One of my most important duties as a wedding Officiant at Asheville Marriages is to keep couples focused on the ultimate goal: Achieving a happy and healthy relationship!
Over the years, I've read and researched tons of information on what makes successful relationships work, and I have compiled my top five tips for you here. I hope you enjoy!
Tip #1: Laughter is the best Medicine
Humor is both stress-reducing and fun, and it can also help maintain a healthy relationship. If your partner burns dinner, backs into the neighbor’s car, or puts laundry detergent pods in the dishwasher (I’ve done all three!), laughing it off is better in the long-run than getting angry. Sometimes this takes a deliberate effort, so just remember that everyone makes mistakes and it’s not the end of the world. Sweating the small stuff can slowly eat away at a relationship, so make sure to laugh as much as possible. Luckily for me, my wife totally gets this!
Tip #2: Distance makes the heart grow fonder
It’s important to put some effort into maintaining your own friendships, and plan an occasional night out without your partner. This helps to keep you balanced and in touch with yourself, and it will give your partner an opportunity to catch up on shows, movies, or books that you don't care for. Keep in mind that genuine love is something that can only grow on a foundation of true acceptance of each other’s individuality and separateness. Plus, missing each other a little really does make you appreciate your relationship more.
Tip #3: We need to talk…
There are certainly exceptions to this, but generally speaking, talking about feelings is soothing to women, and makes men feel uncomfortable. Understanding this simple biological difference can greatly improve your relationship. Men want to connect nonverbally, through touch or doing things together, and the deepest moments of intimacy often occur when you’re not talking at all. It turns out that when couples really feel connected, men want to talk more and women need to talk less, so they meet somewhere in the middle. For same-sex couples, this can also be true. Sometimes one person in the relationship enjoys talking about feelings and the other dreads it. The take away here is that the words must come out of the bonding, rather than the other way around.
Tip #4: Can I get a witness?
When your partner is sad or frustrated, you may not feel like you’re doing anything to help by just sitting there, but sometimes it’s enough to just be present and empathize. When we try to problem-solve too soon, we can interfere with intimacy. The goal isn’t necessarily to fix the feelings, it’s to help each other feel less alone. You can foster a strong sense of togetherness simply by being a caring witness to your partner’s negative feelings.
Tip #5: Exercise!
Yes, I’m talking about sweat inducing, heart-rate increasing exercise! We are fundamentally physical beings, so we really need to make exercise a priority in order to stay healthy. But regular structured exercise not only benefits your body, it also stabilizes your moods, regulates hormones, and triggers feel-good chemicals to be released in the brain. Studies have also shown that physical exercise helps combat ADD, stress, depression, and a host of chronic diseases. And you don’t actually have to do as much exercise as previously thought to reap the benefits. There’s a great book about this called Spark by John Ratey, M.D. that I highly recommend. The bottom line is that the healthier and happier you are as an individual, the more you have to give to your relationship. Personally, I’m more motivated by group exercise classes, but I believe that the best plan is the plan you can stick with. So get off the couch and figure out what works best for you. Do this for yourself and for your relationship!
I hope you benefit from these 5 simple tips. As Ben Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
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