Therapists can agree that keeping your relationship happy and healthy takes work. The daily small gestures to make the other person feel validated and secure and the bigger actions that resolve conflicts and regain peace. 15 therapists at Cityscape Counseling in Chicago weigh in with their advice and guidance on keeping your relationship nurtured, healthy, and growing.

1. “Praise your partner’s positive qualities before asking them to change a behavior you experience as negative. They will be more receptive to your feedback if you start with praise.”

Chelsea Hudson, LCPC

2. “When faced with stressful situations, remind each other that you’re on the same team. View the stressor as the enemy, not your partner.”

– Bari Rothfeld-Spurgeon, LCSW, CADC

3. “Ask and communicate about love languages. Speak each others love languages. Observe and pay attention to how your partner gives love to get a sense of what they would like to receive.” 

-Dani Parmacek, LCPC, R-DMT

4. “Go on dates, have a designated time (without phones/work/distraction) to talk/connect, have both solo and shared hobbies/interests.“

-Clare Wierzel, LCPC

5. “A regularly scheduled “date night” to check in about the emotional health of the relationship.” 

-Chelsea Dillavou, LCSW

6. “If you are sexually active as a couple and feel as if your sexual experiences have become dull, repetitive, routine, or just plain boring, then communication about this first is key. If there is a mutual agreement regarding the staleness of your sex life, I recommended the incorporation of sensory items into your sexual experiences. This may include using scented oils or lotions, having a sultry playlist prepared, dimming the lights, or bringing candy or edible undergarments into the bedroom. Engaging your senses keeps you grounded in the present moment allowing you to be mindful and enjoy your time instead of feeling distracted by thoughts regarding the past or future.”

-Jillian Ross, LCSW

7. “Practice taking some time (even a few minutes!) before communicating your emotions with your partner when you feel a confrontation coming on. Bigger arguments happen when we are reactive versus times when we’ve taken a beat to know why we are upset.”

-Sierra Petersen, LCSW

8. “My top piece of advice for couples to maintain a healthy relationship is to discuss everything as it comes up rather than waiting. For example, if one partner is planning a weekend getaway with friends, the other partner would benefit from knowing about this right away so they can be aware and possibly involved in the planning process, rather than hearing about the trip the week before it happens. This shows a high level of respect for the other partner, and demonstrates that the couple is working together as a team.”

-Nicole Bentley, LCSW

9. “Schedule uninterrupted time together at least one to two times per week. Pick a day and make it part of your routine. This time is SO important!”

-Jaclyn Feldman, LCSW

10. “Communicate when and how you naturally want to. Don’t get caught up in waiting for the other person to reach out or bring up a topic first. This isn’t a game and there is no winning if you treat it like one. If you’re in a bad mood, tell your partner rather than waiting for the mood to show them you’re not okay.  Don’t call your partner names, even in your head; this causes you to assume their intentions and view them in a negative light. This helps keep your relationship happy and healthy.”

-Jennifer Klesman, LCSW

11. “Learn about Gottman’s four horsemen and stick to “I statements,” Take accountability for your own emotions and work to understand your partner’s attachment and communication styles. Say what you mean! Direct communication – no mind reading. Give the benefit of the doubt and start by assuming your partner is doing the best they can.”

-Bridget Montgomery, LPC

12. “Working on communication is important and an on-going practice with listening being an important part. Try to listen with the intention to hear what the other person is saying, versus listening to respond. When you listen with the intention for your partner to be heard, it creates an opportunity for you to be open to hearing all of what they want to say and the possibility to shift your perspective on the situation.”

-Aisha Robinson, LCPC

13. “Sit at the table without your phones and enjoy a meal together while catching up on your days. Because life gets so busy, be intentional about setting up date nights or afternoons.”

-Dr. Abby Brown, PsyD

14. “Honesty, authenticity, and perspective-taking. Relationships are our greatest mirrors. They will shed light on our childhood wounds that likely still need some healing and when both parties approach it from their healthiest adult selves, true healing CAN take place.”

-Jessica Dattalo, LCSW

15. “Make sure to plan regular date nights. This can help with keeping things exciting and fun in your relationship.”

-Megan Lappa, LCSW

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