In our culture, there tends to be so much focus on finding love. The reality TV shows we watch (like The Bachelor) feature the journey to selecting the right life partner. However, much less emphasis tends to be placed on what it looks like to stay in love and maintain a healthy partnership. In this article we will look at what psychologists have found to be crucial aspects of building a relationship that lasts a lifetime.
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It may sound cliche, however the importance of open, honest communication truly cannot be downplayed. One licensed mental health professional emphasizes the necessity of talking about everything, not only potential frustrations or unmet needs in the relationship. It is crucial for a couple to generate a level of comfort talking about sex, money, their dreams, anxieties, etc.
Another key aspect to healthy partnership is how a couple communicates. Instead of using criticism or shame, focus on communicating your emotions and needs clearly and respectfully, being careful to avoid blaming or attacking your partner. According to relationship expert John Gottman, patterns of communication such as criticism and contempt are indications of a relationship that will likely not last.
Remain curious about your partner
After a period of years together, it may seem like we know all there is to know about our partner- but we have to remember, they are continuing to grow and evolve, just as we are. Therefore, it is essential to remain curious about your partner, what is important in their life, and their emotional interior. Continue to ask questions and listen attentively as your partner shares about their successes, challenges, fears, and hopes for the future.
Try new things together
Research has shown that couples who experience deep love for each other are those that engage in new or challenging activities together. These experiences can help to mimic the ‘initial spark’ of early dating.
Consider making a list of new places you and your partner want to explore together, hobbies you want to try, or ways that you might expand your comfort zone as a couple.
Prioritise your own personal growth
While it is important to invest time and energy into the relationship, it is also just as important to preserve your independence and maintain your core sense of self. Continue pursuing personal passions and interests, while supporting your partner as they do the same. A partnership thrives when both individuals are doing what makes them become more of themselves.
Cultivate a culture of appreciation
A crucial way to keep your relationship strong and healthy is to generate a culture of appreciation. Instead of focusing on what you perceive your partner to be doing wrong, train yourself to look for the things they do right. Let them know the reasons that you appreciate them and affirm their positive qualities.
Even with the divorce rate higher than ever these days, it is absolutely possible to build a love that lasts. Consider which of these strategies you might focus on in your partnership. Building a fulfilling relationship takes energy and work, but it is absolutely worth it.
Marie Miguel is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com.