Most people would agree that maintaining a healthy relationship is hard work. From the ability to engage in effective conflict, to figuring out how to balance your work life with your home life, to crafting messages that skillfully reveal your deepest darkest secrets, trying to make your relationship succeed can be exhausting at times. But, have you ever stopped to consider all of the routine activities that you and your partner engage in that maintain your bond? You may not even realize when you're doing it, but many day-to-day occurrences have a significant impact of the status and stability of your romance. Along with many others, researchers like Guerrero and her colleagues (2001), Dainton and Stafford (1993), and Canary and Stafford (2001) have examined a wide variety of routine relationship maintenance behaviors. These routine strategies are defined as "behaviors that occur at a lower level of consciousness and are not intentionally used to maintain a relationship" (Hendrick, 2000, p. 295). Below is a list of five routine relationship maintenance behaviors that many individuals use to successfully keep their relationships going strong.
1. Engaging in Routine Talk
Talking and listening to each other about the day's ups and downs has been shown to have a significant impact on the positive emotions and feelings of closeness you share in your relationship (Hicks & Diamond, 2008). And this is not just limited to your end-of-day discussions. All of those other little chats through out the day count too. Whether you're telling your mate about the amazing time you had last night bowling with your friends or discussing dinner options, routine talk is beneficial to your relationship in more ways than one.
2. Sharing Activities
Just spending some time together by doing things with one another is a great way to maintain your romance and stay connected. Grabbing a bite to eat, going on vacation, or even watching a movie on the couch together all have the ability to strengthen your relationship (Aron et al., 2000).
3. Offering Assurances
Telling your partner how you feel about him or her and about your relationship can enhance the quality of your bond. Whether you're saying "I love you" or showing your partner that you're committed by telling him or her that you're "in it to win it," offering assurances is an excellent strategy to increase feelings of satisfaction, happiness, and liking (Stafford, 2003).
4. Being Positive
As explained by Dr. Steve McCornack, "THE most important "tactic" or "practice" for maintaining ongoing romantic involvements- and one that is more commonly overlooked- is POSITIVITY. One simply cannot overstate the significance of approaching interactions with partners with a positive frame of mind, and doing what you can to lift a partner's spirits on a daily basis through surprise gifts, notes, etc. Similarly, the damage wrought by complaining, insulting, sulking, and other forms of "negativity" is profound and poisonous."
Incorporating a little humor into your daily routine is a wonderful addition to any relationship. Playful teasing, inside jokes, giving gag gifts, and even joking during conflict have all been shown to keep relationships going and maybe even help to repair some that may be heading south.
- Aron, A., Norman, C. C., Aron, E. N., McKenna, C., & Heyman, R. E. (2000). Couple's shared participation in novel and arousing activities and experienced relationship quality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 273-284.
- Guerrero, L. K., Anderson, P. A., & Afifi, W. A. (2001). Close encounters: Communicating in relationships. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.
- Canary, D. J., and Stafford, L. (2001). "Equity in the Preservation of Personal Relationships." In J. Harvey and A. Wenzel (Eds.), Maintenance and the Enhancement of Close Relationships. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Hendrick, C., & Hendrick, S. (2000). Close relationships: A sourcebook. London: Sage.