How to Build and Maintain Healthy Relationships

A couple is holding hands in the foreground with a counsellor in the background

Building and maintaining a healthy intimate relationship requires effort, patience, and commitment. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in our daily routine and forget to prioritize our relationships. However, neglecting our relationships can lead to feelings of loneliness, dissatisfaction, and even breakups or divorces. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some tips on how to build and maintain healthy intimate relationships.

Healthy Relationship Tips

Get to know yourself 

Developing healthy relationships with others requires you to have a strong understanding of who you are. Investing time in personal growth, such as reflecting on your values, beliefs, and goals, is crucial. You need to ask yourself what brings you joy, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what your priorities are in life. Furthermore, identifying your preferred coping strategies and acknowledging any harmful patterns can help you make more informed decisions about the relationships you pursue and the boundaries you establish. Understanding yourself well allows you to communicate your needs, wants, and desires to your partner more effectively, creating a strong foundation for a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

Put in the work

Building and maintaining healthy relationships is an ongoing process that requires effort and dedication. It’s important to identify areas where the relationship may be lacking and take active steps to address them. This involves investing your time, effort, and energy into nurturing and strengthening your relationship. Take the initiative to connect with your partner regularly and show them that you value their presence in your life. Active listening, clear communication, and a willingness to work through relationship conflicts are essential for a satisfying and fulfilling relationship. By committing to ongoing effort and investment in your relationship, you can create a strong and lasting bond with your partner that withstands the test of time.

Communication is key

Effective communication is a key ingredient for building and sustaining healthy relationships. It encompasses actively listening to your partner, expressing yourself openly and honestly, and avoiding assumptions or hasty judgments. Good communication helps establish trust, resolve conflicts, and strengthen the bond between two people. It’s important to communicate regularly, not just when there’s a problem to solve. When disagreements arise, it’s essential to avoid jumping to conclusions or to solutions and instead actively listen to one another and ask questions that would lead to a deeper understanding if your partners needs, wants and desires.  Solutions are more welcomed when we feel heard and understood.  Strive to connect rather than to direct.  

Respect each other’s boundaries

Healthy relationships rely on setting and respecting boundaries. Boundaries represent the limits we set for ourselves regarding how we want to be treated, what we feel comfortable with, and what we expect from others. Communicating these boundaries clearly and respectfully to others is essential for building and maintaining a healthy relationship. When boundaries are respected, trust is built, and a safe and supportive environment is created. Respecting others’ boundaries is just as important as setting and communicating your own. It’s crucial to be willing to adjust your behaviour when necessary to honour and maintain boundaries. By establishing and respecting boundaries, you can cultivate trust and respect in your relationship, creating a strong foundation for a healthy and fulfilling connection with your partner.

Build trust

For any relationship to thrive, trust and honesty are the cornerstone. Without honesty, it is challenging to establish trust that leads to a genuine and fulfilling connection. Even when honesty is difficult, it is crucial to be truthful with your partner. Being open and transparent with your significant other is essential to foster a healthy and meaningful relationship. While keeping secrets or telling lies can cause irreparable damage and erode trust. To build trust it is essential to be honest, reliable, and consistent in our words and actions. We should avoid making promises that we cannot keep, and always remain transparent. Building trust takes time, but it can be shattered in an instant if we act in a dishonest way or break promises.

Show appreciation

Showing appreciation for the other person is an important aspect of building and maintaining healthy relationships. It is important to acknowledge and celebrate each other’s achievements and express gratitude for the things that the other person does for us. Showing appreciation helps to build a positive and supportive environment and strengthens the connection between two people.

Respect each other’s individuality and differences

In a truly healthy relationship, both partners must honor and celebrate each other’s uniqueness and differences. It’s crucial to give each other the freedom to pursue their interests and hobbies, even if they don’t align with our own. Remember, you didn’t choose your partner because they’re a carbon copy of you but because they’re their own distinct and remarkable individual. Respecting each other’s individuality and creating space for our differences can help nurture a sense of independence and self-worth, and cultivate a feeling of being acknowledged, appreciated and accepted for who we truly are, ultimately strengthening the relationship.

Work through conflicts

Conflicts are inevitable in any relationship, but how we handle them can make all the difference. When conflicts arise, it is crucial to listen to each other’s perspectives, communicate our thoughts and emotions calmly and respectfully, and collaborate to find a solution that benefits both parties. Avoid blaming or attacking your partner for past mistakes, and instead focus on the problem at hand and on finding a mutually agreeable solution. A couples counsellor can provide a safe and neutral space for both partners to express themselves and gain a better understanding of each other’s perspectives.

Make time for each other

Spending quality time together is essential for building and maintaining a healthy relationship. It’s essential to make time for each other, whether it’s going out for dinner, taking a walk together, or simply watching a movie. When spending time together, it’s important to be present and fully engaged with your partner. Put away your phone and other distractions, and focus on enjoying each other’s company.

Let go of control  

For a relationship to truly thrive, it is essential that both partners are given the space to exist as individuals. Attempting to control every aspect of a relationship can lead to unnecessary tension and conflict. It can also diminish the unique capabilities and individuality of your partner. Healthy relationships require collaboration and respect. It is crucial to remember that we cannot control every aspect of our partner’s behavior or decisions. To foster a strong and healthy relationship, we must make room for our partner’s opinions, desires, and needs while relinquishing our need for control. Trust and respect the abilities and decisions of others, and remember that there are many different ways to live and experience life.

Reflect, learn and repair 

In any relationship, struggles are inevitable. But instead of viewing them as obstacles, we can choose to see them as opportunities for growth and learning. It’s important to take a step back and reflect on the dynamics of the relationship and your own behavior. Owning up to your mistakes and taking responsibility for your actions is crucial for improving the relationship. While it’s natural to experience hurt and pain, it’s crucial that we don’t sweep these issues under the rug. Instead, we should take the time to repair any ruptures and work towards healing and forgiveness. Remember, professional help is available and couples therapy via video chat is an increasingly accessible option for many.

Building and maintaining healthy relationships requires effort, commitment, and effective communication. By respecting each other’s boundaries, building trust, showing appreciation, working through conflicts, and making time for each other, we can build strong and fulfilling relationships that bring us happiness and support. Remember, it takes the effort and commitment of both parties to make a relationship thrive. By working together, you can create a relationship that stands the test of time and brings you joy and fulfillment for years to come.

Relationship Counselling is another way to maintain healthy relationships

Building and maintaining a healthy relationship takes effort, and sometimes we face challenges that are difficult to overcome on our own. Seeking counselling is a brave and caring step that can provide a safe and supportive space to explore those challenges and work through them constructively.

Through couples counselling, partners can develop new communication skills, build trust, and strengthen their connection. A trained therapist can help identify patterns of behaviour that may be harmful to the relationship and provide tools and techniques to work through conflicts in a healthy way. They can also help address underlying issues such as past trauma or unresolved emotions that may be impacting the relationship.

Whether you’re just starting out or have been together for years, counselling can help couples gain a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives and learn new ways to communicate and connect. Everyone needs help sometimes, and seeking counselling is a valuable tool for maintaining a healthy relationship.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re struggling with challenges in your relationship, seeking counselling can be a way to move forward in a caring, constructive way that brings you and your partner closer together.

Maha Elias is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC), Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC), Comprehensive Family Mediator (FMC), and sexual health and trauma-informed couples therapist with a private practice in Victoria, British Columbia.

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