7 Ways To Take Your Relationship From Good To Great In No Time

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happy couple

Don't settle for less when you can create so much more.

Let’s face it! Relationships are hard work. The mere fact that careers have been birthed from the difficulty of relationships really underscores how difficult they are (i.e. marriage therapists, divorce attorneys, relationship bloggers, etc.). No matter if you were matched by your best friend, E-Harmony, or Tinder, the real work begins with you and your spouse, not the “experts” pairing you together. But of course, you knew this.

The “experts” didn’t tell you that your spouse snores heavily at night. They also didn’t tell you your spouse never had a positive figure to model how to be the spouse you seek long-term? And I’m sure they didn’t tell you that although you’re a nice person with an expensive education and a great career, you’re still going to hurt your spouse and your relationship in the process.

Of course not! But how could they? They aren’t an expert on you or your spouse.

RELATED: 11 Ways To Be Happier & More In Love (Without Trying To Change Your Partner)

If you are planning to be in a relationship at some point, recently started a new relationship, or just trying to get your relationship back on track, here are 7 tips to ensure a great relationship:

1. Remember that your relationship is constantly evolving. 

Just like technology and the world around you are constantly evolving and upgrading, so are you and your spouse's needs in the relationship. And since relationships are built on committing to meet each other’s needs, your relationship is in a constant state of evolution. 

So when tough times arise as a result of unmet needs and expectations, remember this is not the way the relationship will be forever unless you both refuse to work on the marriage. Communicate your needs and, if necessary, seek guidance from trained professionals.

2. Make it OK for both of you to grow individually.

It’s not uncommon to hear a spouse share they feel their partner has “changed.” Well, so has the NFL, iPhone, and the internet. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Change is the only constant.” In addition to the rest of the world, that also applies to you and your spouse.

The only issue with both people evolving is when neither of you communicates your new needs and expectations or come to a mutual agreement on how they will be met. This is partly why communication is so important in a relationship.

Here’s a relationship mantra to embrace: The couple that evolves together stays together.

3. Reaffirm your commitment regularly to "fuel" your relationship.

Like your favorite vehicle, your relationship has an engine as well. And when there is no engine or there’s a damaged engine, you’re stuck. The question begins to creep into your mind about trading in your car, or your spouse in this case, for another one.

When you both fail to commit to the needs and expectations of each other, what is the point of your relationship? You don’t have to be a perfect spouse in the relationship; you just have to commit to being the best spouse you can be for each other.

4. Don't compare your relationship to others.

You ever realize that once you buy a new car, you begin to see others just like yours everywhere you go? No matter how many cars with the exact same make and model you see, each one has a unique key that makes it start. Your relationship is much the same way.

Despite how many couples you know, whether it’s your parents’, best friend’s, or the Obamas’ marriage, what makes each relationship work is its own unique key. Therefore, don’t get caught up comparing your relationship to anyone else’s. Commit to spending the time and energy to create the key for your relationship to thrive.

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5. Eradicate fear and pain from your relationship.

Imagine going to a job where there’s a high risk of physical or emotional trauma intertwined with persisting and throbbing pain from current and past work conditions. No matter what you do, it’s the same daily grind of working in fear of more pain. Now imagine that this is what your partner is experiencing in the relationship with you.

In those conditions, how likely is it that love, respect, appreciation, and support can exist? Unfortunately, spouses don’t come with pain or fear meters where you can read just how bad they feel. Make sure you and your spouse create an environment where you both can be vulnerable and express your feelings.

6. Be a relationship-pleaser, not a people-pleaser.

People-pleasing is the inability to say “no” and putting others’ needs before your own at your own physical, emotional, social, financial, and maybe even spiritual expense. And this can be detrimental to your relationship.

However, if both of you commit to prioritizing the needs of the relationship (i.e. love, respect, appreciation, and support) because of its value to you, then you have a balanced and healthier relationship. Relationship-pleasing is the collaborative ability to balance saying both “no” and “yes” while ensuring the success of your relationship.

Make it difficult for outside people and circumstances to damage your marriage.

7. Give your relationship an identity and purpose.

A relationship without a purpose is like going to college without a major. You think it’s a great idea until you realize you’re spending lots of money, time, and energy without feeling fulfilled.

Although, your relationship should be fun and exciting, it should also have a larger purpose than just something you do because you’re a certain age or because you don’t want to be lonely.

Create a larger identity and purpose for your relationship. Perhaps, if your relationship is headed towards marriage, you both could develop a relationship mission statement.

Take ownership of the health of your relationship much you like you would the health of a small child. It won’t always be clear what is negatively affecting it, but neither of you should just give up because you don’t understand.

Remember that neither of you can escape the ebbs and flows of your relationship any more than a beach can escape the ebbs and flows of the tide. Learn to see the beauty of it, and embrace it.

Lastly, your relationship is largely what you both make it and should be a representation of you both. Take pride in your relationship. Allow your relationship to be a source of inspiration for other couples. And reap the benefits of your hard work for the many years to come.

RELATED: If You Want Your Relationship To Last, Stop Doing These 6 Things

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Dr. Eric A. Williams is a counselor and marriage and family therapist specializing in both interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships who helps individuals and couples reconnect with their inner selves, as well as their partner. Contact him today to set up a face-to-face or telemental health counseling session so that he can “walk alongside” you, ensuring both personal and professional success.