10 Amazing Ways to Help Your Relationship Grow Stronger

ways to help your relationship grow man and woman sitting on a log laying over a river in the woods middle class dad

Anyone in a serious relationship dreams of having it last. But if our relationship is stuck or stagnant, we often search for ways to help your relationship grow.

Here’s how I’ve grown my marriage:

The ways to make a relationship grow healthily include:

  1. Making yourself happy and not looking to others for happiness
  2. Focusing on appreciation more than expectations
  3. Giving your relationship time, energy, and focus
  4. Learning how to argue without belittling one another

But there’s a lot more to growing a relationship than just that.

In this post, we’re exploring how to create and grow everlasting love. We’ll look at some of the best long-lasting relationship tips.

Specifically, we’ll explore the best ways to ways to help your relationship grow.

How can couples grow stronger?

Like anything worth doing, a marriage or relationship takes time, effort, and focus.

No matter how smooth it’s going, you don’t want to just coast and hang out in the comfort zone. That leads to complacency and eventually to taking one another for granted. It’s also the enemy of growth.

We don’t grow in anything by putting in minimal time or effort. Relationships are no different. So just like learning an art, or riding a bike, we have to work at it, little by little, every day.

So the best things couples can do to grow their relationship include:

  • Spend time connecting every week – Put the phones down, turn the TV off, and just talk, sip a glass of wine by the fire, or go for a walk
  • Trade your expectations for appreciationTony Robbins said that and what he meant was when we expect something from others, we’re not only placing an unrealistic expectation on them, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. Instead, simply appreciate them for who they are
  • Take an interest in them and their passions Successful couples have shared interests and individual interests. Take an interest in your partner’s life, passions, and interests. Encourage them to follow their dreams
  • Own your mistakes – Nothing builds resentment faster than someone who constantly blames others or never takes responsibility for their actions and mistakes. While it may feel like apologizing is giving away power, you actually gain it exponentially, drawing your spouse closer every time
  • Don’t smother – I still recall my first wife telling me “wouldn’t it be great if we were the only people left and could spend every waking moment together?” At the time I thought it was sweet. But in reality, it was co-dependent and smothering. Like a fire, a relationship has to space to ignite and stay lit. If you smother it in wood, it will surely go out.

How do I make my relationship fun again?

Most relationships start out fun.

But then over time, life has a way of robbing us of the joy, passion, and excitement we felt at the start of the relationship. After all, as we get older, and our relationship matures, this often leads to:

  • Career paths and promotions
  • Kids
  • Bigger and bigger financial decisions like buying a home

Those things are all great. But they take time, energy, and focus away from our relationship. While it’s understandable, it is important that we find ways to keep the fun alive.

So even in the face of becoming more adult, we have to make time for each other and look for ways to keep the sense of fun and spontaneity alive.

Here are some proven ways to do that:

  • Break your routines – Routines help us get organized and deal with a busy schedule without going crazy. But they can make relationships boring. Surprise each other with an impromptu date night or even flowers for no special occasion. Keep them guessing.
  • Put the phones down – Technology is great (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this). But left unchecked, many of us can easily veg out close to our partner but completely disconnected. Have set tech-free times or days or just an agreement that we aren’t on phones at certain times
  • Share your dreams – Goals are a dry list of things we check off a list. But dreams get our imagination running. So talk about dreams with your partner and see what you have in common. While it’s then great to set about making those a goal (and baby steps to get there) start with dreams which tap into your emotions
  • Try something new together – Whether it’s yoga, a class, or just regular walks through the neighborhood, try doing something new each week that you do together. It will draw you closer, give you something to talk about, and be stimulating

How do you maintain a healthy relationship?

For starters, finding great ways to help your relationship grow doesn’t mean:

  1. It will always be easy
  2. You won’t ever fight or argue
  3. Your love won’t ebb and flow over time

No; if you can create lasting love, you can bet that you will find that all of those things happen.

After all, lasting love is something that happens between 2 people and ALL people are fallible.

We all make mistakes.

All of us say and do things sometimes that we wish we hadn’t or that we didn’t mean. Thus the first key to help your relationship grow is to be patient and not expect perfection.

We are, by nature, imperfect creatures and thus our marriage and relationships will be imperfect. Even the best relationships can benefit from long-lasting relationship tips.

How do you keep your relationship strong?

There are a million books on marriage.

Some experts talk about different languages of love. A few others talk about how to create a love that lasts. Others suggest that some of us are from another planet when it comes to communicating with our spouse.

I take issue with some of what’s out there because a lot of them make sweeping generalizations and build on stereotypes.

For every woman you show me from “Venus”, I can probably find you a guy or two who fits that shoe as well and plenty of women who don’t.

No, it’s like any other situation.

So when looking for ways to help your relationship grow, accept that you can’t have a 1 size fits all approach where people and emotions are involved.

