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, random passersby on the street, you name it, most people have something to say when it comes to what’s happening in your relationship. While a little relationship advice can be helpful every now and then, it’s hard to know exactly where people are drawing their relationship advice from.... Are they giving you a tip based on personal experience? Are they repeating something that they heard from a friend of a friend or something they read in a book? Are they just giving you their two cents even if they don’t have any relationship experience at all? It’s difficult to know exactly where people are coming from when they offer advice about your relationship, but the fact of the matter is, it might not really matter.
A lot of relationship advice is pretty straightforward. You don’t have to be some kind of relationship expert to suggest things like ‘communicate’, ‘trust your gut’, and ‘don’t go to bed angry’. Just because these pieces of advice are common, doesn’t mean that they aren’t true. Conventional wisdoms do hold water and these are things that you should do when you are having conventional relationship problems. But what are you supposed to do if this advice doesn’t seem to be helping your relationship? What if you have tried all the conventional wisdom and you still feel like you need some guidance in your relationship? If this is the case, it might be time to turn to some less conventional relationship advice.
Even if you are faced with conventional relationships problems, you might need some creative and fresh advice to solve your 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. Don’t believe us? Check out the following unconventional tips and see how they can help foster 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. A common piece of relationship advice is about working through your differences as a couple. And while this is important, it’s not necessary to work out every little thing. Trying to address all of your disagreements will only lead to nitpicking each other and becoming overly critical. Plus discussing every conflict will paint you and your partner as adversaries, rather than as a team. It’s not always necessary to take sides or argue the little stuff, especially when in the grand scheme of things, you and your partner are on the same side. In addition to this - 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. Having different perspectives in your relationship is important. It’s equally as important to be able to express yourself without fear of causing an argument or disagreement. Constant fighting over little things often discourages people from expressing themselves out of fear of conflict or being shot down. If you and your partner do disagree (which you are BOUND to do), hear each other out, chalk it up to a difference of opinion, and move on.
Even when you and your partner are faced with a big conflict, it’s important not to always focus on solving it. Sometimes there are not clear or possible resolutions to conflicts. Sometimes one person will have to make a big sacrifice/compromise that they are not willing to. Other times, you will just have to accept that you do not see eye to eye and that resolving the conflict isn’t really possible. 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.
At the end of the day, you and your partner are compatible not because you think the same way and agree on every little thing, but because you are able to look past your differences, love each other in spite of disagreements, and put in the effort to make things work. Rather than focusing on your disagreements and differences, focus on the things that you do agree on and try to move forward as a team rather than as constant adversaries, trying to solve every single conflict.
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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 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 in the first place) and try to focus on the things that are. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore all of your disagreements, or sweep your problems under the rug, it’s about reminding yourself of the reasons that you are in a relationship in the first place, and choosing to focus on the good stuff rather than the bad stuff.
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. Like we said before, it’s important to remember that you and your partner are on the same team. If you look at every situation as a conflict, or only focus on the things that you disagree about, you will forget that you’re on each other’s side. Instead of getting caught up in this headspace, focus on the things that are going well in your relationship. And try to do activities that help you overlook the things that aren’t going so well. 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. Things have a tendency to work themselves out, which means that overlooking small problems in your relationship may actually be the best way to solve them. Of course, this is not always the case, but more often than not, it is better not to sweat the small stuff, and instead focus on things that are going well in the relationship.
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 giving compliments or offering constructive criticism. You might need to be critical of your partner from time to time, even if it means hurting their feelings a little bit. 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 every once in a while. And it is okay to point out when their behavior is unacceptable or out of line.
As we said before, sometimes you and your partner will disagree, and this can involve hurting someone's feelings. A lot of couples think that it’s more important to keep the status quo, then it is to air out problems. But this is often not the case. A lot of the time, you might have to hurt your partner’s feelings so that you can break through to them. Relationships should be supportive environments, but they can’t be supportive 100% of the time. 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.
The idea of hurting your partner’s feelings can be 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 to compromising 24/7 is 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. It can also look like walking away from a disagreement rather than compromising just to end the conflict as quickly as possible. 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. If you need to be critical of your partner, try and make sure that you are being constructive, so that hurting their feelings can make improvements in your relationship.
Learning how to set boundaries and speak your mind (especially with a loved one) can take time. Let Relish help you navigate tough situations and build confidence with one-on-one coaching, personalized advice and more. Try our award winning relationship app free for one week!
4. Feel attracted to other people
A lot of people have misconceptions about what monogamy really means. Even if you choose to be in a monogamous relationship, you can not always choose who you are attracted to. It’s totally possible to be in a loving and monogamous relationship and still feel attraction towards another person. 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 having little crushes or flits of attraction can actually make your relationship stronger. Having a fleeting feeling for a crush that fades over time will remind you why you are attracted to your partner in a more serious, long-term way, which can actually reaffirm your decision to be a couple. Attraction is not the only thing that makes a relationship work. So while you may feel attraction to multiple people, it’s not necessarily a threat to your relationship, because you may be completely incompatible in other ways. If you are committed to being monogamous, you shouldn’t harbor any guilt about having a little crush every now and then.
On the other hand, if you and your partner both feel attracted to another person or to different people, and you are open to a non monogamous relationship, 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, especially in the early stages when you and your partner are trying to get to know one another. This thinking leads couples to 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. Taking one night a week to yourselves, even if it means calling a babysitter or having your parents step in, can often be enough to keep your relationship going strong even through the toddler years. And while it may seem selfish in the moment, maintaining your relationship (even during stressful times) will create more stability for you and your children in the long term, which is beneficial for everyone.
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. A lot of people think that turning to relationship therapy means that your relationship is doomed or that you and your partner need serious help to save the relationship. 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 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. A lot of couples avoid getting help for their relationship because of the cost and commitment associated with traditional therapy. Relish is the perfect solution for these types of couples. Relish is a relationship coaching app that offers relationship advice and coaching in a super affordable and convenient manner. 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. The coaches can help you establish and achieve your #relationshipgoals so that you can have a happy and healthy relationship.
What do you have to lose? Let our qualified relationship coaches create a customized lesson plan and set action steps to help you and your partner achieve those #relationshipgoals. Click here to claim your free trial!