Nearly every couple will go through a phase where it feels like their relationship is in trouble. Fortunately, repairing and strengthening your connection isn’t as difficult as you might think. Sharing life with another person requires certain skills. And many of us didn’t receive ‘relationship training’ in school or ‘relationship modeling’ from our families of origin. Nevertheless, like any skill, learning to maintain your emotional bonds with each other is something that can be learned. Here are 7 ideas from the Gottman Institute that can help you improve your relationship.
Seek Help Early
Most couples who experience problems in their marriage deal with unhappiness for several years before seeking counseling. Nearly any relationship can benefit from professional counseling, so don’t wait until your marriage is in trouble before you reach out for help.
Being kind to one another is important for any successful relationship. Be sensitive to your spouse’s feelings, and practice being kind and respectful instead of critical. This may sound simple, but it’s important to treat your partner with the very kindness and support you would like reciprocated.
Learn How to Communicate
There will be arguments in any relationship. But disagreements can be handled in a mature way when partners learn how to bring up concerns without engaging in blame or being contemptuous of their spouse.
Accept Influence from Each Other
Effective relationships require give and take from both parties. Be willing to listen to the other person, offer help and encouragement, and make adjustments to please each other. Accepting influence doesn’t mean disregarding your own needs, it simply means demonstrating to your partner that you are an ally who is willing to live a life of connection — which sometimes includes reasonable compromise.
Hold Each Other to High Standards
People can to rise to what’s expected of them. So have high expectations of one another! If you both have low levels of tolerance for unkind behavior, it’s more likely that both of you will rise to higher standards and commit to nurturing your relationship and each other.
Create Plenty of Positive Interactions and Dwell on Them
For every one negative interaction, a healthy relationship needs five positive interactions deposited into its emotional bank account. These interactions can be small things like a smile, a kind word or acknowledgment. But research has shown that these positive interactions actually inoculate a couple from the impact of negative interactions.
Intimate partnerships can be challenging, but it’s both possible and rewarding to build a meaningful life together, and to establish a relationship based on mutual trust, love, and intimacy.