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Relationships can appear to be challenging, pushing us out of our comfort zone and requiring us to acknowledge not only our own needs and desires but that of another. Don’t worry, as overwhelming as this may seem at times, all you have to do is break it down! Pay attention to your daily decisions.

The key to a happy, healthy and lasting relationship isn’t some grand gesture or life-altering decision. It’s not just one specific moment, and there is no way to simply ‘be done with it’ once and for all. It’s an ongoing challenge that you must stand up and fight for each and every day. How badly do you want this? Only those who truly wish to succeed will come out ahead.

Looking to build a happy, healthy relationship? Pay attention to these 12 key secrets:

#1 – Fall in Love Every Day

Falling in love isn’t a one-time choice. You can’t just ‘set it and forget it’. Instead, it’s something that you’re going to have to continue working on each and every day. Every morning when you wake up, make a point of falling in love with your partner all over again. As you both grow and evolve through life, fall in love with the newest version of who your partner is. Most importantly, make sure that they know.

#2 – Mutual Respect

In order to build a lasting relationship, one must start with a foundation of mutual respect. Without it, we will be left with unattainable expectations, disappointment, hurt feelings, most importantly, a complete lack of trust. Even if you disagree or are upset, never lose respect for one another.

#3 – Fight Fair

Even the healthiest of relationships will involve disagreements from time to time. In fact, some experts believe that fighting, when done respectfully, will actually help to strengthen your relationship, as it allows both partners to air their concerns rather than internalizing them. However, if you’re fighting all the time, or if you’re fighting dirty (personal attacks, name-calling, etc.) then it will tear you apart.

#4 – Be In Tune

Practicing being in tune with your partner’s emotional state. Learn to tell when they are upset, angry, and sad. This will help you to recognize when it’s time to celebrate, as well as when your partner genuinely just needs you to be there for support. This can be predicted by understanding your partner’s body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.

#5 – Communication is Essential

While one may argue that in time you can learn to ‘read your partner’s mind’ the truth is that communication is essential at every stage. If something is upsetting you or irritating you, be honest with your partner. Share the things that you enjoy, as well as those that you don’t. This will allow you and your partner to be on the same page, working together as a cohesive unit.

#6 – Respect Boundaries

Trust is important, but it can only be established through setting clear, healthy boundaries. Avoid extreme measures like tracking your partner’s activities or snooping through their phone. While it may seem like a good idea at the time, even if you find nothing you will still drive a wedge between you that you may never overcome.

#7 – Include Your Partner in Your Life

There is nothing wrong with maintaining your own sense of independence to a degree, but you’re in a relationship now. It’s no longer just about you. If you’re going to spend your life with this person, you need to let them in. Include your partner in the things you enjoy, share your struggles and stop shutting them out of everything that matters.

#8 – Express Gratitude Openly

One of the worst habits that many relationships fall into is the decision to withhold attention, affection, appreciation or gratitude as a means of ‘making a point’. This causes hurt feelings and creates a rift in your relationship that you may not be able to overcome. Don’t take your partner for granted. Take the time every day to express why you appreciate their place in your life.

#9 – Don’t Take Date Night for Granted

It’s one of those habits that often falls to the wayside over time, but don’t ever stop dating your partner. Furthermore, don’t let the habit of ‘date night’ become mundane or unimportant. Take time to plan out your time together, find activities you’ll both enjoy. This is your chance to bond, connect and create memories together. Make the most out of it.

#10 – Encourage Growth Together

Every one of us is presented with the opportunity to grow and change as we go through life. Rather than seeing this as an individual activity, find opportunities to challenge one another, and challenge yourselves. Work together as a team, and it will help to bring you closer together.

#11 – Love Wholeheartedly and Without Condition

Don’t put conditions and terms on your love for one another. If you are going to take this step together, jump in 110%. You need to give your partner your heart, your whole heart. Tear down the barriers and limitations and learn to be completely vulnerable with this one person.

#12 – Keep Laughing

Don’t take life too seriously. There’s enough negativity and seriousness in the world, without you sapping all the fun from your relationship too. Instead, try to focus your attention on the reasons to smile and laugh within your relationship, especially when facing life’s challenges. Remember, regardless of what’s happening you always have each other. Maintain a good sense of humor, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.