As a motivational speaker with years of study of interpersonal relationships under his belt, Peter Sandhill is commonly asked questions about how people can utilize self-improvement principles to build a strong relationship with a partner. While there are countless ways to build and maintain healthy relationships, Peter Sandhill notes that many of them boil down to avoiding stagnation and unhealthy behaviors by remaining thoughtful and proactive. Here, Peter Sandhill speaks to some of his favorite ways to play an active role in making a relationship work.
Practice Good Communication
One of the most important facets of a healthy relationship is communication, and Peter Sandhill recommends working on communication skills as a couple to reduce problems along the way. Communication in a relationship can work in many ways. For example, being clear about one’s needs can be great for ensuring that they are met throughout the relationship. People in relationships can sometimes forget that not all aspects of communication are directly verbal. Understanding a partner’s body language cues can go a long way towards communicating and building a healthy union without putting the onus of being understood directly on them. Peter Sandhill also notes the importance of good listening as a component of healthy communication. No one enjoys feeling as though they are not heard out in conversation, and many issues can be resolved by simply listening and working to come to fruitful conclusions.
Find Productive Ways to Express Disagreements
Most couples will have disagreements at one point or another in their relationship, and sometimes the difference between an unhealthy and healthy relationship is how these disagreements materialize. Peter Sandhill acknowledges that disagreements can be great for getting points across, but speaks to how we should be wary of letting these devolve into arguments. After all, it has been proven time and time again that humans are not great at listening to one another during arguments. Instead of yelling and engaging in an unproductive back and forth, always try to contextualize disagreements as you and your partner against the situation. The goal should always be to work on the issue at hand, and the best way to do so is to try your best to be calm when these discussions occur.
Intimacy in all its forms is often considered an instrumental part of healthy relationships. Peter Sandhill recommends thinking of more than just sex as a reflection of intimacy. Hugging, handholding, sharing enjoyable activities together, and a host of other actions are equally helpful for making you and your partner feel both valued and connected. Intimacy also does not need to be physical either, as connecting on an emotional level is equally important to building and maintaining a healthy relationship. For example, complimenting your partner, making time for dates without the expectation of sex, and sharing thoughts and dreams can be excellent ways to keep the emotional spark as well.
Work on Yourself
Peter Sandhill recognizes that healthy relationships are much easier to build and uphold when both individuals in the couple are continuously working on themselves to improve. Even the most upstanding of us have behaviors and routines that could be considered unhealthy and could potentially cause stress within a relationship. To build a healthy relationship is not to be completely without these flaws, but to work towards the self-awareness that will allow you to rise above them to be the best person and partner that you can be. Healthy relationships are often comprised of two people that can be perfectly content alone but feel as though these feelings are amplified by being together. While it can be difficult to evaluate oneself and one’s relationships critically, doing so can improve the quality of your interpersonal relationships by fixing them from the inside out.
Evaluate Your Relationship
Peter Sandhill realizes that some couples may find it awkward to discuss their relationship at length together, but it can be a truly valuable tool for evaluating how things are going. When thinking about your relationship, it is always helpful to consider what is working best and what areas you may want to see some change. Peter Sandhill notes that, while this can feel incredibly personal, it is important to remember that wants and needs can change throughout the duration of even the healthiest relationships. Staying up to date and on the same page can ensure that both of your needs are met before anything grows into a potential issue. For best results, never go into evaluating a relationship with only an idea of what you need your partner to do. Always be mindful of what you could do to contribute to the quality of your relationship as well.