Improving happiness in a struggling relationship can not only be difficult, but it can also be upsetting because of what it may mean about you and the other person in the relationship.

Whether starting a new year and looking for improvements or a new relationship, many people will ask “what are the keys to having a happy and healthy long term relationship?” Obviously, every relationship is as unique as the people in it, but there are things you can do, and just as important things to avoid doing, which will continue to build your relationship instead of jeopardizing it.

Sorting through all the advice we have read and all the things we have been told, we took them, sorted them and asked not only our relationship experts but couples who were truly happy in their relationships for their thoughts. We wanted to give you down to Earth, actual human advice on what it takes to have that “one in a million” relationship which is perfect for you and your partner. Here is what we found on improving happiness in your relationship.

In the Game of Life, Be Your Partner’s Biggest Fan

There are many components that make up a person’s happiness. Taking that into a relationship, if each party is solely looking at fulfilling the aspects of what makes them individually happy, their relationship will suffer. It’s about personal growth, together as a couple. The happiness most desire in their relationships steams from overcoming challenges and obstacles together and experiencing the thrills of victory and achievement together. Supporting and rooting for each other is important in all your endeavours. Remember, improving happiness in your relationship starts on an individual level before the couple can grow together.

Ask Better Questions

Our routines run our lives. Through the activities we do to how we interact with each other, our routines can have us talking but not communicating. Change up how you speak to each other and this can start by simply asking better questions.

For instance, at the end of the day, instead of asking the standard “How was your day?” ask a question that shows you actually care about the answer. ‘What made you laugh the hardest today?’ or ‘Was there a point today when you felt alone?’ or ‘What was your biggest personal victory today?

Concentrate on the Friendship, Not the Romance

For decades, Hollywood has glorified the romantic aspects of relationships. It has certainly altered what people expect from a long-term relationship now, which is unfortunate and sad. Ironically the partnerships with the most passion after years and years of togetherness are those who have a strong and undying friendship.

It’s not about the sex so much as it is about the way their level of undying commitment, their endless support of each other, the way they laugh at each other’s jokes and forgive each other’s wrongdoings. The thing that makes an amazing best friend is what also makes an amazing partner. Add in the romance and you take it to the next level. (We tend to do it backward in our society, we start with the sex, then panic, and try to add in the friendship, which rarely works.)

Improving Happiness in Your Relationship with Alura Lux

It’s Not About Who Won

Thinking just because you are in love you will never have disagreements or arguments will set yourself up for disappointment. The fact is disagreements are going to happen. The key here is how you handle them. You and your partner should be on the same team and while you may have different perspectives on an issue, your goal should be to resolve the issue and move forward. All too often couples have the perception they must “win” the argument and that mindset is never good for the relationship.

Seek to Understand

If you’re having a hard time playing on the same team, stop fighting and instead try to understand why your partner is upset. Typically what’s being talked about isn’t the real issue. People are inherently bad at being vulnerable, especially in threatening situations. Be willing to ask sincere questions. Let the answers sink in.

If she is complaining that you’re spending too much time at work, maybe the real issue is that she misses you, and wants to feel connected with you. Come home early one day, and surprise her with a date, or some special one-on-one time. Reassure her that she, and your relationship, are a priority for you. If you don’t want that same issue to arise again, keep investing in the solution.

Take Care of Yourself

The happiest couples always consisted of two emotionally healthy and independently happy individuals. These people practiced self-love. They treated themselves with the same type of care that they treated their partner, or at least they tried to. Emotionally healthy people know how to forgive, they are able to acknowledge their part in any disagreement or conflict and take responsibility for it. They are self-aware enough to be assertive, to pull their weight, and to give love when it’s most difficult.

Build on Trust Every Day

Trust is a major part of any successful relationship and it is something that must be earned. Trust is vital for stability so there does not have to be any worry about sabotage or one person undermining the other. You should be each other’s biggest advocates and the trust that is established is built over time through actions, not words. It’s day after day after day of fidelity, service, emotional security, reliability that establishes the proper trust foundation.

Create Fun Memories

This is the icing on the cake. There’s a difference between the couple who drives through the rainstorm and the couple who pulls their car to the side of the road to make out in the rain. There’s a difference between the couple who kisses for 10 seconds or longer when they say goodbye to each other rather than just giving each other a peck…or nothing at all.

There’s a difference between the couples who encourage each other to pursue their personal goals at the expense of their own discomfort or inconvenience, even if it means their partner has to stage kiss another woman. The couples who try on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection, or create a fun memory are the couples who shattered all perceptions of what is possible in a loving relationship.

Just Be Nice To Each Other

Seriously. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t call names. Don’t take jabs. Don’t try to hurt the other person. Argue naked if it helps, but just be kind and civil and respectful. It doesn’t have to be difficult for improving happiness in your relationship. While it may sound silly, but it’s the truth. It will prevent so many bad things from happening.