The 12 Most Important Things That Every Relationship Needs

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Photo by Renate Vanaga on Unsplash

Popular opinion: No relationship is perfect. Even if you and your partner are happy and in love with each other, you probably still have an argument—or at least a heated discussion—now and then. While these conflicts may be emotionally draining, they may actually make your relationship stronger. That said, if you feel like you've been fighting more often than you'd like to be, you may want to consider changing your approach to your relationship. We know that may sound a bit vague, but that's because every relationship is different, so what works for you and your partner may not work for another couple.

With that in mind, we gathered 12 key things that work for every couple that wants to strengthen their relationship. Keep reading to explore a few fail-proof tips if you want to go the extra mile.

01 of 12

Be Honest With Each Other

The truth sometimes hurts, but in our opinion, dishonesty hurts more. We've all heard the saying "honesty is the foundation of any relationship" because unconditional trust makes people feel safe. Even if you think the truth will be hard for your partner to hear, they'll appreciate it in the long run.

Being honest can be as simple as telling your partner that they may want to consider a breath mint or as profound as letting them know that you don't think quitting their job is a good idea.

02 of 12

Work on Being Flexible

Relationships are not about who's right and who's not. Even if you feel that your idea is better, try to keep an open mind before forcing your partner to concede. For instance, if you're headed home from dinner at your in-laws, and you are convinced that your route is faster, take a step back and ask yourself if this potential argument is worth it.

Think about it like this: Anything you feel you won't care about in 30 minutes shouldn't be something about which you need to be right. If you're having a much bigger discussion about something a bit more significant and genuinely think that your approach or stance on the topic is superior, you should feel free to speak your mind.

03 of 12

Use Humor When You Can

Hardly anyone actually enjoys arguing or talking about the underlying or obvious issues in their relationship. These kinds of conversations can put a lot of undue pressure on both of you, effectively making the already uncomfortable situation that much worse. If you can, try to lighten the mood a little bit. That way, you'll feel comfortable enough to feel like you can say what you want to say without your nerves getting in the way. Another plus is that a little bit of humor may help put the issue at hand in perspective.

That said, if humor doesn't seem appropriate, definitely don't force it. Some things are too serious to be joked about.

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Try to See the Glass Half Full

Remind yourself that you're with your partner because you think they're a good person. With that in mind, don't assume the worst when your partner does or says something. Unless they indicate otherwise, always assume that their intentions are good. When you start to doubt them or expect them to fail, you'll only end up creating mistrust.

05 of 12

Relinquish Control

You are the only person you can control. Even if you are used to being in the driver's seat, let your partner make a few decisions that they feel strongly about will remind both of you that you are equals in this relationship. If you always decide everything, your partner may start to feel like you're belittling or don't respect them.

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Support Them Emotionally

You don't always have to agree with your partner, but before you shoot their idea down because you think they're wrong, remember that everyone just wants to be heard. Make an effort to be there for them when they're struggling—even if it's due to a problem of their own doing. One phrase to avoid if you're working on being more emotionally supportive of your partner is "I told you so."

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Take Time for Yourself

Even if you enjoy spending a ton of time with your partner, be sure to set aside at least a few minutes every day for yourself. Whether you spend that time meditating, reading, or masking, you'll definitely feel a little rejuvenated and ready to socialize again.

Shoot for short, undivided amounts of time rather than taking a few hours to do something by yourself—even if it's just a few breathing exercises to steady your heart rate.

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Let Your Differences Work for You

No two people in the world are exactly alike, which is what makes couples so interesting. Happy couples learn to build upon those differences to strengthen their bond. Generally, these differences can make you and your partner the perfect complements. However, if you feel the need to change your partner in order to be happy with her, ask yourself if they are the right one for you.

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Practice Patience

People do things that get on your nerves at times, and that's true of all of us. Even if you absolutely adore your partner, they still may chew a little too loudly for your liking or hog the covers at night. It may be tempting to get angry and confront them, but before you do, wait a few minutes. If you still feel the urge to say something, go ahead. If it doesn't bother you anymore, it's not worth it. 

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Spend Quality Time Together

If you have busy schedules, travel a lot for work, or have a long-distance relationship, you may feel like spending a few hours together here, and there isn't enough to keep your relationship healthy. That isn't necessarily true. We all know that quality is more important than quantity, so if you're feeling insecure about how your lack of hours may be affecting your relationship, make an effort to spend the time you that you are together, you're making it count.

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Forgive and Forget

That said, if your partner has does something incredibly hurtful, do not force yourself to forgive just to avoid conflict. 

Forgiveness is monumentally important in a relationship. There should never be any lingering issues between you and your partner. (The keyword being "lingering.") If you're disagreeing, you don't have to sweep it under the rug and pretend everything is fine. By all means, talk about it. However, suppose you find yourself unable to forgive after you've had a meaningful conversation about the issue at hand. In that case, you may notice the trust go out of the relationship on both ends. 

That said, if your partner has does something incredibly hurtful, do not force yourself to forgive just to avoid conflict. 

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Avoid Comparisons

Measure your companion by their and your own standards. It may feel natural to compare your current partner to someone else—whether it be an old flame of yours or a friend whose relationship you envy. Remind yourself that you chose your partner because of their unique qualities, so measuring them up against someone not only hurtful to them but also unfair. 

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