A relationship cannot survive on its own. It needs the care and nurturing of two adults, giving to each other in a way that creates a mutually beneficial connection.
To foster a deep and loving relationship, there needs to be:
1. Kind, constant, and honest communication. Without talking, your relationship will not survive. The more you communicate, the closer you will be.
2, The willingness to work through difficulties and disagreements. Throwing in the towel, even if you don’t walk out the door, is not the path to happiness. You must face the discomfort that comes with differing opinions and ideas.
3. A sense of humor, some fun and a bit of distraction from the rigors of daily life. You can’t spend all your free time “working” on your relationship — don’t make it a hobby. Discuss what you like to do, where you’d like to go, and how you both like to have fun. Then go do it.
4. Sharing life lessons with the one you love. When you discover something about life, or you make a self-correcting move that is healthy for your relationship, let your partner know. You’ll be surprised by the positive response.
5. Emotional support, validation and compliments. If you don’t feel that your partner likes and respects you, there will not be a strong connection. You have to lift each other up and let each other know the depth of your caring.
6. Love, intimacy, romance, and sex. These are the cornerstones of a loving relationship. Being great roommates just won’t cut it. There has to be the desire to be together as a couple.
You may think the spark has gone, but there are too many ways to rekindle it. All you have to do is try.
7. Sharing goals and dreams that resonate with both of you. We are happier when we are working toward a goal than when we have achieved one. Make sure you always have something to look forward to and that you are pursuing it as a couple.
8. Compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness. These will show you the way through a difficult time. If you are together for a while, there will be losses, challenges and some things that you just can’t fix. Weathering the storms together is a big part of what relationships are all about.
9. A mutual desire to step outside the box. The tried-and-true is good, but the never- attempted-before may be better. Couples who share new experiences together develop a stronger bond.
10. Being able to admit mistakes and to talk about them. We all screw up. Learning to understand and let go of mistakes that you or your partner make will turn your life around and give you more time for joy.
Just as we need to breathe to survive, your love needs a breath of fresh air to flourish. Giving your relationship what it needs to thrive is a truly loving gesture.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is an award-winning therapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of seven books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 27 million readers. He practices in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles and is available for video sessions. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Sundays and Tuesdays in the News-Press.