10 Essential Habits All Couples Need To Do To Build A Strong Relationship

Know your strengths and areas for growth to make your relationship rock-solid.

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Marriage is a lot of work, and a strong relationship is built on trust, love, and communication. All three are necessary in any healthy relationship.

While every couple is different and has distinct needs, there are still some basic "rules" couples can follow to make sure they're finding new ways to improve their relationship with each other.

Here are 10 essential habits all couples need to do to build a strong relationship

1. Communicate clearly and transparently

Explicit communication is clear and transparent. Implied communication, on the other hand, is an assumption that the other person “should” know what the other person wants.


Never assume your partner knows what you want or what you mean. Instead, ask for what you want directly, without skirting the issue with passive-aggressive comments or dodgy answers. It’s not a guessing game.

Never assume you know what your partner wants, either. Ask them questions and check things out. It's all part of clear and concise communication.



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2. Connect with your partner

A connection is how emotionally close you feel to your partner. For women, especially, feeling connected often leads to physical intimacy. Men tend to be the opposite; for most guys, physical intimacy leads to feeling connected.

Sometimes people pick a fight to connect with the other person because they don't know how else to feel connected. The love is still there, but the person doesn’t know how to ask for it.

Think about when you feel connected to your person. You may greet them at the door or leave a love note on their pillow. You may call to check in during the day “just because.” You may give them a sweet kiss before they leave for work in the morning.

3. Understand that you both have different needs

You need to negotiate to meet your and your partner's individual needs.


Some couples will create an argument subconsciously to give themselves some room. Distance allows them to have some healthy "me" space. But that's not what couples with strong relationships do.

Instead, it's best to ask for what you need. It’s normal for couples not to have the same needs, so be sure to carry this mindset in your partnership.

10 Essential Habits All Couples Need To Do To Build A Strong RelationshipPhoto: Вальдемар / Pexels


4. Don't lose yourself in the relationship

You may experience a loss of self in your relationship, especially when you begin to put the needs of your partner before yourself and your own interpersonal relationships. This is more common when couples marry young and don’t fully have their own individual identities, but it can happen in any relationship, at any age.

A healthy relationship is about two people honoring what individually fulfills them. This means giving yourself and your partner downtime in the form of personally rejuvenating activities.

Read a book, watch TV, or maybe have lunch with a friend. Go to the movies or out to dinner, take a walk to calm and rejuvenate yourself while you let your partner do the same. Remember that you're an individual person outside of your relationship.

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5. Spend time together

Carve out time just for the two of you. Make this a priority, because if you don’t carve this time out, it won’t happen. Go on a date no less than every two weeks. If it’s less frequent than two weeks, you lose most of your connection.

Date time is when you tune out the rest of the world, including the kids. "Family time" is not the same as couples' time. The point is to reconnect as a couple, not as mom and dad.

A couple needs to play together. Focus on each other. That means no talking about the kids, no talking about work, and no discussing the upcoming monthly bills! Do some of the things you did when you first started dating. Those activities can work again. Notice if you feel any more connected to your partner by the end of the date.



6. Be on the same page with common goals

Making sure you both are on the same page does not come out of power or control. Rather, it means you have each other’s best interests in mind.


Examples include one parent picking up the kids for soccer games when the other can't, or helping your partner get tasks done. It means doing the dishes so your partner can take care of the children, or taking on an extra project to help things move along smoothly.

You can help with house projects or meet life challenges together. Because you are a team, and your goals should mirror that.

7. Learn which love languages you both need

Each of us prefers a particular method to express our love for the other person. Usually, you'll only register “feeling loved” if that person employs the same way of expressing their love for you.

However, the other person may have a different love language, which could create a disconnect.


According to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of "The 5 Love Languages," those love languages are: physical touch, words of affirmation or appreciation, receiving gifts, acts of service, and quality time.

Men want to feel appreciated and that they can make women happy. Women want to feel understood and valued. So, expressing your love in the language of your partner, rather than in your love language, is one of the most important habits all couples need to do to build a strong relationship.



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8. Demonstrate your trust and respect for one another

Feeling emotionally safe and secure in the relationship is extremely important! Each partner must demonstrate mutual respect, dignity, and trust. You have each other’s “back.” There is no betrayal or emotional, verbal, or physical abuse.

Learn about the other person and respect them; don't use blame. If one partner feels hurt, the other immediately apologizes even if they don’t agree that the act was hurtful.

It's not about being right or wrong. It’s about demonstrating mutual respect for one another. It’s essential to try to understand the perspective of the other person.


9. Watch out for common pitfalls

Each partner waiting for the other to change first is an example of a common pitfall in relationships. Another is not demonstrating positive intention and effort so you both feel safe.

Each partner needs to make an effort that doesn’t depend upon the initiative of the other person. When this happens, one partner might attribute a negative intention in general to the other's words and actions.

This intention becomes a filter through which you experience your partner and can negatively color what is occurring. Be sure that you're not confusing a past event with the present regarding an unresolved issue. Focus on what is right, rather than what is wrong.

10 Essential Habits All Couples Need To Do To Build A Strong RelationshipPhoto: Katerina Holmes / Pexels


10. Remember that relationships are work

Relationships are like a greenhouse. You have especially chosen your flowers and plants because they are appealing to you and give you joy. But just like a greenhouse, relationships need loving care, hard work, and maintenance to flourish. They need nourishment to grow. Stop this maintenance and you get weeds.

So, if you don’t water the garden, your relationship will begin to grow weeds. Determine as a couple where your strengths and weaknesses lie and where you can improve things. What would you like from your partner? Remember, it's not about being right or wrong. Avoid passing blame to one another.

Finally, sit down together and discuss this. Come up with a plan of action on how to utilize some of these concepts and activities so you can have a healthy relationship going forward where both partners' needs are being met.

Give specific examples for each issue you discover and talk about it together. Determine an action plan for those areas needing improvement, but don't forget to celebrate your strengths and improvements, too.


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Susan Saint-Welch LMFT is a couples and individuals counselor and psychotherapist who works with dating, marriage, and family issues. She's a regular contributor to Life and Relationships 101, helping men and women find lasting love.