The importance of strengthening relationships

By Victoria Fryer 

A strong partnership, they say, is the foundation of a strong family. It’s true when you have children, and of course, it’s still true if you don’t. But I think, in some ways, it’s easier to forget that importance when there’s no child for whom to create a united front, so to speak.

I’ve written a little bit about this before, in the need for setting family goals even when you don’t have children to provide a common and uniting purpose in the relationship. Here are a few other ways I’ve been thinking about to focus on strengthening the partnership at home.

Check your communication. Of course this is always number one—and, despite my occupation and primary hobbies all revolving around writing, it’s one of my weakest points. It’s important to remember to confront problems as they arise and to set expectations with clarity. If you have a need that’s not being met, say so! Expecting people to read your mind never works. Seriously, never; I tried it for years.

Foster appreciation and respect. When we’re caught up in all the things we do to keep our lives in motion, like cooking dinner every night or calling to make appointments and refill prescriptions, sometimes the things our partners do can escape our notice—like mowing the lawn (yours and your elderly neighbor’s!) and monitoring the monthly budget. Want to really appreciate your other half? Trade tasks for a week. Frankly, I’ll take the dishes over the lawn mower any day.

Make time to do new things together. My husband is a homebody, so this is a challenge, but when we do manage to find something different to do together, we find new ways to appreciate each other. It might take some brainstorming to break out of the routine rut, but it’s worth it.

Commit random acts of kindness. The other day I had to go to the store and pick up my husband’s prescription—and I was a little crabby about it. I mean, why couldn’t he go? I work just as hard as he does. (Yes, sometimes I have to go back to “appreciation and respect.”) So I surprised him with a box of ice cream sandwiches that he’s really been enjoying lately.

And it doesn’t have to be gifts, of course. There’s a book a lot of folks talk about called The 5 Love Languages, and it talks about how there are different ways that people give love and feel loved. It pays to spend a little time thinking about what most makes your partner feel loved, and extend the extra effort to really give them what they need. (And if your partner is missing the mark on what you need, go back to “check your communication!”)

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

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