Every relationship has its ups and downs, and sometimes we forget that a healthy relationship will require both parties to work on the relationship to maintain it. However, there are some common issues in a relationship that can make the relationship unhealthy. It is vital to deal with these issues so that the relationship thrives. There are three practical steps that you can take to improve your relationship/marriage to become healthier.

What a healthy relationship looks like 

A healthy relationship will be characterised by both parties experiencing happiness more than struggles – achieved through good communication, being emotionally connected and creating a secure environment. Hence, there is openness and honesty that will earn trust and mutual respect. They have realistic expectations and there is equality in their relationship and trust that they can work through their problems together.

In a healthy relationship, couples do not use each other as a “drug” to cope with life. They can have separate identities and yet are committed to having togetherness.

What are the common issues in a relationship?                

1. Unrealistic expectations

One of the common issues in a relationship is when couples have unrealistic expectations of what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like. Some expect that there won’t be any arguments or fights in their relationship. Others expect unfailing romantic gestures, ongoing words of affirmation, continuous acts of service, to be consistently excited in intimacy, and the list goes on. These unrealistic expectations will cause a build-up of disappointment, irritation, frustration, anger and resentment, which then contributes to the relationship breaking down.

2. Blaming their differences

When the relationship faces problems, it’s often easier for couples to blame it on how different they are from their partner in many areas. Often they blame their differences in personality, character, interests, goals, and hobbies. They forget that the reality of the opposite attraction is part of what brings them together in the first place. The issue here is not how different they are but more about whether they can negotiate their differences and use their strengths to compensate for their partner’s shortcomings or weaknesses.

3. Dependency

Some people use their partner to make them feel good on-demand, and they love how their partner makes them feel good. Often they use manipulation to get what they want instead of working on their issues. Some try to control how their partner should think, feel and act to fit their wishes.

4. Disconnect

These couples have few expectations and tend to look after their own needs. They feel loved because their partner is not hurting them, and they are happy as long as they are comfortable with each other. They believe that the less their partner knows about their ins and outs, the less likely their partner can hurt them. They love rules, which tend to be rigid to protect them from being close to their partner.

Unfortunately, many couples leave their relationship problems far too long before addressing them, or they often don’t seek professional help sooner. As a result, it takes longer to fix their relationship.

How can you improve your relationship?

Three practical steps that can help you to easily remember how to improve your relationship to become healthier use the analogy of growing a plant. For a plant to grow and flourish, it needs three things: regular watering, trimming and fertilising. It takes time for a plant to reach its goal, and the same goes for a healthy relationship. These three practical steps will help you to commit to achieving your goal.

1. A regular “watering”

This means that you need to spend time daily to communicate with each other, share your day and know where each other is at. Both parties are required to talk openly and honestly, and at the same time actively listen to each other. Feeling understood and supported is the key to healthy communication. Therefore, it is essential to avoid giving advice or trying to fix your partner’s problem, but instead, have ‘big ears’ to sit with your partner and understand their struggles and successes. It will help if you commit to connecting with each other every day. Be realistic with your situation; for instance, catching up with each other for 15 or 30 minutes daily is more viable and gives a better outcome than having two hours of irregular talking. Just like growing a plant needs just enough regular watering, consistency in communication is the key to success in “watering” your relationship.

2. “Trimming” at the right time

This means both parties are prepared to be shaped and to shape each other by letting go of their bad aspects, e.g. habit, character, pride, etc. and adopting a new attitude and behaviour that will benefit the relationship. A plant needs trimming from the old leaves, stems and dry flowers, otherwise, the nutrition for the plant will be wasted. For a relationship to grow, it needs some corrections and changes. It will involve a humble heart to admit your own mistakes, apologising and forgiving one another and starting afresh again. However, the time of “trimming” is crucial and there is wisdom in when to do it respectfully. It requires you to communicate well so it won’t offend your partner, and by doing so your partner will most likely be happy to take your challenge and improve. Similarly, it would be best if you were also open and willing to be challenged by your partner. If both parties are eager to change and improve, indeed your connection with each other will grow deeper and more robust.

3. The right “fertilising”

This means there are times that the relationship needs a special treat, such as celebrating your anniversary, birthday, or a date night once in a while for special occasions You cannot fertilise the plant too often; otherwise, the plant will die. Too much “fertiliser” in your relationship will defeat its purpose and become not special anymore. So celebrate your important occasions. Celebrating doesn’t have to be extraordinary, expensive or lavish. Nowadays, many people try to show off their celebrations on social media, making others suffer FOMO. When people are FOMO, their expectations become high, and often they will be set for disappointment, which ends up ruining the goal of celebrating. A celebration can be low-key yet still very meaningful and memorable for your relationship, thus, causing your relationship to improve and flourish.

However, sometimes some couples struggle to improve their relationship. There are many contributing factors, such as trauma, childhood trauma, difficult upbringing, etc., which are too hard to be resolved alone. Therefore, seeking help as soon as possible and working together with an expert – a competent Relationship/Couple Therapist – will help you in resolving your relationship’s problems and therefore improve your relationship.

Please don’t leave it until it is too late! Contact us to discuss further your uncertainty.