Thus, I can promise you that doing exactly what I’ve done in my marriage might very well result in some completely different outcomes in yours.

There are, however, some basic ways to help your relationship grow you can apply to yourself as well as your relationship.

If you don’t have a current relationship then they principals you apply will doubtless help make your next relationship better than the last.

You can’t create lasting love without first looking at yourself.

So what are my . . .

10 Amazing Ways to Help Your Relationship Grow Stronger?

1 – Make Yourself Happy

You HAVE to be happy on your own.

oThe person who is miserable who thinks that they just need to find the right person to make them happy is fooling themselves.

They are going to make themselves and everyone around them even more miserable.

A successful relationship is one where 2 complete, well-functioning people come together and create something greater than the sum of the parts.

If you are damaged; suffering from abuse or neglect from past relationships or childhood, you must take steps to work on yourself before you can truly work on the ways to help your relationship grow.

Note: I do not mean you have to be perfect or have your issues completely resolved before entering a relationship. If that was what I meant, I’d be single in a heartbeat.

But I do mean you have to be aware of your issues and be actively taking some steps to address them.

For many, that would be therapy, but for others, it might include meditation, physical activities or prayer. Or D: all of the above!

Whatever it is for you, make sure you’re diligent about its regular practice.

If you struggle, as I have, with learning how to Let Go of the Past (click to read on my site) so it doesn’t destroy my future, I highly recommend you take a moment and review one of my most shared posts on Twitter.

2 – Be aware of your issues

Many people wander this world not even acknowledging the damage inside them.

When we aren’t even aware we’re damaged, what do you think the likelihood is of fixing ourselves? That’s right; not very good.

I also don’t mean that two damaged people can’t come together and work through their respective issues together and come out on the other side. They can; my wife and I are good examples of that.

However, that journey is long, hard, and fraught with times where you might feel like giving up.

But when you do go through that journey together and come out successful, you often find your relationship is stronger than ever.

In short one of the best ways to help your relationship grow is for you to be a happy person on your own and not look to others for happiness or feelings of self-worth.

One of the biggest challenges I faced is finding myself Repeating Destructive Patterns of Behavior (click to read on my site).

If you have seen that in your life too, make sure you review my tips on how to stop the endless destructive cycle. Just click the link to see it now.

3 – Don’t Expect Perfection

As I said above, the “perfect” marriage or relationship doesn’t exist.

People aren’t perfect, ergo marriage isn’t perfect. Thus if you are expecting the relationship to be perfect, you’re in for a rude awakening.

When we expect perfection in ourselves, our mate, and/or our marriage we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.

This is not how to have a long-lasting relationship.

4 – Success and failure is mostly about perspective

Think of yourself as a long-distance runner who just ran 5 miles.

For me, that’s a celebration (since I don’t run a lot). For Kenenisa Bekele, who holds the world record, that would be considered disappointing.

Thus the same outcome can be looked at from more than 1 perspective.

If you beat yourself or your spouse up (figuratively) every time you have an argument or when things break down, you’ll likely come away with the notion that your relationship is in trouble.

Take those same arguments and breakdowns and look at them as opportunities to make your relationship stronger and to be better connected and you’ll come away feeling great.

When things do go awry (and they will), we simply need to analyze what happened.

Put yourself in the shoes of the other person and find some common ground or agreements to move forward on.

Empathy is truly one of the best ways to help your relationship grow.

5 – The terrible danger of the blame game

It’s not even important in most cases to assign blame or figure out who “caused” the fight.

It takes 2 people to make a relationship work and it takes 2 to make it not work.

That’s not to say there aren’t some truly despicable people out there who nice people have inadvertently entered into a relationship with.

There are.

But those instances are truly few and far between.  It’s also not to say there aren’t some behaviors which are more damaging than others. That also is true.

But most of us just want to be loved, respected, supported, and heard.

Most breakdowns happen when we feel like the other isn’t giving us one or more of those things.

To boil it down – Know going into a relationship that you will argue, you will disagree, you will cry and that’s OK and not a sign of failure.

So another of the best ways to help your relationship grow is to accept imperfection.

You CAN save your marriage — even if your spouse says that they want a divorce.

You CAN rebuild that passion you felt for one another when you first kissed. And you can bring back that love and devotion you felt for one another when both of you said, “I love you” for the first time.

6 – Successful Relationships Require Constant Focus

Some schools of thought say things like “marriage is hard work” whereas others imply that if it feels like work then the marriage isn’t working.

In truth, both views are right and wrong.

Marriage is hard work in the sense that anything worth having or doing requires effort, focus, patience, and being willing to learn and grow.

It should not, however, feel like work in a job you hate.

Want to be a black belt martial artist? That requires years of training, hard work, and dedication.

