20 Things That Can Help Your Relationship
By Annette E. Barton, ACSW, BCD

  1. Really listen to your partner.   Don't rehearse what you will say as he or she is talking.  You will be able to come up with your response when the time comes.

  2. Likewise, look at your partner when you talk with him or her.  Stop what your are doing, if you aren't driving or operating machinery, and really pay attention to what your partner is saying.

  3. Focus on all the things your partner does right, not what he or she does wrong.  When you focus on the positive things, you will notice more of them.  If you have difficulty finding things that your partner does that you like, think about those things that would upset you if your partner stopped doing them.  Learn how to be grateful for these rather than taking them for granted.

  4. Take your gratitude one step further and let your partner know that you appreciate what he or she did.  We all need to hear that we have done something right.

  5. Show interest in what your partner does or thinks.  Ask him or her questions.

  6. Develop a hobby or interest that you can share with your partner.  This can bring enjoyment and a sense of connectedness to your relationship.

  7. Be willing to share your thoughts and feelings with your partner.  This can build intimacy and closeness.

  8. Use "I feel" statements when giving feedback to your partner.  Avoid "you" statements because this can create defensiveness.

  9. Validate your partner's feelings.   Remember a time when you felt similarly.  Be empathic and let your partner know you can understand why he or she would feel that way.

  10. Show you understand what your partner is saying to you by reflecting back what you heard.

  11. In a discussion, listen first without defending yourself.  When your partner feels understood, he or she will be much more open to hearing your side of the discussion.

  12. Spend time with your partner.   Relationships require time, energy, and maintenance to stay healthy.

  13. Play with your partner.  Do something fun together.  Laugh.  Be spontaneous.  These things can bring much intimacy into your relationship.

  14. In a heated discussion, take a time out.  Go do something in another room.  Cool down and then resume the discussion.  When one partner asks for a time out, both partners need to honor that.   Give your partner the space to cool down.

  15. Treat your partner like your best friend.

  16. Be willing to admit when you have done something wrong and work on changing that behavior in the future.

  17. When you have children it can become difficult to have couple time.  Be sure to schedule time for the two of you.   Have a date night and rekindle the romance this way.

  18. Do something unexpected and nice for your partner.  For example, make coffee and bring it to the bedroom in the morning.   Buy flowers.  Take care of the children or pets so your partner can sleep a little longer.

  19. Be physically affectionate.   Learn how to do this if this doesn't come easily.  Hold hands.  Give your partner a foot or neck massage.  Touch can be very healing.

  20. Learn how to find the broader perspective.  No relationship is perfect and no one is perfect.  Measure your partner's unpleaseant behavior against the bigger picture.  Will it really be such a big issue a year from now?


2005-2007, Annette Barton, ACSW, BCD

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The information provided on this website is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or in any other way substitute for the assistance of a professional.

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4660 Marsh Rd.
P.O. Box 684
Okemos, MI  48805-0684
(517) 347-7457


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