8 Unconventional Tips for a Healthy Relationship
People love to give relationship advice, it’s a fact of life. Whether it’s friends, family, coworkers, you name it, most people have something to say when it comes to what’s happening in your relationship. Whether it’s from personal experience, a friend of a friend or something they read in a book, people will give you their two cents. This means that you have probably heard a lot of the straightforward relationship advice that’s out there, things like ‘communicate’, ‘trust your gut’, and ‘don’t go to bed angry’. And while the conventional wisdoms do hold water, we’ve heard these types of things before.
Even if you are faced with conventional relationships problems, you might need some creative and fresh advice to solve these problems, which means turning to unconventional tips. Sometimes actions that look like they are unhealthy for a relationship can actually be things that help it last. Here are a few unconventional tips for a healthy relationship:
1. Don’t solve every single conflict
When you are in a relationship, there are bound to be conflicts big and small. And while it’s important to address larger conflicts head-on, it’s not necessary to address every little disagreement. Trying to address all of your disagreements will only lead to nitpicking each other and becoming overly critical. Plus what’s the goal of addressing every disagreement anyways? You don’t want your partner to act exactly like you or think exactly like you, so don’t try and make them! Learning to look past small conflicts will make your relationship more happy and healthy. Even when you are faced with a big conflict, it’s important not to always focus on solving it. Sometimes there aren’t clear or possible resolutions to conflicts. Sometimes one person will have to make a big sacrifice/compromise that they are not willing to. Or sometimes, you will just have to resolve not to see eye to eye. Focusing too much on resolution - even during big fights - can strain your relationship by forcing you to constantly compromise. Instead of focusing on solving the conflict, work on openly communicating, and moving past the conflict with empathy and acceptance of your partner, their point of view, and your differences.
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2. Overlook the things that aren’t working in your relationship
Like we said above, there is no need to solve every conflict, or even to focus on resolution when you and your partner do experience conflict. A great way to move past conflict is to try and ignore the things that aren’t working (and perhaps causing conflict) and try to focus on the things that are. This may sound like sweeping your problems under the rug, which it is to a certain extent, but more importantly, it’s reminding yourself of the reasons that you are in a relationship in the first place. Every couple fights, and you will fight with every person you are ever in a relationship with. Instead of focusing on the disagreements, focus on things that bring you joy as a couple. Do you love to play tennis together? Schedule some court time! Are you an awesome karaoke duo? Incorporate more nights on the town in your life. Watch more movies together, find more hobbies, or just focus on the stuff that you already like. Putting more focus and energy on the positive parts of your relationship will help you overlook, and even move past the things that are not working, which can make your relationship healthier and more joyful.
3. Don’t be afraid to hurt your partner's feelings (nicely, of course!)
If you want your relationship to work, especially long term, it’s important that you aren’t walking on eggshells around your partner at all times. You need to feel comfortable speaking your mind, regardless of whether that means compliments or constructive criticism. It’s important to highlight here that it’s never okay to be overly critical of your partner, and it’s never okay to be mean, but it is okay to prioritize your feelings over their own everyone once in a while. As we said before, sometimes you and your partner will disagree, and this can involve hurting someone's feelings. And while compromise is necessary in every relationship, sometimes you need to stick up for yourself, and this can come at the cost of your partner’s feelings. This is a really hard concept for a lot of people, especially people pleasers who will literally bend over backwards to avoid hurting someone they love. But think of it this way, if you are constantly worried about your partner’s feelings, you aren’t in tune with your feelings and what you want, which can lead you to feel unseen or unsatisfied in your relationship. The alternative can be ruffling a few feathers every once in a while in the name of your own wants and needs. This can also look like you calling your partner out on things that overstep your boundaries or go against your desires. Navigating relationships early on (and throughout) takes a lot of communication that can sometimes be difficult to hear. Don’t hide how you are feeling to save your partner’s feelings.
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4. Feel attracted to other people
A lot of people have misconceptions about what monogamy means. Even if you choose to be in a monogamous relationship, you can not always choose who you are attracted to, and as long as you don’t act on this attraction, there isn’t a problem with feeling attracted to someone that isn’t your partner . Feeling attracted to other people and developing little crushes is a totally natural part of life, that does not interfere with your relationship (again, as long as you don’t act on these crushes). Sometimes these little crushes or flits of attraction can actually make your relationship stronger. Having a fleeting feeling for a crush fade over time can remind you why you are attracted to your partner in a more serious, long-term way, reaffirming your decision to be a couple. On the other hand, if you and your partner both feel attracted to another person or to different people, you can explore opening up the relationship. You never know, monogamy may not be for you as a couple. Paying attention to your attraction to other people and talking openly about it with your partner (given that they are comfortable with these types of discussions) can take your relationship in a fun new direction. Even if you decide to stay in a monogamous relationship, these types of open conversations and trust in your partner are the basis of strong, healthy relationships.
