25 Ways to Have a Better Relationship Starting Today

25499221 - old man embracing woman sharpness on the bouquetIt’s what we all want, isn’t it?

A loving and caring relationship. A lasting partnership. A bond that gets better and stronger over time.

If we only knew how.

While having a better relationship requires effort, it isn’t rocket science. There are actions that build loving relationships and actions that all but guarantee unhappiness.

The good news: it’s easy to tell the difference.

More good news: there’s no shortage of healthy moves you can make.

Here are 25 of my current favorites:

1. You know that thing you do that drives your spouse nuts — the wet towel on the floor, the way you sneak a peek at your phone? Why not make a commitment to stop doing that and see what happens?

2. It’s easy to be committed to your marriage when things are going well. True commitment means keeping two feet in when the going gets rough.

3. We all have those chores that no one wants to do. Put one of them at the top of your to-do list, rather than waiting for your spouse to do it. (Yes, even the dreaded call to the cable company.)

4. Say please and thank you. (Your mother was right.)

5. While you’re at it, I’m sorry also goes a long way.

6. Pay less attention to your partner’s role in your difficulties and more attention to your own — it’s the only thing you can control anyway.

7. Generosity may well be the key to happiness. Be loving and generous whenever possible.

8. Know when to shut up (such as, when you’re about to say something critical or mean, or you’re hell-bent on having the last word.)

9. Know when to speak up. Forget about suffering in silence about issues that need to be placed on the table. Never mind settling or making do with conditions you can’t stand. No one is a better advocate for you than you.

10. Practice the three Cs: Compassion. Courage. Curiosity.

11. Accept the fact that truth comes in versions. (As in: It was Tuesday…No it was Wednesday…What do you mean I was angry?) Spoiler alert: you’re likely to fight a lot less.

23797229 - optimistic young woman with glasses of water, isolated on white12. There may be times that one of you is more optimistic about your relationship than the other. Be grateful to your spouse for being optimistic when you aren’t. Sometimes the only thing that gets couples through hard times is that they never wanted to get a divorce on the same day.

13. As the saying goes, we can either be right or free. As far as I’m concerned, being right is overrated.

14. Turn. Off. Your. Phone.

15. One of the advanced skills of marriage is learning to tolerate being disappointed in your partner and learning to tolerate when your partner is disappointed in you. The sooner you accept this, the happier you’ll be.

16. Date nights are great, but not always easy to arrange. Try “speed dating” — as in taking ten minutes to sit down together and give each other your undivided attention. Tea, wine, candle light optional.

17. Long hard day? Too tired to talk? Why not just sit together on the porch and look at the stars?

18. Give up the notion that marriage is a fifty-fifty proposition. Sometimes it’s sixty-forty. Sometimes it’s ninety-ten. Why not put in your best effort no matter what your partner does?

19. When there’s a winner and loser, both partners lose.

20. Feel free to ask for what you want as long as you’re clear that you’re not entitled to get it just because you asked.

21. Be willing to take risks. If we want to grow we have to step out of our comfort zone. Without growth and change everything stays the same whether we like it that way or not.

22. Find as many ways as possible to say I love you — with words and without.

23. Sex doesn’t stay hot and exciting all on its own. Use your imagination. Change things up.

24. Set a high standard for yourself as a partner and then strive to attain it.

25. Relationships are hard. When things are difficult, lean in to the challenge rather than give up or feel defeated. When things are going well, open your heart and appreciate all that you have.

_______________________________

My book, IT TAKES ONE TO TANGO, is now on sale! I’ll be giving away one more autographed copy.  To be eligible, tell me, in the comments section, which one point on this list you’re going to start doing.

Have a friend who might be helped by this post or my book? Please share!

For info regarding my talks and appearances, as well as news and inspiring cool stuff about relationships, follow me on twitter: @winifredmreilly and Facebook: WinifredMReilly or check out my book website: onetotango.com

16 thoughts on “25 Ways to Have a Better Relationship Starting Today

  1. Your writing is so inspirational. And aspirational (in that these things may not be rocket science, but simple doesn’t mean easy!).

    6. Pay less attention to your partner’s role in your difficulties and more attention to your own…

    Like

    • Yes, simple doesn’t mean easy. Still, better that than complicated or impossible. 🙂

      As I see it, when we pick one thing and then focus on that, we’ve gone from wanting a better marriage to doing something to make it happen.

      The one you picked is the first one I picked when working on my own marriage. I promise. It’s effective.

      Thanks so much for your kind words.

      WR

      Like

  2. I’m going to try and remember this one:
    19. When there’s a winner and loser, both partners lose.
    And:
    8. Know when to shut up (such as, when you’re about to say something critical or mean, or you’re hell-bent on having the last word.)
    I tend to want to win arguements.

    Like

    • #8 is hard. With some practice, though, dropping your end of an argument gets easier. It’s a really freeing feeling to not have to keep going.

      Would love to hear from you again about how it’s going.
      WR

      Like

  3. Thanks for your newsletters! I enjoy reading them and try to put your good advice to practice in my marriage and in life. My husband and I already practice a lot from this list, but I’m going to make more of an effort to put my phone down today! We actually get the opportunity once or twice a year to direct weekend retreats for young married couples through church. I’m always looking for good ideas and pass along your words. It’s a fantastic boost to our marriage of over 30 years to suck up the joy and energy from being with these young people and it seems to benefit them because they keep coming back! Thanks again!

    Like

  4. One of the advanced skills of marriage is learning to tolerate being disappointed in your partner and learning to tolerate when your partner is disappointed in you.
    I am going to work on this one. To be okay with disappointment- the reality is- I can’t control his perception of me or his perception of the situation. I am trying to accept what is during each moment.

    Like

    • Hi
      Yes, we can’t control other people’s perceptions and we can always avoid disappointing others. One an theymavoimd disappointing us. Takes a steadiness not to freak out about it or feel like you did something wrong.

      Check back in!
      WR

      Like

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