You’ve likely heard the saying, “relationships take work.” While this is certainly true, here are some helpful and simple tips to make the “work” feel easier over a lifetime of love.

1. Be Vulnerable

At the basis of human connection is vulnerability. Be brave through being vulnerable as often as you can with your partner. Do this by sharing your hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities, and emotions.

Here are some of our favourite resources on vulnerability:

2. Give Validation

Validation is huge in relationships! Instead of reacting to or challenging what your partner says, feels, and experiences, simply validate them. Rarely does your partner need problem solving support. More often, they need emotional support (aka validation).

Here are some validating comments:

  • “I hear you”
  • “I can understand where you’re coming from”
  • “I get how you’re feeling”
  • “I can see how upsetting this is to you”
  • “I know this sucks and we will get through it together”

3. Prioritization

Continue to date and court your partner through prioritizing quality time together and don’t let the busyness of life get in the way. Try to find time every week to be present and engaged with each other.

Also Prioritize what is important to your partner and make it important to you.

4. Accountability Taking

One of the best strategies to dissolve conflict is accountability taking. Accountability taking is the opposite of defensiveness, which involves minimizing, deflecting, defending, or avoiding. Instead, accountability taking involves owning your contribution to conflict and what you do (or don’t do) that influences tension in the relationship.

For example:

  • “I know that when I’m late coming home and don’t let you know, it causes you worry”
  • “I take responsibility for not following through on what I said I would do”
  • “I know my aggressive tone isn’t helpful when you’re trying to tell me how you feel”

5. Build Goodwill and Fondness

Remember the good qualities of your partner and what you love/appreciate about them and share this with them. Having a warm heart towards your partner helps the relationship feel positive and stable as well as reduces any resentment.

Relationships that feel connected and happy have a ratio of 5 positive interactions to 1 negative interaction (to learn more about this, click here).

6. Assertive Communication

Assertiveness is the ability to express your feelings and ask for what you need in the relationship. Rather than assuming your partner can read your mind, share how you feel and ask clearly and directly for what you want/need. When sharing a need with your partner, it is important for it to be an affirmative need that invites your partner in. Rather than a negative need where you find blame/fault in what your partner is doing, in which case your partner will likely feel criticized.

Here are some examples of assertive communication:

  • “I am feeling lonely. I’d love for us to prioritize some time together this weekend”
  • “I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed. I would really appreciate and need your help cooking dinner this week”

7. Compromise

The most effective form of compromise in a relationship isn’t the kind where 50% of the time it’s done your way and 50% of the time your partner’s way. The most effective compromise is when you understand what’s important to your partner about their position and they understand what is important to you, and both of those important pieces are supported.

Some useful conversation starters around compromise are:

  • Help me understand what is so important to you about …
  • What can you compromise on?
  • What can’t you compromise on?
  • What values underly your position?

8. Noticing

Notice more what your partner does do, not what they don’t do. When you do this, you create a relationship environment based on appreciation.

Written by: Hadley Mitchell, R. Psych
Map Psychology Solutions
[email protected]
(587) 330-2999

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