Most of us grew up hearing about fairy tale romances. The ones where people fall in love and inevitably overcome the odds to spend the rest of their days together.
It’s a nice sentiment, for sure, but the truth of the matter is that a relationship isn’t always like that fairy tale.
In fact, relationships — even the strongest ones — are hard work. They require time, effort, a whole lot of patience, and a willingness to forgive.
Aside from that, both parties need to work to establish longterm relationship goals in order to keep the relationship fresh and healthy.
Here are a few expert tips on how to establish a healthy, long relationship to bring couples closer to that fabled romance.
Communication is Key
Longtime readers have most likely seen this tip in almost every article, but it bears repeating. Lack of strong, clear communication, can lead to other problems, so talking to each other is essential.
So what exactly does effective communication look like?
Both partners should be willing to speak their mind. That doesn’t mean that they have free reign to be harsh or cruel, though.
On the contrary, effective communication requires an understanding of how the other person receives and interprets messages. Everything we do or say sends a message, whether we realize it or not.
Part of effective communication involves learning how your partner interprets messages and how you can get your messages across in a way that suits that style.
Support One Another
As a longterm couple, expect to sail some rough seas from time to time. Whether from external or internal sources, how a couple deals with these hardships has the potential to break them apart or bring them closer together.
Support a partner in a way that you would want support, but also understand that everyone deals with hardship differently.
What matters most is that your partner understands that you’re there for them through thick and thin.
Cell phones are great, there’s no doubt about it. But screen time can be a huge distraction from a relationship.
In fact, a study from Brigham Young University discovered that overuse of technology can cause partners to feel neglected.
Set aside time to be with one another without the distraction of cell phones.
It may feel tough at first, but doing so can help you learn so all sorts of new things about a partner.
What you do in your screen-free time is up to individual discretion, just make sure it’s consistent. Soon enough that screen-free time will become the best part of the day.
A relationship is like a partnership in many ways. But that partnership can’t function optimally unless both participants set clear boundaries.
Everyone’s boundaries are different, but we all have things we are and aren’t comfortable with.
That’s okay. In fact, it’s healthy.
Partners should strive to accommodate a partner’s boundaries as long as they’re reasonable and healthy. And if a rule or limit seems unfair or unhealthy, find a middle ground and compromise.
Spend Time Alone
It may seem counter-intuitive that part of being a healthy couple involves a good dose of alone time. But psychology suggests that each of us needs time to recharge every now and then.
Depending on how introverted or extroverted a couple is, the amount of alone time needed can vary on a wide scale.
Still, if a partner says that they need to be alone for a little bit, don’t take it to heart.
It doesn’t mean that they’re upset or that they want to break up. It just means that they want some time alone to relax and unwind.
Being alone from time to time is healthy, even for those in a relationship.
Little Gestures Can Have a Big Impact
It takes little effort to be kind, yet it has the potential to make someone’s day.
And kindness doesn’t have to be a large, sweeping gesture like an elaborate proposal or surprise getaway. It can be something on a smaller scale like cooking a partner’s favorite food or bringing them flowers.
While those small gifts may not seem like much, it’s shocking how much they can mean to a partner.
So go the extra mile and surprise a loved one with a little token of your appreciation. You never know how much they’ll value it.
Bring Up The Hard Stuff
So far we’ve talked a lot about setting boundaries and understanding a partner’s needs to solidify a healthy relationship.
But what happens when someone crosses a line?
Don’t just let it go. Ignoring the problem and internalizing can seem like a smart call, as it means avoiding a fight, but those negative emotions don’t disappear, especially if a problem persists.
It’s okay to bring up tough issues. This hearkens back to the importance of communication.
It’s entirely possible to handle these issues like an adult. But the problem won’t go away until it’s addressed, no matter how big or small.
Don’t Put a Partner on a Pedestal
During the early stages of a relationship, it’s easy to think that a partner is perfect. It’s even the basis of quite a few love songs!
While a new partner may seem like they came from the heavens, it’s crucial to remain realistic. Avoid setting unrealistic expectations early on.
No one is perfect. At some point, both partners will end up making mistakes or hurting the other. That’s part of every relationship.
Healthy Longterm Relationship Goals Are Attainable — If You Do The Work
Remember, relationships can be hard work. Even the best relationship will experience its share of ups and downs.
However, couples looking to set longterm relationship goals should be sure to consider each of the elements listed above. The importance of boundaries, communication, and sheer kindness cannot be overstated.
Be sure to check out our relationship advice archive for more great tips on how to keep the spark alive!