According to eHarmony’s 2020 Happiness Index results, 82% of couples report being happy in their current relationship. The study also showed couples that consider themselves to be equal in their relationship report greater overall happiness. But what are the keys to a healthy relationship?
What constitutes a healthy and happy relationship is going to be different for every couple. But in a time where many couples are in close quarters, and possibly struggling to not rip each other’s heads off, trying some of the actions on the list below could help you make it through unscathed.
Keys to a maintaining a healthy relationship
My husband and I have a great relationship (I’m biased, of course). But we have had so many friends, and family members comment on the strength of our relationship that it got me thinking, what are the things we do every day to keep our relationship healthy?
Communication is the key to success in any relationship. It’s important to remember that communication entails both speaking and active listening. An article in Psychology Today cited a study that showed that people who listen with the intention of understanding, have greater satisfaction in their interpersonal relationships, as opposed to those who listen intending to reply,
I am continually working on being a better active listener. So much so that I even included a line in my vows about it. Every single day whether my husband and I are feeling good, bad, or in between, we talk openly and honestly. Some days it’s not as much as we might like or not as in-depth, but we still make an effort to understand how the other is feeling and if there’s anything we need to discuss together.
Openly discuss finances
On the topic of communication, one of the things we do to lower stress in our relationship is to be very open with financial conversations. We’ve always been upfront about our financial picture, but since we got married, it comes up more frequently. We’ll regularly have long, wandering discussions about the things we want to do and buy. We discuss purchases in the next six months, one year, or even five years. The best part is that we talk about where that money is coming from and how much we’ll need to save to achieve those goals.
I love this because it feels like we’re on common ground, planning where we are going together, instead of considering big purchases separately. It also gives us the opportunity to course-correct if someone is planning a purchase that isn’t practical given our current situation, like that new boat.
Check out this post on the 5 Fundamental Money Conversations You Need to Have With Your Partner if you need help getting financial conversations going.
Have a relationship with each other’s families
Anyone who has had a stressful relationship with a partner’s family can understand the impact families have on relationships. Establishing a stable relationship with your partner’s family can make your relationship better and easier in so many ways.
Being ingrained in each other’s families has made us feel more connected. It also solidifies that we genuinely did create one larger family through our marriage. It helps that our parents are incredible humans who are easygoing and kind. Even if the families in your life aren’t as easy, try to find common ground, shared passions, or other interests to discuss and bond over. Making an effort is the most important thing you can do when it comes to family.
Make time to be intimate
It’s sad but true that spontaneity and sparks at the onset of any relationship are going to fade over time gradually. Things are bound to change when you’re no longer devoting entire weekends to your significant other. This doesn’t mean intimacy needs to stop altogether; it just means you need to plan it like you would a trip to the grocery store.
For example, we know that most nights, we are going to be so exhausted that when it’s time for bed, all that’s happening is reading a book and sleep. Knowing that we might plan to go for a run, shower, and spend some quiet time together in the afternoon instead.
Support each other’s dreams
We always push each other to pursue passions and think outside the box with what we want to be doing. No dream is ever out of bounds, and we never dismiss a passion as too small or insignificant. The majority of these conversations never end up going anywhere. But it strengthens our relationship to know that we can bring anything to the table without judgment or fear of rejection.
You can see an example of my own recent dream-seeking in this series called A Millennial’s Adventures in the Gig Economy.
Share the housework
Housework is something that is often a touchy subject for many couples. It can quickly become a source of contention if both parties do not understand expectations. Compromise is critical, especially when it comes to keeping the household running smoothly.
In our house, most of the time I’m cooking and my husband is cleaning. If he cooks, I clean up. We split loads of laundry, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, painting, vacuuming, all of it. This balance has been the key to feeling valued. It also makes sure one of us isn’t feeling like we’re shouldering the bulk of the responsibility.
Appreciate each other
“Thank you” and “I really appreciate” fly freely in our household. Rarely will there be a lawn mowed or a load of laundry done without the other partner saying a simple thank you. After some past experiences where appreciation was not a two-way street, this is hugely refreshing and helps us to not only appreciate each other but our relationship more. Expressing gratitude is especially important if either partner’s love language is “words of affirmation” like mine is.
Work out together
There are a ton of benefits to working out together as a couple. An article in Psychology Today cites increased happiness and workout efficiency as well as a higher likelihood of achieving goals amongst the benefits.
A desire to work out together is something I was looking for in a partner and was lucky enough to find in my husband. When we were dating, we trained for a half marathon together. The time spent running, talking, and learning about each other was invaluable for building a strong foundation for our relationship.
Have shared hobbies
It’s great to have unique passions, and it’s important to spend time alone. It’s also critical for a healthy relationship to be able to share some passions. While my husband and I are comfortable spending time apart, in general, we would much rather be doing things together.
Shared hobbies can be both large and small. We enjoy paddle boarding, trail running, and traveling. But we also find shared interest in sitting in rocking chairs reading books and laying poolside catching some sun.
Challenge: Find two things that you and your partner can do this week to rekindle your shared hobbies.
Be best friends
It’s likely that your relationship once began as a friendship or genuine joy at the time spent together. When the monotony of real-life sets in and you fall into patterns, it can be easy to forget what you loved about your partner so much in the first place.
There’s no one I would rather share my triumphs and struggles with than my husband. At the end of the day, friendship is the foundation of our relationship. At least several times a week, one of us will make a passing comment about how much we genuinely enjoy hanging out with each other. Make it a point to tell your partner how much you are enjoying engaging in everyday activities with them. It could be just the push you need to plan some intimate time for later.
Are there things that you and your partner do to keep your relationship thriving? Tell me about it in the comments.