How do you build a stronger relationship?
No matter what your situation or the seriousness of your relationship, I have some tried and true pointers below.
They’re fairly unsexy tips, but the important thing is that they actually work.
1) Remember why you’re together
First of all in the unsexy ways to build stronger relationships is to remember why you’re together.
Before there can be anyhow, there must be a why.
So before embarking on these ways to make your relationship healthier, think about why you’re together.
What do you love about your partner?
What interests you?
What sparked your interest when you met?
The reason why you’re together is the foundation to your love and the longevity of your relationship.
Put some real-time and reflection into this.
2) Put the team over the individual
The next of the unsexy ways to build stronger relationships is to think of yourself as a team.
You’re not just two individuals who happen to be fond of each other and be in a relationship.
You’re also a team engaged in a common venture together.
This includes the practicalities of life and having a frank understanding between the two of you about things like finances, and responsibilities and knowing your triggers for what you tend to fight about.
3) Respect each other’s limits for real
Relationships are tough no matter which way you look at it.
The good times and love hopefully make up for it, but no matter how much you love each other, you’ll need to have respect.
The most important way to respect your partner is to honor his or her boundaries.
If they don’t like when you smoke around them, don’t!
If you promised to stop swearing so much, stop!
If your partner gets uncomfortable in crowded social situations, stop putting pressure on him or her to attend them.
There simply has to be mutual respect in order for a relationship to be strong.
Often this means having respect for boundaries you might find strange or “too much.”
4) Let your partner miss you sometimes
Another of the top unsexy ways to build stronger relationships is to let your partner miss you sometimes.
When we love someone it’s normal to want to be around them a lot.
But if you become too dependent and ever-present, you run the risk of stifling and suffocating them emotionally.
You also run the risk of creating a codependent situation where one or both of you depends on the other for their well-being…
…Or even worse, a codependent scenario where one or both of you expects the other to take responsibility for the feelings and state of each other and “save” or “be saved.”
That’s why it’s important to sometimes give your partner space.
Let them miss you a bit. If you’re truly a good match then you won’t forget about each other, don’t worry.
5) But never willfully neglect or ignore them
At the same time as you need to be able to spend some time apart, you should never willfully ignore or neglect your partner.
A common example is declining repeated calls or ignoring text messages for days because you’re just not into talking right now or are busy.
If you’re really too busy to talk, just say so. It takes a few seconds to type out a text and make it polite and sincere.
If you are feeling annoyed or resistant to contact with your partner, let them know.
There’s no reason to let negative or unresolved tensions fester.
Bring difficult emotions out into the open and navigate them.
Which brings me to the next point:
6) Communicate using NVC
The late Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, Ph. D. developed a great method for discussing difficult issues and emotions in a non-violent and non-confrontational way.
He called it nonviolent communication (NVC), and it works.
If you want to know an unsexy way to build a stronger relationship, take a look at NVC and start implementing it into your relationship.
Rosenberg’s outlook will give you a whole new perspective on how to handle conflict and frustrations.
“Every criticism, judgment, diagnosis, and expression of anger is the tragic expression of an unmet need.”
7) Develop communication and reciprocity in your sex life
Next up in building a healthy relationship is learning to communicate clearly about sex and intimacy.
Many relationships start with a strong physical spark but quickly fizzle out.
The reason is usually a lack of communication and openness, as well as a lack of reciprocity.
In other words, one of you expects the other to serve his or her needs, but isn’t thinking a lot about the other way around.
It’s important to have mutuality in your intimate life.
If you’re not sure what this would look like, talk to your partner and work it out together.
8) Deal with jealousy in a mature manner
Jealousy is going to come up as a concern in almost any relationship.
When it does, it’s important not to overreact.
Too much jealousy and possessiveness can be a sign of insecurity and destructive traits, but a little bit of jealousy is natural.
If your partner is jealous of you or you are jealous of your partner, try to see this in the gentlest interpretation:
You value them and don’t want to lose them.
It’s not toxic or controlling, it’s just valuing someone highly.
Try to see it in a neutral light and deal with jealousy when it arises. If it’s getting out of control, talk it through with your partner.
9) Be honest about issues you have with your partner’s family or friends
The truth is that one of the biggest issues in many relationships is not problems with partners and intimacy, it’s dislike of their family or friends.
When you become part of somebody’s life, you also get introduced to those who are close to them such as their friends and family.
That’s all well and good, but what if you clash with their friends or family?
What if you find at least some of them very annoying, stupid or boring?
This can end up being a big thorn in the side of the relationship, so it’s important not to fake it.
Let your partner know any issues you have with their friends and family.
Try to be diplomatic about it, however.
Don’t say “your dad is such a d*ck.”
Instead say something like “I have to admit I didn’t get along the best with your dad.”
10) Do your best to give the benefit of the doubt when possible
The benefit of the doubt is a powerful tool for friendships and relationships.
It means that in a situation where you could believe the worst or the best, you choose to believe the best.
This is different than naivety or letting yourself be walked on.
If your partner cheats or verbally or emotionally abuses you, you stand up for yourself.
But say your partner is often late and you’re not sure why.
Could they be cheating or are they just really overwhelmed with responsibilities?
Unless you have a real reason to believe they’re cheating, give them the benefit of the doubt: chances are they truly are just very busy.
These 10 unsexy ways to build stronger relationships all work.
If you do these things you will be giving your relationship all you’ve got and maximizing the chance of success and fulfillment.
Some relationships just aren’t meant to last; others are.
Just ensure that you adequately support and work on the relationships that are worth it so you don’t find yourself living in regret.