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4 Keys to healthy relationships

Elise Stephens blogs about relationships, life, and inspiration at www.elisestephens.com. She received the Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction from the University of Washington in 2007. Her novel Moonlight and Oranges was a quarter-final...

keep your love life from breaking down

Whenever something is left unattended, it has a way of getting unhealthy: gardens, dishes, bills -- you name it! Relationships are no exception.
Happy couple on motorcycle

Although a romantic relationship should never be a chore, it still needs its own attention to keep it healthy -- regular “tune-ups,” if you will. Here are my four keys that will keep your relationship from breaking down.

Planning

Don’t underestimate the value of looking at a calendar together. Are you stretching your energies too thin with social events or are you not making enough space in the workweek to play? Take half an hour a week to look at your commitments, decide your RSVPs, and plan when you’ll take downtime.

Teamwork

This is one of the best ways to build rapport as a duo. Whether it’s a dinner party you co-host or a fence you install in your yard together, do things as a team on a regular basis. Guys especially tend to bond over shared activities. Love and trust will flourish when you find ways to collaborate.

Encouragement

It isn’t always easy to remember to say thank you -- or to squeeze his hand, look him in the eye, and say how much his listening ear meant after your bad day at the office. But this builds affection and appreciation, and that stuff pulls you through the hard times. If my man is feeling loved and encouraged, virtually anything is possible for us. If he’s down in the dumps, it’s like telling a brick wall to dance.

How to motivate your man >>

Downtime

This one is important, so listen up! No matter how outgoing either of you might be, you need time that’s just for the two of you. If you both get too busy, a melt-down/fight is inevitable. You need regular time where you can recharge by relaxing with a book or a movie or puttering around the house doing a project. Agree to block out an evening or weekend slot for this, and make sure you can both agree on it so that one of you doesn’t schedule over it.

A nurtured love life runs like a well-oiled machine that’s prepared for the bumps in the road and the steep climbs uphill. What part of your relationship needs a tune-up?

More relationship tips

How to solve a communication crisis
3 Signs your relationship is on the right track
3 Reasons to take a relationship break this summer

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