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A Roadmap to Healthy, Happy Love

Mutual Respect Always, No Exceptions

One of the biggest problems that develops in long term relationships is a lack of respect, it should be threaded throughout a healthy relationship on a continuous loop. A Chronic lack of respect often leads to the biggest precursor of divorce, contempt. According to Psychology Today “contempt, the opposite of respect, is often expressed via negative judgment, criticism, or sarcasm regarding the worth of an individual.” If you and your partner call each other derogatory names, criticize each other frequently, demean one another in public or behind each other’s back or disregard each other’s feelings on the regular, your relationship is in serious need of a respect recheck.

Draw Boundaries Together

Just because you’re a couple, doesn’t mean privacy disappears like a magician’s assistant. It is important to maintain a level of healthy privacy to ensure you’re both comfortable in the relationship. Set your boundaries together, such as not checking in too frequently when apart, giving each other space around the house, and of course never reading each other’s private emails or mail. Healthy boundaries promote trust and help strengthen the relationship. The Relationship People suggest, “Talk about what your ‘deal breakers’ would be and why they are important to you. Your partner may need to understand why you need these boundaries in place – as well as some of the things you’re willing to be more flexible on.”

Ask First – Don’t Assume Consent

Just because you are in a long term relationship doesn’t mean you don’t need your partner’s consent for activities. Something can still make a partner uncomfortable, and it is your responsibility to stop if you’re asked to, or sense that you should. Some people feel that sex is there for the taking if they have a long-time partner, but that is not the case. You are still two separate people who deserve to provide assent before indulging, or to turn down what you aren’t in the mood to do. Pressuring your partner to do something they don’t wish to is a form of abuse, and can still be considered sexual assault.

Open a Frequent Dialogue

Communication is the glue of love. When good communication starts to deteriorate, the relationship is doomed to weaken along with it. Couples should check in with each other frequently when it comes to matters of the heart. How are each of you feeling? Is there anything you need to work on together? It can do wonders for your relationship to be mindful of what your partner is feeling, listen to them with open ears and know what they need in order to remain happy. An open dialogue can help prevent too much fighting, as well as bring you closer together by promoting harmony within the relationship.

Show Your Love Some Love

Sometimes when couples have been together for a long time, affection starts to dwindle. Well, this needn’t be the case and can be a danger to maintaining a healthy relationship. Even if you aren’t still up for going at it like rabbits, you can still cuddle, caress and canoodle your way back to a great, loving union.

Don’t Lose Yourself in a Couple

One of the mistakes couples make in the beginning is morphing into one bi-human entity who hangs out with all the same people, participates in all the same activities, and comes just short of donning matching outfits. While you may want to spend most of your time with your significant other, it is also important to have separate friends, interests and time to yourself. It can be unhealthy to become too codependent. On a similar note, if your partner pressures you to give up your friends and your interests in lieu of solely sharing theirs, it can be a sign that your relationship is unhealthy or even abusive. You shouldn’t have to give up hobbies and friends you love just to appease your partner.

If Love Turns Toxic

These aren’t hard and fast rules, and there are many other guidelines for a healthy, happy partnership. If you feel your relationship may be lacking too many of these key ingredients it may be time for a chat with your partner, or to revaluate your love life. However, if you feel manipulated, controlled, pressured, undermined, demeaned, or physically abused in any way it is important to get out of the relationship as soon as possible or seek professional help to do so if needed. The Hotline is an extensive relationship aid resource which includes a confidential hotline for sufferers of domestic abuse.