Healthy relationships aren’t necessarily effortless and completely conflict-free.
Rather, the strongest, longest-lasting couples are better equipped to deal with conflict in a mature way and are committed to growing both as people and romantic partners. We recently asked relationship experts to share what people in the healthiest relationships do regularly to keep their bond strong. Read on to see what they had to say:
1. They compliment their partner in front of other people.
“Couples in healthy relationships talk positively about one another to friends, kids, relatives, even coworkers. This is the opposite of undermining behaviors that characterize less functional relationships. Just saying, ‘My husband is handy,’ or ‘Mommy always makes the best dinners’ can be automatic and is a great way to maintain connection and closeness.” ― Dr. Samantha Rodman, psychologist and dating coach
2. They make time to connect, no matter how busy life gets.
“People in healthy relationships have regular times in their day-to-day routine to connect with each other. I’ve seen couples do this by walking the dog together, talking after the kids go down, watching their favorite shows or praying together.” ― Dr. Kurt Smith, therapist who specializes in counseling for men
3. They laugh freely and frequently.
“My husband and I laugh a lot. To the point where it’s difficult to be too upset for very long because one of us will usually do something to lighten things up. Topics can and should be serious when needed but having a sense of humor is a tremendous asset if you want to be in a healthy relationship. People that laugh a lot and generally just don’t take things too seriously can more easily enjoy a healthy relationship.” ― Dr. Marie Land, psychologist
4. They appreciate their partner’s positive qualities, instead of harping on the negative ones.
“As a marriage counselor, I see couples on my couch who have a lot to complain about when it comes to their marriage. But for the most part, they have the same problems as just about every other couple. The healthiest couples don’t focus on complaints. Instead, they look at the good things their spouse does and they make it a point to not hold back in their expressions of gratitude for each other.” ― Aaron Anderson, marriage and family therapist
5. They practice empathy, regularly putting themselves in their partner’s shoes.
“By doing this, couples are often able to overcome the misunderstandings that commonly occur in all relationships. This conflict management skill helps people in my office feel heard, understood and valued when their partner can genuinely say, ‘I may not agree with you but I understand you and can see how it felt that way.’” ― Kari Carroll, couples therapist
6. They always let their spouse know when they’ll be home.
“A frequent bone of contention in conflicted relationships is when one partner feels out of the loop or unprioritized. A simple call or text to say when you’ll be home from work or from a girls night out helps your relationship thrive and makes your partner feel secure.” ― Dr. Samantha Rodman
7. They never stop flirting with each other.
“Flirting is a unique way for a couple to show love and excitement for each other and have fun doing it. When couples stop flirting, the relationship gets bland and boring. The healthiest couples still flirt with each other ― and they do it a lot.” ― Aaron Anderson
8. They keep their fights clean.
“This means no name-calling, labeling or disparaging remarks about your partner whether you’re together or not. I often hear partners use sarcasm, biting comments or little put-downs with each other and then brush them off with a justification like, ‘I was just joking.’ Partners in healthy relationships practice being loving and respectful with each other always.” ― Dr. Kurt Smith
9. They forgive and move on, instead of holding grudges.
“A disagreement isn’t followed by emotional distance. Both partners own their mistakes, apologize and move on. They actually have time to enjoy their lives together even if an hour earlier they were disagreeing about something.” ― Dr. Marie Land