When love relationships are healthy that can increase our joy, sense of peace, connection, and fulfillment. When they are unhealthy however they can increase our stress, frustration, anger, distrust, and sadness. From a mental health perspective there are a number of success strategies that you can use to enhance your romantic relationships.
1. Choose wisely. When we choose to date people who are not good for us or to us, trying to use success strategies will have minimal impact. For example if I am with someone who doesn’t respect me or the relationship, improving my communication or intimacy skills will not make the person change. In order to have a healthy relationship we need to work to heal our issues so that we begin choosing partners more wisely. Instead of choosing someone who is dysfunctional and then working and praying to change them, we need to start being more practical and prayerful about the decisions we make before entering a relationship.
2. Be open to feedback. None of us are perfect and it is important for us to all realize there are ways we can improve. For your current relationship to succeed you may need to learn some things that are different than the relationships you saw modeled for you when you were growing up and perhaps even strategies that are different from your prior relationships. Each person is different so the things that worked with one person may not always work with every person. Communication is important so you can understand each other’s expectations, hopes, fears, and dreams.
3. Keep it fresh. It is important that we not take each other for granted. When we are initially dating, we often put our best foot forward and then over time we can see our efforts dwindling. It is important that we let our partners know they are loved, desired, and appreciated. Look for creative ways to communicate your feelings to your partner. The love languages include expressing your feelings verbally, physically, with time, with gifts, and/or by actions that provide help for your partner. Think about which area is your strength and which area you could try to improve.
4. Listen. People often end up either talking at each other or not speaking to each other. To keep the relationship going and growing both people need to be heard. Instead of becoming defensive, try to actually hear your partner’s concerns. Even if you don’t agree with everything, try to hear the inner issue or feelings that are motivating the statement of your partner. After you have heard them let them know you were listening by doing what you can to take into account their feedback. If people perceive that they are being ignored, they will simply shut down and stop sharing their issues. Successful couples really listen to one another.
5. Successful couples enjoy the different gifts that each one brings to the table. The two of you will not be identical. Instead of trying to create a clone of yourself learn to appreciate your partner for who they are. This strategy can greatly reduce the stress and tension between people and allow you to actually enjoy your different styles, personalities, and preferences.
For relationships to thrive we have to invest our time, emotion, and effort. Success is possible especially when both people are willing to work for it.