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“Commit to investing an hour—on an ongoing basis—to work on strengthening your relationship, troubleshooting, and making it more satisfying,” says Manhattan-based licensed clinical psychologist Joseph Cilona, Psy. Set up a weekly or monthly dinner where you only talk about relationship issues or goals.Sure, it might sound drab, but getting your "homework," or couple's maintenance out of the way during a designated conversation is better than having it sabotage a perfectly romantic meal. “Once you think that your feelings don’t matter, won’t be heard, or are not worth sharing, you open the door to harbor negativity and resentment.” That includes positive feelings, too, she points out—especially when they’re connected with your partner.Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches.In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard.It’s so easy to fight about finances but talking about money—the right way—can actually help make your relationship stronger, Cilona says. The idea behind this is simple, she says: Love is an active daily choice, and you have control over how you’re feeling.“A couple that communicates their financial goals, and is willing to work together to achieve them, will likely have a deeper bond," he adds. “When we wake up and the first thing we notice is a flaw in our partner, it will be hard to feel connected and in love for the rest of that day,” she says.That’s why Cilona recommends that you and your partner identify recurring conflicts, and decide on the solutions.It’s helpful to focus on “specific and discrete behaviors” when you do this instead of labels and interpretations, he says.
But when you actually seek it out, it can be hard to find what you're really looking for—like a definitive answer on whether or not yours is healthy, and what's truly important.
For example, “When you forget to text when you'll be late, it makes me feel like you don't care.” “When we begin shifting our language to share how our partner's behavior makes us feel rather than just telling them what to do, I find that couples become more fluid and more aligned in their daily functioning,” she says. Sure, you and your partner have your own thing going on, and no one is perfect.
But maybe you admire the way your couple-friends seem to navigate conflict or you really want to emulate the united front that your parents have always had.
Sure, there’s your go-to advice like “don’t go to bed angry,” and “respect is important,” but we’ve all heard those before.
That’s why we consulted expert therapists for the best tips they most regularly share with their patients.