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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tips for building a Strong Relationship

Posted by NiXiE~ at 7:21 PM

1. Have a strong commitment to making your relationship

work.

Many couples start out with a strong commitment to their relationship
but, after a while, begin to give it less attention. They may neglect
each other while focusing on their work, children, or a time-consuming
hobby. In strong relationships both people may have outside interests,
but they continue to make their commitment to each other a top
priority.
Staying committed begins with accepting that having a good
relationship takes work. Problems can occur in any relationship, and
both people have to make compromises and adjustments. So it’s
important to accept some difficulties or “rough patches” as normal and
inevitable. Instead of trying to pretend that they don’t happen, make a
commitment to solving your problems together.


2. Think of yourselves as friends, not just as a couple.

Couples who stay together see themselves as good friends. They share
a variety of activities, enjoy each other’s company, provide support in
good times and bad, and they don’t take each other for granted.

3. Accept each other’s limitations.

Nobody is perfect, and long-lasting couples accept this and learn to
cherish each other despite their flaws. One of the biggest challenges
you may face as a couple is learning to live with many different kinds
of shortcomings. In the early stages of a relationship, both of you may
have to accept only small limitations. (One of you is messy and the
other is neat, or one of you always wants to try new restaurants while
the other would like to have a home-cooked meal every night.) Over
time, you may have to cope with larger disappointments -- for
example, that one of you has never achieved a big career dream or
earned as much money as you’d hoped. At every stage of your
relationship, it’s important for both of you to know that you’ll love and
cherish each other even if things don’t always work out as expected.

4. See yourselves as equal partners.

In successful relationships, two people may have very different roles,
but they see themselves as equal partners. They don’t regard one person’s views or interests as more important than the other’s. Each
person feels that he or she is making a vital contribution to the
relationship.

One of the best ways to foster this kind of equality is to ask for the
other person’s opinion frequently and show that you value it. Try to
make joint decisions on big issues -- deciding how to save for
retirement or how to divide up the household responsibilities -- and
learn to find creative solutions or make compromises when you can’t
agree.

5. Pay attention to how you communicate.

More than two-thirds of the couples who seek counseling say that their
problems include poor communication. It’s vital to learn how to
communicate with your partner so that both of you are able to express
your needs and desires clearly. One study found that couples can stay
close by spending as little as twenty minutes a day simply talking to
each other.

The quality of your conversation also matters. Researchers have found
that couples who stay together are much more likely to give each
other praise, support, or encouragement than those who break up.
Many people in long lasting relationships make a point of saying “I love
you” every day. Others continually show their affection in small ways.
They may touch or hug frequently, give each other back rubs, or tuck
romantic notes into the other person’s lunch bag or briefcase. It
doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you and your partner
show each other how much you care.

6. Develop a support system.

When they fall in love, many couples think they don’t need anybody
but each other. In the long run this usually turns out to be untrue.
Maintaining a good relationship is difficult enough that most couples
who stay together need a lot of support along the way. This may come from their friends or family. But it can also come from groups or
organizations that reflect their deepest values.

Some couples develop a support system naturally. They have large
and close families, or they’re naturally outgoing and make friends
easily. If you haven’t found a support system this way, you may be
able to develop one by making an extra effort to reach out to others.
Sometimes you can find support by getting involved in a community
group such as a parents’ organization, a religious organization, or an
athletic team. It’s also helpful to take the first step to reach out to
others -- for example, by organizing a block party or inviting a
coworker who’s new to town to have dinner with you and your family.

7. Handle disagreements constructively.

Even in the strongest relationships, it isn’t usually possible -- or
healthy – to try to avoid all disagreements. A desire to avoid conflict
can lead couples to ignore problems until they become too big to
handle. A healthy argument can help to clear the air and clarify
different points of view.

Since it’s impossible to avoid all arguments, it is important to deal
constructively with your differences. This means avoiding personal
attacks during arguments or discussions, which can destroy your trust
in each other or chip away at your feelings of being loved and valued.

No matter how upset you feel, try to focus on the issues involved in a
disagreement, not on who’s “right” or “wrong.” If you’re unhappy that
your spouse doesn’t pay the bills on time, don’t accuse him or her of
being lazy or neglectful. Instead you might say, “I’m concerned about
how late we’re paying our bills. This could affect our ability to buy a
house someday.” Or, “I’ve noticed that we’ve had a lot of late charges
on our bills. Do we need to work out a better system for making sure
these get paid on time?”

8. Make sure each of you has some privacy and independence.

In the early stages of a romance couples may want to do almost
everything together. But over time, most couples realize that each
person needs room to grow and develop, not just as part of a couple,
but as an individual.

In practical terms, this means that each member of the couple needs
time alone or with friends away from the other. Allowing each other
some independence is a way of giving your relationship room to
“breathe” and showing that you respect another’s unique needs and
interests.

9. Share rituals and traditions.

Almost every successful relationship involves some cherished rituals
and traditions that help to bind a couple together. Some couples share
daily rituals, such as eating dinner together or talking before bedtime,
even if one person is traveling and the conversation takes place by
phone. Others enjoy weekly rituals such as going to religious services
or to a favorite restaurant every Friday night. Still others have annual
traditions such as holding a Fourth of July barbecue or attending a
special holiday concert.

These activities help couples to define their values and can become a
kind of emotional glue that holds them together. The specific rituals
you choose aren’t as important as whether yours have a meaning and
importance for you and your partner. You might want to adapt the
favorite traditions of both of your families, create some new ones, or
use a combination of both.

10. Have fun.

No matter how hard they work, couples who stay together usually
make time for fun. Some set aside one night a week for a “date” with
each other even if you just go out for pizza or for a moonlit walk. What
you do isn’t important, what’s important is that you spend time
together having fun.

In order to keep having fun as a couple, you’ll need to keep re-
evaluating your definition of “fun.” If you aren’t enjoying your life
together as much as you used to, you may want to take up a new
interest or activity that the two of you can share, such as a hobby, a
sport, or a volunteer project. You don’t have to have the same
interests, but try to find at least one thing that you can enjoy
together.

Most strong relationships include at least some of the 10
characteristics listed above. You and your partner can make building a
strong relationship a priority by working these tips and characteristics
into your everyday lives.

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