Plan to be a Professor at Harvard? That too requires years of hard work, studying, and applying yourself.

Therefore it’s perfectly acceptable to say that if you want to be a successful husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend you have to work at it.

No skill, result, or task comes without focus, and effort and marriage should not be viewed any differently. So accept that effort will be one of the key ways to help your relationship grow.

7 – When we lose focus on our relationship, that’s when complacency sets in

Maybe we stop paying attention to hygiene, grooming, or other external factors in our self.

Maybe libidos decrease.

Perhaps you and your partner develop separate friends, interests, and eventually separate lives.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not healthy for each person to be 100% part of everything the other does, but it also doesn’t work to live completely separate lives either.

At that point, you are just roommates and that’s when love begins to die if it hasn’t already. So finding balance is one of the long-lasting relationship tips keys to success!

In a nutshell – Anything worth having or doing requires time, effort, work, and patience. Put that into your relationship and it will succeed

8 – Learn How to Argue Correctly

As I said in #2, even the best marriage is going to have arguments.

It is, however, vitally important that we argue and fight the correct way.

Let’s say for example that I left the refrigerated grocery items in my trunk all day in the hot sun and they spoiled.

Frustrating for sure as not only do we have to buy more, but we wasted food, time and money.

If my wife was a jerk (which she’s not), she could berate me, call me names and make me feel dumb for doing that.

I would likely leave the room in tears (being the Clingy  Guy that I am, lol) feeling terrible about myself but also thinking “what an a-hole!”

Alternately if she approached me and said something like “Hey honey, I know you have a lot on your plate but that was a lot of food and money wasted.

I’m really frustrated with why that happened. Are there steps we can take to make sure that doesn’t happen again and what can we cut in the budget so we can replace the groceries we lost?”

In short, there’s a HUGE difference between her yelling & criticizing me as a person and her telling me how my behavior or actions made her feel.

ways to help your relationship grow yelling couple middle class dad

How the same thing can be said 2 completely different ways

In a way, in both examples, she is expressing the same basic feelings.

But in one she’s being verbally abusive and causing potentially irreparable damage to our relationship.

In the other, she’s simply letting me know how disappointed she is this happened but also asking for my suggestions on how to remedy the issue.

Thus when learning the ways to help your relationship grow, figuring out how to argue correctly is crucial!

Also know that in any potentially unpleasant communication, asking questions is almost always better than making statements.

And of course, it goes without saying that if she comes out swinging I’ll get defensive right out of the gate too.

When that happens, we stop listening to one another and just start a tit for tat of trying to one-up each other; completely unproductive and unhealthy behavior.

Thus, learning how to argue is one of the most important of the long-lasting relationship tips.

9 – The crucial importance of avoiding the Four Horsemen!

Renowned marriage expert, author, and researcher Dr. John Gottman has what he calls “The Four Horsemen of conflict (click to read my article which breaks them all down)”:

  • Criticism
  • Contempt
  • Defensiveness
  • Stonewalling

In essence, these are the 4 areas to avoid when arguing or fighting successfully.

Want to find long-lasting relationship tips that really work? Then it’s crucial you avoid these four.

I also highly recommend Gottman’s books, in particular: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (click to read my review of his book).

In short – If you are name-calling, berating or otherwise belittling your spouse when arguing, you are failing to create lasting love (and likely headed for divorce)

10 – Take ownership of your actions and mistakes

So part of learning how to argue in a healthy manner is learning how to take ownership when we screw up.

Taking true ownership of our behavior is one of the best ways to help your relationship grow.

We all make mistakes.  We all screw up. Pretending something was someone else’s fault isn’t clever and doesn’t make you smarter.

When we try and pass the buck it only makes us look like an even bigger jerk.

How I spent years avoiding owning my mistakes

I have been the master of the debate; the one who can twist any situation and apply logic as to why something that was clearly my fault was actually someone else’s.

Guess what?

I wasn’t being clever or being intelligent; I was just being a bully.

Sure I suppose I get points for not intending to be a bully, but the end result was often just that. In those instances, a behavior largely learned from my step-father, I genuinely believed what I was spouting.

But at the end of the day, it’s taken me a long time to really and truly take ownership of my mistakes.

I’m still not perfect at it but it’s something I think about and focus on just about every day.

If you are going to foster and grow the love you have now, taking ownership of your behavior and choices is my #1 way to help your relationship grow.

The pain of taking ownership vs avoiding it

Sometimes we say or do truly terrible things and we wish we hadn’t.

We trick ourselves into thinking its easier to pretend it never happened, lie about it or downplay it. It’s not easier.

While admitting a huge mistake can be hard and may have consequences, it’s nothing compared to keeping it bottled up inside and living with it.

Of course, the type of transgression affects the outcome, but a funny thing happens when we truly offer a heartfelt apology.

