How to Improve Relationships

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Communication and a willingness to work together are keys to building strong relationships.

Relationships can bring out the best in people, especially when couples share similar interests and goals. But even the most solid relationships can be put to the test by those bumps in the road that everyone faces from time to time.

Just as men and women must work to build strong physiques in the gym, they also must put forth effort to strengthen their relationships. People who aspire to strengthen communication with their partners and improve conflict resolution can benefit from a number of strategies.

Don’t expect a mind reader. Do not wait for your partner to spell out how he or she is feeling, or you may never get to the root of a given issue. You must start the conversation before real change can begin. Find a time when you are both rested, well fed and not distracted by any other responsibilities. Allow your partner to express his or her feelings, and then explain your needs as well.

Curtail criticism and blaming. According to experts at The Family & Marriage Counseling Directory®, criticizing is the adult version of crying. It’s a method of relieving stress and showing distress. But inflicting pain on others will not get them to bend to your wishes.

Keep outside interests a priority. Your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend cannot provide for all of your needs. Expecting him or her to fill every role can lead to tension. Having outside friends, interests and a social network is a healthy idea. Just try to find a balance between that world and the world inside your home.

Spend quality time together. As relationships evolve and jobs, children and other influences are mixed in, it can be challenging to find the time to spend with each other and no one else. Make this a priority, as The HelpGuide.com team, a group of seasoned mental health professionals and writers, says time spent together is critical for your relationship. Without quality time your ability to communicate may begin to erode.

Consider professional help. Seeking the advice of a counselor, whether a licensed social worker or physiologist, is not a sign of weakness. It just means you are willing to do whatever you need to foster a strong relationship. A therapist may suggest strategies you never thought of, which can be useful for growing closer and/or resolving problems.

Laugh whenever possible. Try to put a positive spin on anything. Jokes and laughter (not snarkiness) can diffuse tense situations. Look to laughter as a way to bond with your partner.

Focus on being caring. Do nice things for your partner without requiring anything in return. Remember what your partner likes and begin doing those things again.

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