5 Healthy Habits to Nourish Grown-up Relationships

Vancouver dating expert Deanna Cobden shares her top 5 tips to maintain a healthy relationship

Credit: Dateworks

Discover more effective ways to communicate and improve your relationship

After the honeymoon period of a relationship passes, it’s easy to forget why we fell in love in the first place. We start taking one another for granted, while a lot of miscommunication and frustrations arise.

Deanna Cobden (pictured above), a dating and relationship expert at Vancouver’s Dateworks says, “It’s really important to approach your relationship in a grown-up way.” No drama, no mind reading.

Click through for her top 5 tips to maintain a healthy relationship.

Check in with each other regularly

You know that cliché, don’t go to bed angry? This is the grown-up version. Instead of talking it out when there’s a problem, take time to address both the good and bad.

“Have an adult conversation about your needs and wants, but also talk about the good things and what’s working for you,” says Deanna.

She recommends scheduling regular check-ins where there’s no judgement, anger, or emotional charge from either party. The idea is to create a loving space where both partners can be heard and work on things you want to change, but also affirm what’s working, and what you need more of.

“It’s a different idea because we’re so used to going with the flow and things just happening to us rather than learning how to create a really good relationship.”

Action item #1
Speak with your partner to set up a weekly or monthly date that works with both of your schedules for a 15-minute check-in. For example, the first Wednesday of each month after dinner.

Learn to speak their language

We learn about a variety of subjects in school and on the job, but as Deanna observes, “We’re not really trained in relationships.” Because everyone has a different learning style, it’s only natural everyone has a different love style.

“I love you” may seem like the most romantic three words used to express love, but does the message get interpreted the same on the receiving end? She recommends checking out The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman to learn how to make your partner feel most appreciated: Is it through the universal words “I love you,” spending quality time together or buying a thoughtful gift just because?

Action item #2
Pick up The Five Love Languages or spend a few minutes after your check-in with your partner to see which of the five ways he or she feels most loved. Your partner’s priorities may surprise you.

Schedule date nights

When you first meet someone, it’s all about the chase. There’s a real chemical reaction in our brains charged with dopamine and serotonin. We fall in love and then the spark disappears. Deanna says that the truth is, “You can actually have those experiences throughout your relationship if you do new things together.”

Schedule date nights so you both have something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be something extreme like skydiving, but explore common interests. If you both have a mutual appreciation for art, a painting night might be the start to a fun Friday.

“A lot of people think it’s unromantic, but if you don’t schedule it sometimes, you don’t end up doing anything,” she says, “and you don’t do anything different.”

Action item #3
Schedule your next date tonight.

Spell it out: what makes you happy?

Forget dropping “obvious” hints for one another and avoid all of the should-have-known drama. Deanna lays it out straight, “Instead of this being a fairy tale where you’re in a coma, a prince comes and kisses you, and knows everything that’s going to make you happy, you actually need to say: ‘This is what makes me happy.'”

Although it may not be the most romantic way to communicate, a great idea is to write out what you want and share it with your partner, kind of like a happiness how-to guide. “We’re talking about a grown-up relationship where you have to know what’s going to make you happy in order for your partner to make you happy.”

Action item #4
Write down a list of your desires and stick them on notes on the fridge—dinner at the new farm-to-table restaurant? A Saturday afternoon to yourself? Make it clear in order to make it happen.

Say I love you—or thank you—every day

Who doesn’t like feeling valued? It’s not just grand gestures that show your partner appreciation. It’s about the little things that add up over time. “Showing sincere appreciation every day is so important on both sides,” Deanna advises.

Thank him for taking out the garbage, even if it’s his job. Compliment her on how she looks stunning in her new blouse. Think of this exercise like writing modern love notes to each other every day. Tell them in person, over text, or even Snapchat a quick video of your message.

Action item #5
Text your partner right now to tell them why you love them. We bet they’ll enjoy the nice surprise.