Stronger Together: 6 Steps to Building a Better Relationship
Whether you and your partner are going through a rough patch, or things are going smoothly in your relationship, it never hurts (and actually really helps) to focus some time and energy on building a better relationship. No relationship is perfect, which means that there is often room for growth even when things seem like they’re going well. It’s great to incorporate relationship building when things are going well, so that you have a good foundation to fall back on if the relationship falls on harder times. Relationship building might sound like an intimidating undertaking, and while couple’s therapy and counseling does fall under the umbrella of relationship building, there are plenty of other less intimidating avenues to try out. Building relationships can take many forms, throwing some fun into the relationship can make it even stronger. Here are six fun and easy ways to build a better relationship:
1. Learning about love languages
Love languages are a new relationship psychology fad sweeping advice columns and therapy rooms. The idea is that every person has a preferred way to give and receive love, whether it’s words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time or physical touch. Not everyone is entirely one love language or another, there are a lot of intricacies in how people prefer to love and be loved, so most people are some combination of the five. Learning what your own love languages are (which is easy to do through online quizzes and readings or books) can help you and your partner more effectively communicate your love. Understanding love languages can also add insights into how to best support your partner. Learning about love languages can help improve your relationship by making both partners feel loved and validated in their preferred way.
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2. Exercising together
Exercise is a great way to stimulate endorphins and keep up both your physical and mental health. And while exercising on your own has great benefits, finding ways to exercise with your partner is a great way to increase the benefits and build a stronger relationship. Having an exercise buddy can help keep you accountable, so that you hit the gym/trail/yoga mat even on days when you really aren’t feeling like doing a workout. In addition to accountability, you and your partner will both just be your better versions selves if you are staying active. Exercising together doesn’t have to mean going on long runs or hitting the weight room together (though it totally can if you’re into that), there are plenty of social sports that you and your partner can play together to keep yourselves active. Try out tennis, golf, 1 v. 1 basketball or going on evening walks. This is also a great and healthy way to hang out with your friends. Plan a pick-up game of soccer with a big group and make it a fun, sporty and social time. Regardless of how you choose to workout, doing so as a couple will make you both stronger, with the added benefit of strengthening your relationship.
3. Making a list of activities you like to do together
In addition to exercising together, you and your partner should brainstorm other activities that you can do together as a couple. Sharing hobbies is a great way to stay connected to one another, and make your relationship stronger. Spending time together is also an important aspect of relationship building, especially if you or your partner prefer quality time as your love language. Sometimes it’s really hard to find free time to spend with your partner, especially if you both have activities you do as individuals monopolizing your free time. Listing out activities you both like, and making plans to do these activities together will bring you closer together. Even if you can’t always make time for these activities, having these discussions and being proactive about spending time together will show your partner that you care and are committed to the relationship.
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4. Entertaining friends and family
Long term relationships are often more successful when you get buy-in from friends and family. It’s important that the people in your life like your partner, and that you keep up these relationships with friends and family even when you are in a romantic relationship. A great way to accomplish both those things is by entertaining friends and family as a couple. Have a dinner party for your potential in-laws, or order food in if you’re not a cook. Invite friends over for a barbeque or potluck. Organize a sporting game and tackle your plan to exercise as a couple while you entertain people! Entertaining people doesn’t have to be a huge fancy dinner, it’s just about spending time with the people in your life and keeping your connection to these people strong.
5. Scheduling check-ins
Communication is a hugely important part of every relationship. Even if you and your partner are close, it can be difficult to talk about certain subjects with one another, especially if you don’t have a set time to do so. A lot of couples talk all the time and believe that because of this they are good at communication. But good communication requires talking about deeper things like the things that aren’t going so well in the relationship. Scheduling relationship check-ups can help overcome the awkwardness of bringing up relationship problems to your partner. Checking in every couple of weeks or months or whatever feels right can ensure that you and your partner are on the same page, and are both feeling seen and heard in the relationship. Dedicating time to open communication, and learning to communicate effectively in this way will help improve your relationship.
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