How to Build a Strong Relationship with Your Partner
The following is a guest post from Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”) psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working It out Together.
In the first excitement of new love, it seems that the good feelings will last forever. But, the wear and tear of daily living and life issues can cause you to put your romance on the back burner, and let it fall away. The skills couples need to keep intimacy alive in a long-term relationship differ from new relationship intimacy skills, and they’re not obvious because people don’t talk about them. Like most couples, you and your partner may need to lower your expectations of easy romance and glamour and raise your level of communication, gratitude, and having fun together.
Have a weekly “state of the union” discussion
This is not an argument or complaint session, it’s an opportunity to update each other on how things are going between you. I recommend it because partners often tend to avoid talking about what’s going on until a problem is created. If you keep each other informed of both the good things and the problems on a regular basis, nothing will get out of hand or become too dramatic to solve easily. This works every time with every couple in counseling who tries it.
Express love, kindness, and sweetness
The relationships depicted in the media (and probably your own parents’ relationship) do not model kind, loving, and considerate behavior very well. Although the press may be bored by politeness, kindness, and happiness, those traits will make your partner and your relationship flourish and blossom. Kindness is the lubricant of your communication and expressing love is the fertilizer that makes the relationship bloom.
Care for yourself and your partner
Guard against sacrificing too much by making sure you care about yourself emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Guard against narcissism and selfishness by caring about your partner in the same four areas. Achieving balance in these areas is the best way to ensure that your relationship will thrive, and no one will carry too much resentment, which is the only emotion that can destroy love.
Make a point to talk frequently and honestly to each other about your frustrations, about sex, about anger, about disappointment, about your appreciation of each other, about the meaning of life, about everything. No topic should be off limits. Learn to listen and communicate instead of fighting. Fighting is childish, and you want a grown‑up relationship.
Strive to work together to solve anything that comes up
Be a team, create a partnership. Don’t get stuck on who’s right or wrong. Instead, focus on what will solve the problem. Strive to work together so both of you can have what you want. When you build a successful working partnership, each of you will feel supported and respected by the other. When each of you feels the other has your best interests at heart, problems are solved not “my way” or “your way,” but so that both are happy with the solution. The mutuality of this type of partnership creates an environment of love where deep trust grows. When trust, respect, responsibility, and love feel mutual, that’s when we feel secure in being loved.
Keep your connection
You can keep it going through communication, sex, affection, understanding, and concern for one another. Nothing guarantees your relationship will remain stable better than a good, warm connection with great sex.
Have a sense of humor
Give the benefit of the doubt; care about each other. Store up plenty of good times in your relationship reservoir to draw on in the hard times. Treat your partner like your best friend.
Keeping love and sex alive in your relationship is what keeps the relationship alive
It’s like the roots that feed the tree. To keep that vital energy going, and the sap rising, you need to provide something new and interesting. Seduction can be as simple as causing your partner to ask what you’ve been doing that has you so energized and interested. When you’re enthusiastic, you’re seductive—it’s the most attractive we can be.
It’s easy to feel romantic when you live separately and date each other because every moment spent together is special. From the moment you begin to live together, such romantic moments are no longer automatic. Instead, much of your time together is spent on more mundane things: doing laundry, washing dishes, paying bills, or going to work. Although this can be new, exciting and fun at first, as soon as the initial newness of living together wears off, such everyday things cease to feel exciting and romantic, and you may find yourself feeling worried that your partner no longer cares as much or is as excited to be with you.
Tina B. Tessina is a licensed psychotherapist in Southern California, with 30 years of experience in counseling individuals and couples. Tessina is also the author of 13 books in 16 languages, including Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today, How to be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, and How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free, 4th Edition.
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