Loving relationships don’t just happen. They develop over time. Whether your relationship began as an out-of-the-blue, love-at-first-sight explosion or grew more slowly from firm friendship, you need to give it your full attention if you want it to last.
You can maintain your loving relationship if you keep in mind three key reminders: share, care, and relationship repair.
Sharing and caring are obvious. But repair? Why would a good relationship need fixing? Like sharing and caring, relationship repair is necessary from day one to preserve what you love about your connection.
Just by being together, you are sharing your lives. Beyond that, people in loving relationships must be open and honest with each other. Your relationship’s health depends on how much and how often you share with each other.
Along with shared physical intimacy and sex, loving couples share emotional intimacy and feelings. Moreover, your willingness to share your secrets and reveal your deepest interests, fears, dreams, and disappointments deepen your sense of safety and belonging in the relationship.
Sharing physical intimacy means learning what sexually pleases your partner and expressing what you like. Make it clear that your pleasure means most when it’s mutual. Try new things. Novelty can keep your sex life interesting. A good sexual connection is often a sound predictor of relationship satisfaction.
In a loving relationship, partners communicate not only with words but by noticing and effectively responding to the emotions behind the words. Check in with your partner often. Ask how your partner is feeling.
Does your partner seem stressed? Learn your partner’s signals. What signs indicate sadness, frustration, anger, or confusion? Which demonstrate joy and pleasure?
Pay close attention to your partner’s tone of voice. Be aware of body language. Listen to what is not being said. Tuning in to your partner’s emotions helps you understand where they’re coming from. With this awareness, you can respond in positive, compassionate ways. Talk about what’s bothering you too. Above all, show that you’re grateful for your partner, what they do, and who they are.
Sharing Your Secrets and Concerns
Make your relationship is a safe place to share your secret worries. Honesty requires trust and results in increased trust. Being vulnerable to each other deepens your intimacy and strengthens your bond.
Build trust intentionally. Be as generous as possible. Offer to compromise. Also, be sure to set and respect boundaries. Don’t push your partner to do things they’d rather not do. When you disagree, fight fair. Know your partner’s needs and goals and how they mesh with yours.
Sharing your secrets is a way to honor each other and build your loving relationship.
The Benefits of Caring
Tenderness and caring is the basis of a loving relationship. And the benefits are as great for the caretaker as for the one being cared for. Taking care of someone releases oxytocin, a brain chemical sometimes called the ‘love hormone.” It’s associated with empathy, trust, sex, and building relationships. Hugging and touching in loving ways result in positive feelings and energy.
Supporting Each Other
Support each other and show that support by actions and words. Compliments and kind words go a long way to build your partner up. Remind your partner how great they are. And do it often. Don’t take each other for granted.
Small Acts Add Up
Show that you care in small ways as well as large. Little gestures count. What makes your partner feel loved? When do you feel loving? A back rub, a walk together, a surprise gift; playing a love song, letting your partner sleep in, making their favorite meal; watching the stars together, playing a favorite game, reading a poem.
Essentially, these small, low-key, caring behaviors, done consistently, show your appreciation for your partner and help you both dwell on the positive side of your relationship.
Notice Patterns and Recognize Triggers
Problems in relationships tend to repeat themselves. Behavior and communication fall into patterns like criticism by one partner and defensiveness by the other. Contempt on the part of one partner leads to withdrawing on the part of the other.
Relationship repair starts with noticing these patterns. Recognize the triggers that start arguments. Watch for signs in body language and tone of voice. Note how you are feeling. Stop, take a break, and calm yourself before continuing the discussion.
Regain Self-Control and Reinforce Commitment
You’re adults. You can recognize and handle your own emotions and help your partner regain control of theirs. Take responsibility for your emotions and admit your share of the problem. Then express yourself in non-inflammatory ways.
Also, avoid personalizing what goes wrong. Attributing a problem to your partner’s personality (“You forgot again. That’s so typical of you”) erodes commitment. Forgiveness, gratitude, building confidence, acknowledging strengths, and showing appreciation will reinforce your commitment to each other.
Stay in the Present and Away from Drama
You and your partner have a shared history. The story of your relationship has many chapters. Stick to the current problem rather than dragging in examples from the past.
Adults don’t need to play the victim or the martyr. You don’t need to keep score. Let your partner know how you feel and what you think without blaming. Try to concentrate on what you can do to fix the problem.
Focus on the Good Things, Practice Makes Perfect
Happy people seek the positive. Scan your relationship for what’s working. Choosing to see the positive instead of the negative starts a cascade of goodwill.
A saying attributed to Mark Twain notes, “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.” Approach your relationship repair with a kind heart, clear intentions, and an open mind. If your behavior bombs, try again.
These three tips for a loving relationship: share, care, and repair are equally vital.
Sharing physical and emotional intimacy and sharing your secrets will build your relationship. Mutual support, together with small caring acts, will strengthen it. Relationship repair includes noticing patterns, recognizing triggers, exercising self-control, reinforcing commitment, staying in the present moment, resisting drama and focusing on the good. This kind of repair will keep your relationship growing and healthy.
If you have trouble putting these components into practice, don’t be afraid to seek the help. Couples therapy can be a useful first step toward creating the relationship you want.