The health of our relationships affects our physical and mental health in ways we might never expect. Healthy relationships have been linked to better physical and mental health, while unhealthy relationships have been linked to higher levels of stress, which contribute to a weakened immune system and an increase in blood pressure.
An in-depth study conducted over a period of 7.5 years found that people in healthy relationships had a 50% greater likelihood of survival regardless of age, sex or initial health status, a statistic that exceeds many other high-risk health factors.1
So, what’s the secret to healthy relationships? There’s more to it than love! Here are 7 tips for building healthy relationship habits every day.
1. Strive for Relationship Balance
Do you often find yourself putting the needs of your partner before your own? When you care about someone, that’s easy to do. But you can’t forget about yourself. Maintaining a sense of balance is vital to the health of your relationships.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “if you don’t love yourself, it’s difficult to truly care for another person”—and there may be some truth here. A balanced relationship includes maintaining your individuality and having your needs met as often as your partner’s. It includes giving each other mutual respect, being kind and supportive, and celebrating each other’s independent accomplishments.
It also means showing yourself some love by enjoying hobbies of your own, trying new and interesting things, and making time to do what makes you happiest. Read 16 Ways to Scare Yourself Every Day for some amazing ideas and activities you can enjoy both alone and together.
2. Deal with Conflicts and Move On
Conflicts left unresolved can build up over time. And holding on to negative feelings long after a conflict can cause unnecessary stress for you both. Handle conflicts by dealing with the issue at hand instead of resorting to the silent treatment, attacking each other or holding grudges. After the issue is resolved, let it go and move on.
- the silent treatment
- attacking each other (verbally or physically)
- holding grudges
- “you...” statements casting blame, accusing or assuming, or making our partners feel defensive or resentful
- calm, focused discussion on the issue
- time-outs to diffuse heated discussions and refocus on the issue
- “I” statements that avoid blame and make us take responsibility for what we are thinking and feeling
- moving on after a resolution, and understanding that “resolved” means agreed upon
Read 6 Basic Relaxation Tips for some tips that may help during a time-out session.
3. Reserve ‘Fixing’ & ‘Controlling’ for the To-Do List & TV Remote
It’s true that we all have room to grow, but it’s important to grow together instead of trying to change or control each other. Focus on supporting each other as you work to achieve your own, individual goals as well as your goals as a couple. Having someone you love intent on trying to change you isn’t a pleasant feeling. Accepting each other as you are, “flaws” included, and growing together fosters a much healthier relationship.
4. Take Happiness into Your Own Hands
Happiness really does come from within. Other people cannot take responsibility for your happiness, and outside circumstances will come and go. True happiness is directly related to your mindset. Take responsibility for cultivating your own happiness and your relationship will be happier too.
- find ways to be happy despite external circumstances you can’t control
- try making an ‘I’m Thankful For’ list each day, meeting weekly to talk with an uplifting friend, or keeping a gratuity bank by writing things you’re grateful for on slips of paper and putting them into a jar to read again on a rainy day
- take responsibility for your own happiness by exploring a new hobby or sport if you feel bored or restless
Get a fresh start on your way to health and happiness with these 5 Ways to Detox Your Mind and Body.
5. Take Self-Care Time for Each of You
No matter how much you enjoy spending time together, your relationship will be healthier if you take some time to care for yourself. That self-care time may come in the form of an energizing morning routine to help kick-start your day, time at the gym, a nice long soak in the bath paired with a good book, or something else entirely (see more tips in 6 Ways to Take Care of Yourself).
Make caring for yourself a healthy habit, and make sure you both get enough of the right vitamins, minerals and nutrients from real, wholesome foods to stay healthy. Fill nutrition gaps with vitamins made from real food sources like our Real Food Multi for Women or Real Food Multi for Men.
6. Share Feelings Openly & Honestly (with Kindness)
Being able to trust your partner with your feelings is an important factor in a healthy relationship. Sharing emotions with a supportive partner builds trust, relieves stress and helps you feel stronger and better prepared to deal with the trials that life may bring.
Show each other how much you care by providing a supportive, safe space to share emotions openly and honestly without criticism. And hug each other often to release feel-good hormones like oxytocin, which can help lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate and aid stress reduction.2
7. Agree to Disagree
In any relationship, there are just some things that you won’t agree on. Instead of arguing about who is right or trying to convince the other person to change his or her mind, why not just agree to disagree? Respect the fact that you are both unique individuals with your own opinions. Sometimes preferences differ, and that’s often okay.
If your disagreements are about major issues, you may need a different approach to resolve the conflict. However, a lot of minor disagreements and unnecessary stress can be avoided just by agreeing to disagree.
Healthy Relationships for Healthy Lives
Keeping your relationships healthy takes effort and building positive relationship habits takes time. But the payoff is worth it—you’re both more likely to be happier, healthier, less stressed, and you may even live longer!
How do you keep your relationship healthy? Share your tips on healthy relationship habits below.
You may also enjoy reading Ways to Support Passion and Sexual Health. If you’re looking for more wellness tips from A to Z? Check out our full Swanson Health’s A-Z Guide to Modern Wellness here. Also, be sure to sign up for Swanson Health emails to get expert advice and our best promotions delivered to your inbox.
1 Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-Analytic Review. PLOS Medical Journal. http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316 (Accessed 12/28/2017)
2 More frequent partner hugs and higher oxytocin levels are linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate in premenopausal women. PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15740822 (Accessed 12/28/2017)
3 The health benefits of strong relationships. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/the-health-benefits-of-strong-relationships (Accessed 12/28/2017)
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Originally posted 02/21/2018, updated 02/13/2019