How do you interact with your SO? If you guys have a good relationship dynamic, then you likely communicate well, squash arguments in a healthy way, and always make time for each other. (All good things.) But if you and your partner are strugglin' along, it might feel like some unhealthy vibes are afoot.
Apart from making for a bumpy coupledom, this feeling can, quite obviously, lead to a slew of other problems. "Some couples will live in emotional disconnect for a long time, but this is very unhealthy and leads to depression, anxiety, or physical ailments," says New York-based couples therapist Irina Firstein, LCSW, in an email to Bustle.
Fixing a bad relationship dynamic, before it gets out of hand, is a really good idea. So you'll be happy to know that it doesn't necessarily require grand, sweeping changes. Often all it takes are a few simple tweaks to how you guys interact, as well as a few healthier habits. Making the changes can mean a healthier relationship, as well as one that is far more fulfilling.
Sound good? Then read on for some things you guys can do to get things back on track. The tips below only take ten minutes, but can really make all the difference in the world.
1. Actually Text Them Back
If your SO texts or calls, call them back. And do so quickly, Firstein says. This tip holds true for couples who just started dating, as well as those who have been together forever. Of course, don't stress out if you're truly busy or can't look at your phone. But if you see a text come through, give your SO the courtesy of a swift response. It will show them that you care and that their needs are your priority.
2. Schedule A Quick Check-In
This one will come in handy if you guys live together, but can be nice for other couples, too. All you gotta do is set aside ten minutes for a quick check-in. "Marriage counselors increasingly suggest that formal check-ins could strengthen the bond between partners," said lifestyle writer Brigitt Earley on Real Simple. "Weekly meetings — one to talk about household responsibilities and another dedicated to more intimate issues — may help both partners feel more validated, respected, and comfortable."
3. Make It A Point To Do Something Sweet
If you want to make your partner happy as can be, then do little things that let them know you're thinking of them, Firstein tells me. Does your partner require coffee to wake up in the morning? Do they melt with love and adoration when you show up with takeout? If yes, make it point to do these things more often — especially if you feel like your relationship needs a boost.
4. Be The One To Say You're Sorry
It takes a pretty big dose of maturity to say sorry, but Firstein tells me a willingness to do so is a great way to improve your relationship dynamic. It doesn't mean you have to accept fault, or "lose" the argument. It does mean clearing the air, however, and being willing to talk about things in a calmer fashion.
5. Plan Yourelves A Date Night
A survey from the National Marriage Project showed that couples who made time for each other — like during date nights — were about 3.5 times more likely to report being happy in their relationship, according to Earley. I'm going to go ahead and chalk this up to undivided attention, which is something that's tough to come by on normal, date-less days.
6. Show 'Em Some Affection
Is there anything better than when your SO reaches over to hold your hand, or leans in for a quick kiss? I don't think so, and that's why showing affection is such an important (and easy) way to improve your relationship dynamic, Firstein tells me. It really can be as easy as that.
7. Do Something Nice For Yourself
You can't expect to be a good partner if you don't take care of yourself, according to editor Julie Gerstein on StyleCaster.com. So go ahead and take ten minutes to do whatever you like. Drink some tea, go for a run, play a video game — whatever feels necessary. If you have this "me time" on the regular, you'll be much clearer headed when it comes to your relationship.
8. Have Yourselves Some Alone Time
It doesn't matter if you guys have sex for ten minutes or two hours — just be sure to set aside that alone time. "Couples who do the deed at least once a week report the greatest relationship satisfaction, according to a recent study," said Earley.
9. Quit Focusing On Your Phone
If you're constantly half in a convo with your SO in person, and half in a convo with your friend via text, then don't be surprised if your partner feels put out. "Turn your phone off when talking to your partner," Firstein says. And witness as all sorts of communication and relationship problems fall away.
10. Do His Or Her Chores
According to a Pew Research Center survey, sharing chores ranks third on a list of nine items common to successful marriages. The two items ahead of it? Good sex and faithfulness. So clearly helping each other out with chores is much appreciated, and the key to a better relationship.
11. Let Them Know You Appreciate Them
"Express appreciation and gratitude for what they do and ... bring [to] your life," Firstein says. Maybe this means thanking them for the times they made morning coffee or brought home takeout. Or, it might just mean telling them how happy they make you. (Aww.)
It's amazing how just ten minutes can really improve your relationship dynamic, so I say give it a try.
Images: Pexels (11); Unsplash, Priscilla Westra