Inside: Consider which of these habits for healthy relationships you would like to grow in and work on. It can make a big difference in your life.
When it comes to what’s important in life, one thing is hard to ignore – our health.
We focus on our mental and physical health with therapy, exercise, and a well-balanced diet. We cultivate spaces and design our homes to encourage our well-being.
And we monitor our bank accounts and try to spend wisely to manage our financial health. We might embrace a meditation practice or seek fellowship in a church to nourish our spiritual health.
One aspect of our health that sometimes gets forgotten about, however, is our relationships. While it might feel like an afterthought, managing healthy relationships is paramount to our overall well-being. The negative effects of an unhealthy relationship can trickle over into other elements of our lives.
When we’re in an unhealthy relationship, our physical health can suffer – as can our mental health, spiritual health, and even financial health.
Fortunately, cultivating healthy relationships doesn’t have to be difficult. By prioritizing a few habits of healthy relationships, you might be surprised to see just how easy it can be to strengthen and develop your relationships.
Habits of Healthy Relationships to Incorporate Into Your Life
Just like the habits we embrace in other areas of our lives, habits can be a powerful tool to help us keep our relationships healthy and strong. Small, simple, repeatable actions can make a major difference – as long as you’re willing to commit.
While they might feel difficult to implement at first, over time, these habits are actions that will become automatic, almost effortless – and can transform your relationships in a positive way.
While many of the habits mentioned are geared toward couples, the same habits can be applied to relationships with friends and other family members as well.
Habit #1: Practice active listening
Have you ever found yourself thinking about what you’re going to say in response to someone – before they even finish their thought?
Or maybe you started thinking about something else entirely mid-conversation, or got distracted by a notification that popped up on your phone.
Passive listening – and downright ignoring the person you’re talking to – is an easy way to damage a relationship.
In all relationships, romantic or otherwise, it’s important to feel heard, respected, and acknowledged. That’s why active listening is such a critical habit to build. And it doesn’t involve any skills or even a ton of effort – just a sincere desire to be an intentional friend and connect by really hearing what they have to say.
If you’re easily distracted, make an effort to minimize disruptions – turn off the television and silence your phone – and really listen. By truly listening when your partner is speaking, processing what they’ve shared, and responding with sincerity and intention, you show them that you value them.
Habit #2: Foster open communication
Sometimes, it might feel difficult to express your thoughts or feelings, but holding back can lead to frustration, anger, and resentment.
Clear, honest communication is the foundation of any relationship and is a habit of happy families. Knowing that you can speak openly and honestly with your partner, without fear of retaliation or animosity, is paramount to building trust and truly connecting with one another.
Instead of making assumptions, ask questions, and be receptive to what your partner has to say. And when conflicts arise, be constructive and work together to seek solutions instead of trying to prove who is right.
Reserve judgment and make sure you fully understand where your partner is coming from. Ask clarifying questions.
Many arguments have started from people making assumptions and reacting rather than slowing down and taking the time to try to comprehend where the other person is coming from.
Habit #3: Spend quality time together
Another habit of healthy relationships that can make a real difference? Spending time together – quality time.
This is more than just existing in the same space. There’s a big difference between living with your partner or spouse and actually sharing quality time together. One is effortless – and one is intentional.
And in all fairness, quality time can be a challenge. Sometimes it can be hard to find that time, especially in our fast-paced, always-on-the-go society. It’s even more challenging when kids are involved. But carving out quality time for each other is crucial for a successful partnership.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to quality time. Quality time can be a classic date night at your favorite restaurant – but it doesn’t have to be.
It can be a shared cup of coffee on your back porch, cooking a new recipe together for dinner, a cuddle on the couch while you watch a new show, a vacation to a place you’ve never been. As long as it’s meaningful, intentional, and brings the two of you closer together, it counts.
This was a motivator for why we decided to move to live near family and that was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. It allows us to have more time with loved ones and makes it easier for my husband and I to have more time together too.
Having time apart is also important and can be a critical part of helping you to be the best version of yourself. Work to understand each other’s needs, boundaries, and love languages.
Habit #4: Setting expectations
Every relationship is going to have its own unique dynamics. It’s important that you set clear expectations with each other to prevent frustration and disappointment.
While there’s a bit more expectation-setting that happens at the start of a relationship, it certainly isn’t a one-and-done thing. It’s a habit, something you should do again, and again, and again.
You can – and should – set expectations around various elements of your relationship, from your budget and shared finances to the division of duties around your home.
You can set expectations around how you’ll handle conflict, how you like to communicate, or how much free time you’d like to have – and how you want to spend it.
The types of expectations that are best to avoid are ones that are unrealistic and unspoken. Don’t expect your loved ones to read your mind. And don’t expect your partner to act like some idealized actor you’ve seen in movies or how you imagine that someone else’s partner is. That’s not real life.
And it’s OK, even expected, for your expectations to change over time. By being flexible and open, you can ensure you’re both on the same page and working as a team.
Habit #5: Be willing to apologize and forgive
Everyone makes mistakes – it’s inevitable. Even couples who have been together for years, even decades, can still find ways to offend, overstep, or inadvertently insult the person they love most. That’s why it’s so important to know how to apologize for your wrongs and make amends.
By being able to recognize your errors, sincerely apologize for them, and chart a path to move forward, you’ll only strengthen your relationship.
You also have to know how to forgive. It’s easy to let resentment build up, or to hold a grudge. But when your partner approaches you with a heartfelt apology, it’s important to be able to put those feelings aside – or work through them together.
This is not to say though that every wrong action another person takes should be forgotten. It’s important to be wise with the relationships in your life and there are times when decluttering certain relationships is necessary for your safety and well-being.
With any of these habits of healthy relationships, it can be helpful to work with a trusted therapist or counselor to help you process things together. Work on identifying which habits you want to work on first and enjoy the benefits of having a strengthened relationship that’s continuing to grow and flourish.
Of these habits of healthy relationships, which one do you think is most important? Leave a comment and let me know!
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