I've been discussing recently specific examples of when couples need to work on their relationship. Articles on this site have discussed romance ideas, how to make things better, and what to do when things go bad. But I haven't given a list of good relationship tips. Below, you'll find general relationship advice that can make just about any romance better--whether it's going really well already or it's veering over the relationship ledge.
Follow the advice below and you're relationship will be stronger, healthier, and more fulfilling. Some of these involve "exercises" or mental processes, so don't roll your eyes. Ask yourself, if you actually take these suggestions, if these won't make your romantic partnership more rewarding. You know they will.
No matter how small a gesture your partner makes, notice it and show you appreciate it. Pay attention to the good things he or she does in your life and call attention to them. This not only makes your lover feel better, but it assures you'll have more things done for you in the future. People like to know they are pleasing their love partner.
When something is important to you, communicate it to your girlfriend or boyfriend. Tell them what it is you find important and why you find it important. Your partner is not a mind reader, so you can't blame them if they don't know what it is you want. Most of the time, when you make explicit your wants and desires--and give a reason why you want it that way--your partner will try to please you.
Don't make it a habit to criticize and blame your girlfriend or boyfriend for every little thing. Issues have to be resolved sometimes, but usually not every day. Try to make it a rare day that the two of you fight and argue. Living with another person means you have to put up with occasional quirky behavior--don't make it notable. Let it roll off. Don't try to invalidate your love partner or the two of you will get caught in a pattern of negativity.
This might sound simple, but it's often one of the hardest things in a relationship. Develop a sense of compassion for your lover. A self-involved student once told one of my professors in college that people couldn't truly understand other peoples' lives. The professor, quite offended, said, "God gave me the power of imagination. I can imagine what it's like to be you."
Imagination lets you empathize with your partner, and that should let you sympathize with him or her. Imagine what it must be like to be the guy or girl you date. Try to understand their life to this point and the issues they deal with. This is called empathizing with them. Once you imagine their life, you can sympathize with them--you have compassion for your partner. Truly having compassion for your partner is a way you grow in the relationship.
Have your partner write down what makes them feel loved and special in a relationship and in life, then write down the same for yourself. Exchange lists and act on the information. Even if the two of you are having trouble, try to go through the steps that makes the other person feel special. This act should draw you closer, in good times and bad.
Either as an exercise or in your own mind, think about the things you do in the relationship that causes problems and stress. You have to know, in your heart of hearts, you do things that annoy, frustrate, or sadden your boyfriend or girlfriend. Figure out what these things are and eliminate them from your behavior. If both of you can do this, you can eliminate a significant amount of frustration, anger, and sadness from your love affair.
Don't make your relationship about who wins and loses. Instead, find ways to resolve issues by pleasing each other. The spirit of compromise doesn't appear to happen much in public life these days, but you should make compromise a big part of your private life. Compromising on big issues and small issues fosters a sense of partnership.
When you do things to punish your love partner, you are building a relationship on negative emotions. Also, while you can punish him or her, you'll be punished in due time, one way or another. Find ways to motivate your lover through positive reinforcement, not negative reinforcement.
Many of the traits that first attracted you to a person can become annoying after seeing them on display through the years. It's been said that a person's strengths are also their weaknesses. If you were first attracted to your girlfriend or boyfriend because they were outspoken, you can't really blame them for being outspoken. If their energy and exuberance was attractive to you in the first place, you can't expect to change them if that becomes annoying to you later. All of us have quirks, so don't be judgmental.
People tend to be resentful by their very nature, but hidden resentments in a relationship are absolute poison. If you have lingering issues that you won't discuss with your partner, they can't correct their mistakes and change their behavior. Eventually, your unwillingness to call their attention to what you resent makes it your fault things don't change. Get your resentments out in the open, so the two of you can start to resolve these issues. Again, they aren't a mind reader.
Your relationship will never work if you don't maintain quality time to build and grow the relationship. Whether you've been dating for half-a-year or you've been married ten years, the two of you need quality time. This means time when no friends are around and no kids are around--nobody but the two of you are there. Make this a steady part of your relationship. Watching television together doesn't count.