?
  • Check your communication with your partner and beware of using “You” messages. These are statements that begin with you. For example: You need to come home by 6:00 tonight. You shouldn’t do that. You should call me from the office and tell me when you’ll be home. Here is what you ought to do. “You” messages are damaging because they make the other person feel bad or disrespected. It feels like you are talking down to him or her.
  • If you want to demonstrate to your partner that you respect and esteem him or her, try speaking with “I” messages instead. When you start your statement with “I,” you are taking responsibility for the statement. It is less blameful and less negative than the “you” message. You can use this formula: Your feelings + Describe the behavior + Effect on you. This is how an “I” message sounds: When I heard that you’d planned a weekend up north, I was confused about why you hadn’t asked me first, so I could be sure to get the time off. It takes some practice and you have to stop and think about what you are going to say, but your marriage deserves to be handled with care.
  • Make a list of your partner’s positive qualities. Share them with him and tell her why you think each is true.
  • Ask your partner to do the same for you.
  • Respect each other’s private space. Over time, many couples let this slide.
  • As the years pass, many couples begin to feel like they are living in the same house, but have parallel lives. Their paths cross in fewer places. What is the trend in your relationship and what do you want to do about it?

maintaining a healthy relaionship

Laugh Together and Maintain Your Connection

Laughter brings people together.

From movies to stand-up to internet memes — sharing a laugh is unquestionably engaging.

It’s one of the most enjoyable things two people can do together.

But did you know how important it can be when it comes to creating a love that lasts?

Laughter unites couples and deepens their connection…and that’s no joke!

Just 3 of the Many Benefits of Laughter

1. Laughter is Good For Your Memory

Studies show it sharpens our ability to remember. This may be, in part, due to laughter reduce the presence of the stress hormone, cortisol.

2. Laughter Can Reduce Stress and Build Resilience

We all probably know more than we wished we knew about highly addictive opioid drugs. Part of their effect is the release of endorphins in the brain. Good news: Laughter can induce a similar amount of euphoria as a narcotic — but, of course, without all the negative aspects. This is coupled with the fact that laughing in times of stress can help us regulate our emotions. Over time, we grow more resilient under pressure.

3. Laughter is Good For Your Overall Health

Among many other benefits, laughter has been found to:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Lower stress by decreasing stress-related hormones
  • Boost immune function
  • Increase good cholesterol

It may or may not be the “best medicine,” but it certainly offers a positive impact with few negative side effects!

How to Boost Your Enjoyment of Life Together

It’s probably clear how the above benefits would be helpful to any relationship. If you feel better mentally and physically thanks to laughter, you will almost certainly be nicer to each other.

In a romantic connection, laughter has also been shown to foster more openness and trust. Additionally, people tend to engage deeply and more effectively with others who laugh a lot.

According to research, men are also more likely to instigate laughter but woman chuckle about 126% more than men. Moreover, both sexes rate “sense of humor” as a top-three trait they seek in a mate.

Not surprisingly, studies find that when couples laugh together, they report being in higher-quality relationships. Think of you and your partner bonding, connecting, and engaging in the same way contagious laughter spreads.

Above, we discussed the laughter-induced release of endorphins in the brain. When sharing a laugh — whether in a crowded movie theater or two people alone together on a couch — this endorphin release fosters two important emotions:

  • Safety
  • Togetherness

Those feelings feed the laughter, which of course, keeps the upbeat cycle going. This may explain why, even when a couple is struggling, things can feel more manageable after a good laugh.

Inside Jokes

A bonded couple may feel as if they speak their own unique language. A big part of this dynamic is the creation of inside jokes.

Having a joke that only you and them truly “get,” is sort of like a fast lane to closeness and ongoing goodwill.

Build a Healthy Relationship with Your Partner

Studies have found that laughter often declines as long-term relationships progress. This is not only much less fun for you and your partner, but it’s also a worrisome sign for your bond.

Next Steps

For help in building a healthy relationship for the long-term, contact a couples therapist. You do not have to come in as a couple to work on your relationship. An individual change will change your relationship as well.

We have a group of therapists in Houston specializing in different areas. We also offer online therapy throughout the state of Texas and several other states.

Relationship Resources

The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples provides an opportunity for you and your spouse to benefit from learning the basics of strong, connected marriages, no matter how long you’ve been married. If marriage disconnection is an issue for you, this can be a helpful tool to get you back on track together. This can be a great resource to bring in with you to couples therapy. Click here to view more details.


The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples is designed to help you embark on marriage with a strong relationship skill set. We encourage you to strengthen your relationship foundation BEFORE you tie the knot – to pack your toolbox for the inherent ups and downs of life. This can provide insight for discussion in premarital counseling. Click here to view more details.

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