With the stress of the holidays still lingering and a whole new year to psych yourself up for, it’s totally natural to be feeling a little overwhelmed — and that can take a toll on your love life. That’s why it’s so important to take some time to work on your relationship, especially during those early years when your bond is more vulnerable.
“Love is bliss — and then the reality of being in a relationship sets in,” Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. “Sadly, so many couples who start off in love see the demise of their relationship within the first five years.”
Knowing how to strengthen your relationship can be tricky — there’s a lot of advice out there about how your relationship should look, but less about how to get there. “We all know it takes hard work, but the question becomes just what is that work?” Klapow says. “If you want to make your relationship stronger in 2019 then follow the science. Dr. John Gottman has some of the most extensive scientific research areas of relationships, relationship communication and relationship success or failure.”
Using Gottman’s research, Klapow has some advice for making your relationship happier and stronger in 2019. Here’s where you can start.
1. Keep Learning About Each Other
It’s easy to get complacent and assume you and your partner are on the same page, but assumptions are dangerous. Instead, keep actively learning about your partner.
“This means continually deepening your understanding of your partner’s joys, likes, dislikes, fears and stresses,” Klapow says. “Talking to them about the topics, knowing how they are changing over time. Making sure you know your partner emotionally and psychologically at a very deep level. This comes with on going communication.” Keep that conversation going — and don’t assume you know what they’re thinking or feeling. People change and evolve, so you want to keep learning about each other and changing together.
2. Take Stock Of What You Love About Each Other
Taking each other for granted is a really bad (and easy) habit to fall into, so make sure you’re taking stock of your relationship and how lucky you are.
“Nurture your fondness and admiration — this requires you to actively remind yourself of your partner’s qualities that are most appealing to you,” Klapow says. “It’s easy to get content and then complacent. Every day or every other day writing down why you love them will keep it.” Just taking a second to remind yourself what you love about them can make you a happier, healthier partner.
3. Let Each Other In
One key to a strong relationship is getting the balance between togetherness and independence. Sometimes, it takes a concerted effort to let your partner into your life. “It is very important that you allow your partner in on your decision making, your choices and your actions in life,” Klapow says. “Not all of them. Not all the time. But allowing them to influence how you navigate the world strengthens the bond between the two of you.” While independence is crucial — and should be nurtured — make sure you’re still tackling life as a team.
There’s a lot going on over the holidays and as a new year dawns, but it’s important to set aside time to work on your relationship. If you keep communicating and taking stock, your relationship can be stronger than ever in 2019.
Originally posted on Bustle