First of all, let me make it known that I am not a relationship expert, but I am an expert in screwing up, making the same damn mistakes, over and over again, and blaming everybody else. With that said though, I have some pretty awesome advice. The advice I am about to give is totally what I know to be true.  Whether I can listen to my own advice, or not, on any kind of regular basis, is another story. Nonetheless, I’d like to share what I’ve learned over the course of many dysfunctional relationships, past and present. Here’s the 4 healthy habits of couples in strong, intimate relationships:

Strong Intimate Relationships

Habit #1: Make it a point to share concerns with one another. Practice it every day. You should care about the other person’s feelings, but at first, don’t worry about offending them until you’ve established the habit of sharing your concerns. If you worry upfront about offending your spouse, you’ll prevent yourself from getting in the habit of sharing your concerns.  If you don’t share them, you’ll never get them met. As you get better at sharing your concerns, you’ll get better at delivering them in ways your spouse can receive them. My husband very rarely shares his concerns with me, without me prodding first.  Often times, I haven’t the faintest clue what he’s thinking, so I operate according to what I think he’s thinking.  It usually results in conflict. On the other hand, I share all my concerns, but I’m aggressive so I don’t always get my point across, because he shuts me down before I do.  I’m practicing on my delivery and he’s practicing getting his needs known. We both don’t do it quite right, but our understanding of one another’s needs grow each day.  

Habit #2: Do temperature checks frequently. Life is a constant hustle and bustle.  There’s never enough hours in the day, no matter how much law of attraction, positive affirmations we make. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day things that don’t really matter anyway.  Couples in strong relationships make it a habit to check in with one another regularly.  It reminds you of who’s important, and it tells your spouse that you know who’s important. There’s nothing more hurtful than being forgotten, especially when it’s by the person with whom you share the most. Make sure you ask one another how the other is doing.  Be sure to be direct.  Ask questions like: “Do you feel our communication is okay?  Do you feel validated by me? Do you know how much I love you?  Have I shown you enough lately?  Is there anything I can do to make you know I love you? Do you know how important you are to me?” Those are just a few suggestions. Feel free to add to the list. My husband and I regularly text each other.  We probably share at least 5 – 10 text messages every day.  Most of them are simply to say “I love you,” or “I’m thinking about you.”

Habit #3: Put each other first. This might seem a little like the previous habit, but it’s a little different.  Healthy, happy couples put each other first, not when it’s convenient, but when it’s necessary. When you do frequent temperature checks, (habit #2) your partner shares a little of themselves with you.  They share with you their needs, their concerns, their desires.  In habit #3, you act upon what you know.  If they share with you that they like when you do a specific thing, do it. And, do it at your most inconvenient time.  Put everything else on the side, in order to put your spouse first. I might get some flack for this one, but I truly believe that when your spouse sees you readily willing to inconvenience yourself to bless them, it goes a long way.

Habit #4: Seek regular counseling. Healthy, happy couples know how important counseling is to a marriage.  They have no shame or condemnation in admitting they get counseling.  In fact, healthy, happy couples tell all their friends because they want their friends happy and healthy too. No matter how well you think you communicate, they’ll be times when you’ll need a mediator.  You’ll need a trained professional you both like and trust to help you see things from different vantage points, or to simply point out when you’re being stupid. Counselors can make you realize how stupid you are without telling you how stupid you are.