10 Emotional Muscles All Healthy Couples Exercise Regularly

iStockphoto.com, ArthurHidden
iStockphoto.com, ArthurHidden

1. Listening

You have to really listen to your significant other if you want a shot at really seeing them. But listening is so much more than hearing the words your partner speaks. Listening is about hearing the words they don’t speak, too—being so tuned into each other that you can sense when something’s amiss. Successful couples listen with their hearts, not just their ears.

2. Support

Solid relationships are made up of two people leaning on each other every day, in every aspect of life. Two people who see that they’re better equipped to tackle the world as a unit rather than apart. They are pillars of a home built on a foundation of mutual respect and shared values. But what does that mean in a practical sense? That they support each other emotionally and psychologically in all endeavors, personal and professional. That they run pretty much everything by each other. That they make decisions together. That they defend each other against any naysayers.

3. Understanding

The truth is that it’s really hard to see things from another person’s perspective. We all live in our own heads, and each of us is the product of our individual experiences. But part of being in a lasting relationship is figuring out how to see things the way your partner does pretty much constantly. You don’t have to agree with them, but you do have to at least try to understand where they’re coming from—to shelve your assumptions and beliefs and attempt to grasp how they’ve arrived at a certain conclusion. You have to understand each other, even if you don’t want to, because there’s no other way to reach compromise. And guess what? Lasting love is essentially one long compromise.

4. Forgiveness

If you want your relationship to last, there is no way around forgiving your partner time and again. Your partner will make mistakes, big and small. They will disappoint you more than once. But they are only as human as you are. Sometimes, it will be really difficult to forgive your partner. But if you love them, you are more than capable of finding it in your heart to look past their misdeeds, just as they are capable of reciprocating that kindness.

5. Humility

The biggest obstacle to humility is ego—that monster that lives inside each of us, feeding off of our insecurities, pride, and fear. But you can’t let your egos triumph if you want long-term happiness. Healthy couples own each and every single mistake they make. In fact, they learn to embrace the experience of recognizing where they’ve gone wrong so they can do better moving forward.

6. Apology

In addition to admitting fault openly, healthy couples are committed to the art of apologizing. They say “I’m sorry” regularly, but they also go beyond that simple phrase. After every mishap, they contemplate exactly how they can avoid making the same mistake twice. They pledge to themselves to do better because they genuinely want to be a better person and partner. They’re also keenly aware of the difference between making half-hearted promises and demonstrating contrition through actual changes in behavior.

7. Restraint

We all have our triggers—the things that annoy us royally and sometimes drive us beyond the brink of sanity. It’s especially difficult to control our emotional response to a situation in which we’re triggered by the person we love. Your partner will trigger you, but they deserve the most measured response you can manage when they do something to upset you. The good news is, when you approach your partner from a place of calm, they’re far more likely to be receptive to what you have to say, and you will likely reach a peaceful resolution much quicker. If you do whatever it takes to collect yourself before getting into whatever’s plaguing you, your relationship will be better off for it in the long run.

8. Appreciation

When you’re in a strong relationship, you and your significant other will both feel as if you landed the best possible deal. Underlying each day of your lives together will be a sense of appreciation for the other’s existence. Healthy couples don’t forget that. The very sight of their partners sparks an overwhelming sense of appreciation—to the universe, for setting them up to meet the person they love, but mostly to the person they hold so dear simply for existing.

9. Positivity

Being able to think positively is an important survival tool—for individuals and couples. We all have our meh days, when the world seems bleak and we feel terrible about ourselves and life overall. When you have a partner at your side to spin a situation and to remind you that life isn’t entirely grim, however, you snap out of it faster than you otherwise would. That’s a recipe for a healthier mentality and a healthier relationship. Two people who inspire each other to transform negativity into positivity are far more likely to last long-term.

10. Self-love

People who love themselves are in a better position to love someone else and to receive love. Think about it: How can you truly believe that someone loves you unless you love yourself? People in healthy, lasting relationships are committed to self care. They also proactively forgive themselves for their past mistakes, recognizing that they did the best they could with the knowledge and experience they had at that time. If you can forgive your friends and family for their missteps, you should be able to forgive your former self, too. The better you feel about your authentic self, the better equipped you’ll be to love another. TC mark

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