5. Spend time apart
A lot of couples feel like they should try and spend as much time together as possible, and so they constantly plan activities and schedule time together. Sometimes couples don’t even realize when they are doing this, but almost by default just spend most of their time together. This can be especially true of couples that cohabitate. I mean, it doesn’t get much easier than staying in every night with someone you love. And while quality time is an important part of every relationship, especially for people who prefer quality time as their love language, it’s also important to have some time apart as a couple. It’s important to keep up with friends that you had before you started dating, and keep up with hobbies and activities that are important to you. You can also spend time apart and just do absolutely nothing. It’s super important to take some space for yourself every once in a while so that you can focus on introspection and self care. Taking time apart can also help you maintain your sense of independence in a relationship, which will help your relationship in the long-term. Plus, distance makes the heart grow fonder! After some time apart, you may enjoy each other’s company even more.
Taking time and space for yourself is a form of self-care that can actually improve your relationship. Get more relationship self care tips, customized lesson plans, quizzes and more with #1 relationship coaching and self care app. Download now and try us free for 7 days!
6. Don’t prioritize your children
Marriage/long term relationships themselves can be hard, but these relationships become even more difficult when there are children involved. Whether they’re your children, step children, adopted/fostered children, taking care of another human can be difficult and time consuming, and can put a lot of stress on your relationship. Conventional wisdom normally suggests that your kids should come first over everything else, but this type of thinking can often put your marriage under significant duress. It’s never good to completely put your relationship on the backburner, even if you think you are doing it for a good reason (aka your beloved kiddos). Intentionally setting aside time to be a couple and to check in with each other can help keep your relationship healthy for your sake and for the sake of your children. This tip comes with the caveat that of course you should prioritize your children most of the time, but just make sure that you and your partner have some time as a couple every now and again so that you can keep your relationship going long after the kids are out of the house. This is much harder to do when your kids are super little and dependent upon you, but that is often the most important time to invest in your relationship with your partner.
7. Let go of trying to be perfect
A lot of relationship advice will tell you that you need to be the best version of yourself in a relationship. Or that a good relationship will make you the best version of yourself. And while this is generally a good rule of thumb, no one can be their best self at all times. If you go into a long term relationship expecting only the best from yourself (or from your partner), then you are bound to be disappointed. Seriously, seriously disappointed. Relationships have highs and lows that are often directly related to our moods and imperfections as people. To be in a healthy relationship, you need to accept that things are not going to be perfect, and that you will not always have it all together. Once you let go of the idea of trying to be the ‘perfect partner’ or the best version of yourself every minute of every day, you will feel much more at ease in the relationship. And you will feel much more satisfied with the relationship when things are average, as they will definitely be at times. Letting go of this expectation will also give your partner more room to be imperfect, which is also super important. Your partner needs to feel as if they can be themselves, imperfections and all, which might be hard to do if you are holding yourself to the standard of ‘perfect’. Embracing imperfections is also much more fun than striving to be flawless all the time! Life is messy, and learning to roll with the punches will serve you well in your relationship and in the rest of your life.
8. Relish app
Seek professional help! For whatever reason, marriage counseling and relationship therapy are fairly taboo. Seeking out this kind of therapy often comes with the connotation that you and your partner are on the brink of divorce or that things just really aren’t working out. But not all therapy needs to be seen as a last ditch effort to save your relationship. Just like people don’t necessarily need to have a problem to go to individual therapy (it can just be for self improvement or a way to talk to someone), couples don’t need to be having problems to seek out relationship counseling. Seeking out relationship help before any big problems come up can actually help make a relationship stronger, and prevent those kinds of problems from ever arising. Relationship counseling/therapy can seem like a big commitment, especially if there are not any pressing problems in your relationship, which is why Relish is a great resource for couples that have relationship goals in mind. The trained relationship coaches at Relish can help you and your partner identify the current status of your relationship, and make goals to help improve it.
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