A Couples' Therapist Reveals 5 Tiny Ways To Strengthen Your Relationship

by Sydnee Lyons

You know how people are always obsessed with the latest diet fad? Surely, this one is going to change their lives, revolutionize their healthy-eating habits, and give them enough energy to do more than just binge-watch a Netflix original series over the weekend. Well, that's kind of how I feel about dating hacks that promise to solve all of my relationship problems overnight. They're just not realistic. I don't know how to have a better relationship. If I did, I probably wouldn't be single.

What I do know is that if you're having relationship problems, there's no easy fix. Relationships are a lot of work. You won't be able to sit back and go with the flow — not if you want things to work out, that is. You'll need to take control of your relationship, speak up about what you want and need out of it, and fight for it when things get difficult. It's not just about you, either. Your partner's needs are equally as important as your own and it's crucial that you work together to make the relationship a comfortable and supportive environment for you both.

It may not always be quick and easy but there are things you can do to improve your relationship, experts say. I turned to Dr. Carolina Castaños, a clinical psychologist who specializes in marriage and family therapy, and the founder of MovingOn, a program designed to help heal broken hearts , for her suggestions.

Say "Thank You"

If your love language is words of affirmation, you know how important this is. Everyone likes knowing that they're loved and appreciated so make sure you're communicating this to your partner on a daily basis. You're never too busy to tell someone that their presence in your life makes a difference. Dr. Castaños says, "Notice what your partner does as a way of expressing their love for you. Allow yourself to feel the love and appreciation, and let them know how you feel by saying thank you." They need to hear it.

Do Simple But Thoughtful Things To Show You Care

Grand, romantic gestures look great on TV, where the budget is probably more than you'll make in a year at your student job. Luckily, you can still show your partner you care without dipping into your college tuition. Leaving a cute note on the bathroom mirror for them to read before they head out or bringing them their favorite Starbucks drink before an early class will definitely help them feel the love.

Talk About Your Day And Ask About Theirs

You probably already do this without noticing but make an extra effort to really communicate with your partner in the future. Dr. Castaños recommends setting aside a few minutes every day to talk about the day's highs — the things that made you happiest — and lows —the things you struggled with. Unknowingly, this becomes a more vulnerable exchange that will bring you and your partner closer together.

Check In With Them When They Have Something Important Going On

This doesn't always have to be something major like a family emergency. It can be as simple as a doctor's appointment or a stressful midterm. If it's something that's important to them, note it on your calendar as well. Wish them luck ahead of time and ask them how everything went afterward.

Don't Walk Away In The Middle Of An Argument

All couples fight. The real relationship test is how you and your partner handle it. According to Dr. Castaños, strong couples are the ones that take a step back to assess the root of the problem. Her advice? "Slow down and think about what is really happening. Ask yourself what made you upset. Maybe you felt insignificant or rejected, which means that your partner's love is important to you. Pushing them away will not help." When you and your partner have calmed down, you should both try to see things from the other person's perspective so that you can come up with a solution that works for the two of you. This is the only way to move forward.

Your relationship won't work if you don't. As soon as you recognize areas in your relationship that could be stronger, you should bring them up with your partner so that you can start working on a solution together. In the meantime, keep doing these tiny things to remind the person you care about most exactly how you feel.

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