10 Secrets of Healthy Relationships
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10 Secrets of Healthy Relationships1 of 11
By Jessica Herman for Cosmopolitan
Truth be told, keeping him happy in the sack isn’t the (only) key to a healthy relationship. It takes some serious communication, openness, and—shout-out to Ben Affleck—work (!) to have a happy life with another human being. Consider these 10 tips from certified sex therapist Sari Cooper your healthy relationship bible.
Express Yourself2 of 11
“One of the foundations of a healthy relationship is being able to express your feelings to your partner and learning how to listen,” says Cooper. “Witnessing or mirroring (basically saying ‘I get you’) is a good basic form of communication.” But saying ‘I get you’ doesn’t mean ‘I agree with you.’ In other words, hear him out, but don’t just agree to keep the peace.
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Schedule Quality Time Together3 of 11
Particularly as you get further along in your relationship—moving in together, having kids, the whole shebang—you’ll have plenty of logistical conversations that need to happen. Who’s making sure the kids aren’t stranded at soccer practice, how to handle telling Momzilla that you’re going to his folks’ for the holidays, and so on. “That doesn’t give a sense of emotional bonding or intimacy that many people are craving,” says Cooper. Carve out quality time when you’re focusing on each other and nothing else.
Fight for a (Specific) Cause4 of 11
“There’s a term in couples counseling we use called ‘kitchen sinking,’” says Cooper. You probably already guessed what it means: That mountain of complaints that piles up like the dishes in your sink—starting with his griping about you stealing the TV remote and then snowballs into an argument about house chores and date nights. Don't do it. Arguing about a bunch of issues all at once is too overwhelming to tackle. Stick to one at a time.
Introduce New Experiences5 of 11
Now you don’t have to sign up for the next season of Survivor, but you do want to continuously introduce novel experiences into your relationship. Whether that’s adding a new sex toy into your routine, traveling to Tahiti like you've always dreamed of, or taking a French class together, you want grow together—and challenge each other—with new shared experiences.
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Express Appreciation6 of 11
Everyone loves an ego boost. Tell him what a great job he did planning your latest date so he doesn’t feel taken for granted. Chances are it will inspire him to give you the same well-deserved pats on the back.
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Make a Contract7 of 11
“A lot of couples have nonverbal contracts that are vaguely set up based on habits,” says Cooper, but many haven’t made a conscious effort to agree on who’s doing what. For instance, you might be the better cook, but you want him to step it up in the kitchen two days a week. Acknowledge your individual strengths, what you each would like to contribute (and where you’re willing to compromise). And renegotiate the contract every few years.
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Request Permission to Talk8 of 11
Ask your partner if it’s okay timing to chat about a touchier (read: contentious) topic before launching into a monologue.
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Be Spontaneous9 of 11
Remember how fun the just-getting-to-know-each-other, unpredictable sex period of your relationship was? Hold on to some of that magic even as you are together for a longer period of time. Make the effort to be creative, woo, and surprise each other. Take turns planning special dates.
Do You10 of 11
Growing and changing for the better as a person will make your relationship a better place. “One of the most important things about being in a relationship is you learn as much if not more about yourself as you do about your partner,” says Cooper. By watching the way that you react to your partner and the ways in which you’re challenged, you’re forced to grow.
Don't Give Up Your BFFs11 of 11
Absolutely true that you want your partner to be the first person you call with good news, and also the first shoulder you want to cry on. But the idea that your spouse has to be your number-one best friend is a myth, says Cooper. “Girls relate to best friends in a certain way, and I find a lot of women get dismayed expecting a man to react as a girlfriend would when he doesn’t.”
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