Keep Your Relationship Strong When Life Pulls You Apart

The demands of everyday living can stretch any relationship thin at times. Balancing duties at home and work can be enough to tax a relationship — but throw in a couple of kids, unexpected financial demands, and increasing responsibilities at work, and you have a perfect recipe for a strained relationship. The bond with your significant other is of utmost importance when it comes to daily gratification and happiness in life. Don’t allow the distractions of a busy life to erode this bond. Instead, appreciate the importance of your relationship and make an effort to cultivate, and maintain, a strong connection with your partner. Many years of research by renowned relationship expert Dr. John Gottman point to the crucial importance of a couple’s friendship on relationship satisfaction and fulfillment. Take a look at your closest friendships and ask yourself what kinds of things you do to maintain them. Then do those with your partner. Here are a few ideas to start with:

Be a true partner

Of course it’s important to support your partner through rough times at work, family troubles, and life changes—both good and bad. To maintain a healthy bond, you need to be there for your loved one when support is needed. Keep in mind that your partner often does not need you to problem solve for them, tempting as that may be. Instead, lend support by listening and understanding, by helping your partner accomplish a task, or simply by being there – staying present when they are stressed. If you understand the situation and you can offer insights that might be helpful, great. But, wait for an invitation for input before offering it. Research has shown that, more than anything else, our partner needs to know we are on their side. You can show that by expressing interest and empathy during tough times.

Just as important is supporting your partner when things go their way. Celebrate your partner’s victories. Be generous with the kudos or the high fives, fist bumps, or hugs and kisses. Enjoy a night out together to celebrate success at work or completion of a project or maybe just to celebrate a really great day.

More than partners, be a team. Solve problems together, set goals together, meet challenges together. Whatever you do together, do it as a team. This can do wonders to strengthen your bond.

Laugh together

Of course, having fun isn’t just for kids. All work and no play makes anyone, and any relationship, dull. Take time regularly to forget the demands of your busy life for a while when you’re together.

Sometimes adults don’t make time for fun. While genuine laughter doesn’t have to erupt on demand, make the atmosphere right for laughter. Lighten up. Be playful. Maybe a playful tease. Tell a joke. See a comedy. Moments shared laughing are good moments. Appreciate and remember them. They’re healthy and they promote bonding.

Seek out new experiences to enjoy together

People who survive harrowing experiences together are known to form strong bonds. Even people who were strangers before such an experience might share an enduring bond thereafter. It’s thought to involve brain chemistry released during and after a tense, perhaps life-threatening, event. The suggestion here isn’t to intentionally seek out some dangerous, hellish experience to endure together. Rather, the idea is to shed light on how bonds are strengthened in certain situations.

Expose yourself to situations and experiences that are new and novel to both of you. Experience them for the first time together. It allows you to create lasting memories associated with the first time you went scuba diving together, or the first time you ate squid, or whatever experience comes along.

If you’re both risk-takers or thrill seekers to some degree, you might try hang gliding, parachuting, rock climbing, or white water rafting with your partner. If that’s not your thing, try a new restaurant or a new cuisine or attend an event you ordinarily wouldn’t. Maybe go to a bluegrass concert, or find a pick-up game of Ultimate Frisbee. Or check out the new exhibit at the museum. Experience uncertainty and unfamiliarity with your partner. Have fun with it. Share your perceptions.

When life tears you and your loved one in different directions, both of you need to recognize it and make a conscious effort to keep your connection with each other solid. It’s that bond of friendship that will provide years of relationship fulfillment and happiness long after the rush of a busy life is over.