We all know how hard it is to keep a relationship going, but there are a number of ways to make the journey a lot smoother. Here are the top five ways to to build a better relationship.
Love. That little four letter word that makes us feel so energized and motivated. But we all know that romantic, passionate love fades a bit over time, and (we hope) matures into a more contented form of committed love. To reignite romance, try to do something new and different and make sure you do it together. Whether it’s a pottery class or a white-water rafting trip, activating your dopamine systems while you are together can help bring back the excitement you felt on your first date. Research shows that partners who regularly share new experiences report greater boosts in marital happiness.
Give each other space
The above being said, you also have to give each other space. For a relationship to work out, you need to spend a lot of together time, and yet you need to give each other enough space to miss each other. Spending time with friends or doing something you personally enjoy can make you a better individual. And as long as you evolve as a person, your relationship will evolve too.
When you talk to your partner, tell them about your day. Be completely open with what bothers you and what you enjoy. Be specific about your emotional wants and needs. By opening yourself up, you’re expressing vulnerability and trust in your partner. Furthermore, by being so open with them, you invite them to be just as honest with you.
Generate 5 positive thoughts
Any negative thought you harbor can interfere with the parts of your brain involved in language processing, listening and speech, leading to mutual defensiveness and distrust. Statements like “You let me down” or “I don’t like your tone” or even an eye roll can generate a fight-or-flight reaction in the other person’s brain.
To counter this, employ the 5-to-1 rule: For every negative feeling you hold about yourself, the other person, or the topic at hand, conjure five positive ones. Research has shown this to be one of the most important factors for predicting success in personal and business relationships.
The first words you speak to someone will set the tone for the entire interaction, and a single compliment may be all you need to engender cooperation and trust. Complaints, on the other hand, immediately create a defensive reaction in the listener and will rarely get you what you want.
A simple suggestion is to begin each conversation with a sincere compliment, and end with a phrase that conveys deep appreciation for the other person. Research shows that remarks received at the end of an interaction are especially effective because they linger in the other person’s mind.