I’ve married for almost 9 years, and have been with my husband for almost 11.
Clearly, I am no newbie when it comes to long term relationships. Sometimes these numbers even take us by surprise because we keep waiting for things to get hard! Sure, we have disagreements, and don’t always see eye to eye (DO NOT get me started about politics!), but we still enjoy being together. And that’s what matters most.
So to any of you who are currently in a long term relationship, the best advice I have for you is be positive and to stay consistent.
With that being said, here are 7 daily habits you should practice in your relationship to keep it strong and healthy. I practice each and every one religiously, and it’s done wonders for my marriage. I hope they do the same for your relationship, too!
1. SELF CARE
It’s kind of counterintuitive but self care is THE most important thing you can do to have a healthy relationship. Your partner is just that – a partner. They’re not your parent. They’re not your crutch. And they definitely aren’t your therapist. They are a bonus in life, and we have to treat them as such.
They are also not responsible for your happiness.
You are and will always be in charge of your own happiness. Your partner did not fall in love with an already attached girlfriend – they fell in love with confident, independent, you. You, with all of your quirks and uniqueness. So don’t lose that. Don’t meld into some unrecognizable girlfriend-bot. Nourish your individuality and cherish it because it will be the beacon of light throughout the rough relationship phases.
2. PHYSICAL TOUCH
Studies show that when we practice physical touch, we benefit our personal mental and physical health in addition to increased intimacy in the relationship. This is a no brainer, guys.
Whether it is cuddles on couch, a kiss, sex, or a hug – quality matters most. When engaging in physical touch, don’t mentally write your to do list, don’t be on Facebook, and don’t think about what tomorrow has in store for you. Be present! You will feel more connected, safe, and excited about your partner if you can actively engage in physical touch without any distractions. Both of you deserve this time together.
If you’re long distance, obviously you can’t physically touch each day, but make it a goal to have quality contact each day or as often as possible. Distance is not a cop out – you just have to work a bit harder.
3. OPEN COMMUNICATION
Vulnerability is scary. I get it. Putting yourself out there and showing the worst parts of yourself to ANYONE is crazy intimidating – especially to your partner. You don’t want your partner to see those sides of you, you want them to see the best of you.
But you are hurting your relationship when you are not being open and vulnerable with each other.
Trust me, being vulnerable and open will do wonders for your relationship. From the things you are worrying about, to an interesting article you just read, to that pit in your stomach fear that you might be getting fired, to a funny video you watched on youtube, sharing what is on your mind is an important way to stay connected with each other. And remember to not shy away from the scary stuff. Sometimes the last thing you want to say out loud to another person is the first thing you should lead with. Get it out in the open and let it bond you two together.
4. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Although this may seem like a solitary habit, that’s not necessarily true. Yes, you should be journaling, thinking, praying, chanting, or meditating about gratefulness and how it relates to your partner. Whatever your gratitude routine may be, integrate your deep appreciation for your partner within that practice.
But it’s also important to state why you are grateful for your partner out loud every day.
Tell them why you love them. Be specific about the ways. Explain how something they did made your entire day. Make sure they feel heard and appreciated. This exchanging of compliments, flattery, and admiration will do wonders for the development of your relationship.
5. WORK TOWARDS A COMMON GOAL
My husband counts this as one of THE most important – and he may be onto something. Working towards a common goal helps you keep a team mentality. I cannot tell you how easy it is to slip into competitive thinking after you have been together for awhile. Winning always feels good, but when you win, the relationship loses.
When you decide to work towards a common goal, you realign yourself and your partner against the issue. It becomes “us vs. problem” instead of “me vs. you.” And the problem is really what both of you are mad at – not each other! So make the problem the bad guy and fight against it together. You’ll have less disagreements, less stress, and less arguing, which makes any relationship way more fun.
6. LAUGH TOGETHER
Every. Single. Day. NEVER stop being silly together.
Keep those inside jokes going and thriving. My husband and I built our relationship on goofy behavior, made up words and catchphrases, and whenever things feel a little tense, jumping up and down while laughing and hugging or saying “it’s a DVD” reignite the spark of like between us. I know, we’re weird. But those goofy things you do with each other that seem meaningless are actually crucial to keeping your connection alive.
So let go a little! Have fun! Relationships can be serious when they need to be, but otherwise, enjoy the laughs.
7. BE KIND
Yes, I am stating the obvious, but I still feel like I need to reinforce it!
If the relationship is struggling, it feels damn near impossible to keep positive energy between the two of you. So remember to always fight fair – no name calling or below the belt burns. Remember to write them a sweet note or pay them a genuine complement. Remember to fill their gas tank, bring them lunch or a surprise treat. Remember to surprise them with date nights “just because.”
Above all, they are the one you love most, so let your words and actions reflect it.