The Top 10 Tips to Creating a Great Relationship

Lack of communication is one of the most frequent complaints cited by couples coming to counseling offices.

Communication of course is multi-faceted and may mean different things to different people. It is clearly not just the words partners say to each other but the way things are said and the meanings conveyed.

For example, if you are muddled or unclear in what you are saying you will not be understood. Or worse, your message could get completely misinterpreted potentially causing your partner to become hostile or withdrawn.

If you are highly emotional when you try to get a point across you run the risk of putting your partner on the defensive. In fact, if you are too emotional it is unlikely your partner will be able to hear you because they will be caught up in your emotions.

Being in a relationship that is easy and uncomplicated is certainly a lovely idea. However, in order to get close to achieving that state of bliss, you would be wise to learn some skills.

There are some couples who have achieved a certain level of ease and simplicity in the way they conduct their relationship. They have met the challenges and worked through many of the big issues. Even though they may have the occasional dispute, they treat each other with respect and try always to keep the bigger picture in mind.

Many couples still struggle with those challenges however. Some are at different stages than others and may just need a little help along the way.

I am convinced that if a couple decides to employ the following strategies (even just a couple of them) every day, their relationship will improve considerably.

The Top 10 Tips

1) Employ humor

When people are dating they laugh, carry on and have fun with each other. After the dust settles and you have been together for a while, somehow the weight of everyday life gets in the way of enjoying each other’s company.

If you have lost your sense of humor…try finding it again! Humor brings people together and makes for a more relaxed atmosphere. Everyone enjoys being entertained and laughter is contagious. Lighten up, be less serious and more playful, like when you were dating!

2) Promote dialogue

Communication means exchange, discussion and conversation between partners. For this to be effective each partner needs to listen attentively, speak without threatening or blaming the other and emphasize the positive. Share what is on your mind but be respectful of your partner’s feelings when doing so.

3) Be clear

If you are not sure about what you want from your partner, get clear before you bring it up. If you are dissatisfied and want things to get better then it is your responsibility to identify the issue(s) so that you can talk about it. If you are going through a personal struggle let your partner know that you are struggling with your own personal issues and that is not their fault.

4) Be considerate

Being accommodating, attentive, patient and thoughtful go a long way in creating a loving atmosphere where each partner is getting their needs met. Showing awareness and regard for your partner’s thoughts and feelings creates a climate of acceptance and love.

5) Be tolerant

If you are difficult to get along with and that has been getting worse over time, learn some tolerance quickly! Tolerance is about having a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward others whose opinions or beliefs are different than yours. It’s also about having a better attitude towards others, especially your partner.

Being tolerant of others is an admirable attribute that works well in a relationship.

6) Take responsibility

When a couple is not getting along there will often be some finger pointing and blaming. Be ready to accept that you have contributed to the problem. Accepting responsibility and not being defensive can be liberating and will promote harmony.

7) Agree to disagree when necessary

Couples will often fall into the trap of thinking there has to be a resolution to every argument or disagreement. One partner can respectfully disagree with the other. If an issue demands that there be a decision, some form of negotiation should be entered into.

8) Learn to edit what you say

I am not suggesting that anyone be dishonest or not share thoughts with their partner. I am only saying here that it is sometimes wise to examine what you are about to say for the effect it might have on your partner. Simply blurting out something that will change a pleasant mood or cause unnecessary upset will not be in the best interest of your relationship. There may be a better time or way to say something that can be hurtful.

9) Complement each other

There is ample evidence to show that couples who complement each other have better relationships. This behavior tends to create a positive, friendly and morale lifting climate in which partners feel accepted and appreciated. Complements are so easy to give and yet partners often forget or have not learned to give them. Using this simple tool more often in your relationship should help to improve your rapport.

10) Show affection

Everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated. Affection comes in all forms. Saying nice things to each other, smiling often, touching, kissing and doing things for your partner all demonstrate affection. These expressions validate your connection and enhance it. It is a great feeling when someone you care about shows that they care about you.

About the Author

Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, careers, and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work-life balance.