Romantic relationships are dynamic. They continuously change, reflecting circumstances, stresses, and the everyday ups and downs experienced by both partners. What happens to “me” and to “you” ultimately affects “us.” The healthiest relationships have partners who routinely (if subconsciously) check in with themselves, their partner, and their relationship to see how things are going and to make changes as necessary.
How can you respond to relationship changes? A great starting place is to evaluate your own contributions to your relationship. What are you doing that helps—or hurts—your relationship happiness? How are your actions and beliefs influencing the quality of your and your partner’s everyday interactions?
Scientific evidence supports the idea that each partner is responsible for the health of his or her relationship. To do your part, consider these simple, empirically-based changes as a guide toward a happier and healthier partnership:
- Get more sleep. Taking care of yourself is a win-win for you and your relationship, and sleep is at the top of the list. Not only can sleep deprivation affect your energy, mental alertness, and mood, but it reduces glucose levels, which adversely affects self-control (Gailliot & Baumeister, 2007). And self-control plays a big role in relationship success: Those with higher self-control are more able to respond in constructive ways to their partners (Finkel & Campbell, 2001), and the more self-control couples have, the higher their relationship quality tends to be (Vohs, Finkenauer, & Baumeister, 2011).
- Take action. Certain behaviors make a difference in relationship happiness. These maintenance behaviors often come naturally, but intentional efforts to engage in them could benefit relationships. Research (Stafford, 2010) underscores the power of these seven behaviors in particular in predicting relationship satisfaction, liking, love, and commitment:
- Positivity. Express happiness and pleasure when spending time together.