It makes us more human. We get stronger; both in ourselves but also in the eyes of others.

This is true whether you’re apologizing to a spouse or your kids or even a subordinate at work. In many ways, there’s nothing more powerful than apologizing.

They know you messed up and all keeping it quiet does is make you look that much weaker.

That’s not to say if you really screwed up they won’t be mad and there won’t be repercussions, but they aren’t apt to be as mad as if you shirked the responsibility in truly owning your behavior.

To sum up – Apologize when you make mistakes, do your best to fix them and take your lumps

How do you save your relationship?

For sure, as I said above, it takes 2 people to not only break a relationship but also to make it.

All the best ways to help your relationship grow won’t work if only 1 person is trying.

If your partner name calls, gives the Silent Treatment (click to read on my site) or doesn’t invest themselves in the relationship there is only so much you can do to fix this.

I do, however, REALLY want you to try and fix things before throwing in the towel.

There has to have been a reason you and they wanted to enter into a relationship. That reason can get diminished over time by life, infidelity, substance abuse, etc.

But whatever it was that created the spark can be nurtured back; it just takes time, patience, love, and effort.

But if there is love still there and the desire to find ways to help your relationship grow, it’s worth the effort in restoring what you had.

Often in these cases, the relationship emerges stronger than it ever was in the first place.

How can I strengthen my relationship?

First things first, you need to simply bring the issue(s) up.

It’s not like your partner is unaware of the diminishing love or tension. Lots of things prevent or delay our ability to bring up issues, but ego and defensiveness are at the top of the list.

No one wants to be the one to admit fault and no one wants to be the first one to extend the olive branch.

But you can’t have it both ways; you get to create lasting love or you get an intact ego.

When you bring it up, it’s vitally important that you’re NOT on a quest for the guilty.

You both have done things to arrive at where you are and the past is the past.  We’re here to talk about the present and plan for the future.

For sure if there are unresolved issues that haven’t ever been fully addressed, those do need to be talked about so the injured can eventually release the pain and move on.

But for now, we’re simply acknowledging the elephant in the room.

But the best long-lasting relationship tips are those that focus on the future and not the past.

How to have a long-lasting relationship

The 5 most important ways to help your relationship grow are:

  1. Communication
  2. Connection
  3. Trust
  4. Be truthful
  5. Being willing to put the needs of your spouse equal with your own

So if one or more of these are missing, first broach the subject and acknowledge the truth about where the relationship is.

Then it’s time to commit to trying to fix it; no promises needed beyond being willing to try some long-lasting relationship tips.

Depending on the depth of the damage and how long it’s been that way, you may well need a good couple’s therapist to help guide you through these troubled waters.

If your partner won’t talk about it, you should get therapy; ideally together but at least on your own.

A good therapist will help guide the two of you through the process and if your partner isn’t willing to participate, the therapist can at least navigate the best way out of the relationship.

If you’ve wondered if Marriage Counseling Can Help (click to read on my site), I strongly urge to check out one of my most shared relationship posts on that very subject.

But it’s ALWAYS worth finding ways to help your relationship grow before throwing in the towel.

The terrible downsides to ending a relationship

In our current day and age, it’s very much in vogue to ditch our relationship at the first sign of trouble, clear out the bank account and move on.

People think that’s the easy way out. It’s not the easy way out by any means.

For starters, when we simply jump ship at the first sign of trouble we often never get to the stage where we acknowledge our own role in the damage to the relationship.

What happens when we don’t take ownership and learn from our mistakes?

That’s right; we repeat them.

Eventually, this leads to a string of failed relationships where the only common denominator is us.

Navigating our way back into a loving, lasting relationship isn’t easy either, but it’s so rewarding, enriching and strengthening.

We, our partner, our marriage, and kids if you have them, all emerge renewed, more well rounded, and with a much deeper sense of connection.

Exiting a relationship should be a last resort when all the long-lasting relationship tips have failed.

Final Thoughts

In this post, we took a detailed look at how to create or build everlasting love. To really take our relationship to the next level.

We explored the biggest pitfalls to avoid and how to restore things when they have faded. Specifically, though, we looked at some proven ways to help your relationship grow and go from good to great!

Don’t look to others for your happiness but also don’t expect perfection. Remember that no one can take advantage of you without your permission.

Make sure to take true ownership when you mess up and be forgiving when your partner messes up. Above all, when you do argue, take issue with your spouse’s choices or words but not them as a person.

When we can’t argue without making our spouse feel bad about themselves that’s a recipe for divorce.

Like anything worth doing, a relationship will take frequent effort, focus, and time; you can’t set it and forget it. But when you get it right it’s so rewarding and unlike anything else, you will ever experience!

Photo credits (that aren’t mine):

Yelling Couple – https://www.flickr.com/photos/59632563@N04/

Jeff Campbell

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