Skip to content

What Makes a Relationship Work?

Tips For a Successful, Fulfilling Relationship

Throughout my years as a counselor, I've had many opportunities to work with couples from all walks of life. As a result, I've witnessed firsthand the most common traits of happy, healthy relationships.

Relationships involve hard work, empathy, respect, and more. If you're ready to work on your own relationship, you'll want to learn more about these key traits and simple strategies you can use to help strengthen and improve your own partnership.

Do you really know how to communicate?

There's a reason us counselors talk about the importance of communication so much… it really is that important!

But what does good communication look like ? It's not just about talking and listening. ATTUNE is a communication skills model for strengthening relationships that's embraced by Dr. John Gottman of the Gottman Institute. It's a helpful acronym to remember:

Awareness of your partner's emotion;

Turning toward the emotion;

Tolerance of two different viewpoints;

trying to Understand your partner;

N on-defensive responses to your partner;

and responding with E mpathy.

Sometimes, following this process isn't as easy as it sounds. Tolerating a viewpoint that you think is downright wrong is hard. Getting defensive can feel good and righteous. But, you need to do these things if you want to cultivate an environment of open and honest communication.

Never assume that your partner can read your mind (or that you can read theirs)

Making assumptions is dangerous territory, but it's an easy trap to fall into, especially when you've been together for a long time and truly do know each other well.

If you have a need, emotional or otherwise, make it known. Similarly, ask your partner about his or her needs. If your partner is upset or angry, try to get to the root of why. If they've done something that's hurt or upset you, share it with them in a loving way, from a place of vulnerability.

The pillars of good communication come in handy here, too. When your partner shares a need, try your hardest to understand it without judgment. Trust me, I know this is so often easier said than done!

Practice gratitude for your partner and your relationship

So many relationship problems stem from a perceived lack of appreciation. As we go about our daily routines, it's all too easy to feel ignored and underappreciated by our partner.

But, people in successful relationships openly appreciate each other. Being thankful in life has many benefits, and that principal extends to relationships .

Relationships are complicated because humans are complicated, and that's okay

We can't “win” at our relationships every day, and if problems exist they'll take more than a day or two to resolve. But, if you and your partner take the time and (often uncomfortable) effort needed to improve things, the results can feel magical.

Communicate, appreciate, avoid making assumptions, try to empathize, and don't be afraid to let your walls down and get vulnerable. While you're at it, try adding these 6 small habits into your daily lives together . Sometimes, the smallest changes that we make each and every day can have the biggest impact.

Our caring therapists work with you and your partner to develop an action plan that will help you open the lines of communication and attain your strongest relationship. Contact us today!