Tips for a Healthy Relationship

Tips for a Healthy Relationship

Communication is the foundation for all relationships, and without it, you can have problems. It’s the No. 1 reason, in fact, that U.S. couples get divorced, research suggests. “When two people are communicating, roughly half of the message that is being passed and received is nonverbal,” Hardin says. “So it’s really critical to take a step back and think about your partner’s perspective when you’re communicating, especially when navigating text messages and emails.” Hardin suggests embracing a communication style called a bid for affection — where one partner reaches out to the other partner for connection and validation.

Occasional arguments are inevitable — and can be perfectly normal. It’s how couples argue that matters, Hardin says. “For a productive argument, couples need to converse with respect and dignity, and actively listen to their partner, versus getting emotionally activated, which can cause more issues,” she adds. If you notice you or your partner getting overwhelmed, Hardin suggests pausing the conversation and agreeing to come back to it another time.

If physical intimacy is important to you in a relationship, Hardin says that expressing your personal needs is critical. “As humans, we do a terrible job of helping people figure out how to communicate successfully around physical intimacy,” she says. “Start by talking openly about what works and what doesn't work, what you like and what you don't like, and then making adjustments in the moment.” If physical intimacy continues to be an issue in your relationship, Hardin suggests visiting a professional sex therapist.

Although grand gestures on birthdays, Valentine’s Day and other holidays, may be a special way to express appreciation, that might not be as meaningful as engaging in smaller acts more consistently, Hardin says. “Responding positively to your partner in everyday things — such as checking in with your partner throughout the day or picking up flowers on your way home — is the most important thing you can do for your relationship,” she adds. “Show them you care each day — that’s how you can keep a strong connection with your partner, and ultimately, a healthy relationship.” Taylor Hisey Pierson is a content strategist at Rush University Medical Center.