Our spouses often see us at our best and our worst. In relationships, we encounter a gamut of emotions, from joy, sadness, frustration, happiness, and pain. Partners in growth-oriented relationships aim to work together through difficult events. They focus on gratitude, the positive aspects of the romantic relationship, and their personal lives. With this approach, both partners work to build a healthy relationship while becoming a better person. Individuals in these relationships feel inspired to become better and expand their world in all areas of their lives.
5 ways to continuously grow in a healthy relationship
While there are countless ways to continuously grow in your relationship, there are a handful of simple steps anyone can take to get moving in the right direction. The following are five ways to that you can continuously create a better version of your relationship.
1. Keep each other accountable for personal growth
Do you know your partner’s true purpose? Do they know yours? Having a purpose creates more meaning for an individual, thus helping them lead a fuller and more meaningful life. Discussing your personal and professional dreams with your partner is a great way to build accountability and purpose in your life and romantic relationship. Holding each other accountable can provide space to discuss challenges, encourage each other to stay positive, and offer advice. Additionally, you can learn new things about each other and get a more in-depth look into each other’s lives.
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2. Show appreciation for each other’s contributions to the relationship
There are many different ways to show appreciation in romantic relationships. Maintaining connection can be challenging, and showing appreciation is one of the most important ways to maintain that connection. Think about how you enjoy receiving recognition or appreciation from your significant other. This is called your love language, and yours often differs from your partner’s. Do you prefer words of affirmation? Gifts? Acts of Service? Quality time? Physical touch? What does your partner like? If you’re not sure, consider taking a love languages quiz with your spouse to promote growth in showing appreciation to each other.
3. Start planning ahead
Talk about your dreams with your partner and encourage them to share what they want from life with you. Plan and set goals to get to a point where you both feel good about the growth in your relationship. Whether it’s marriage, children, travel, or opening yourselves up to other new experiences, creating a plan will make it more likely to happen.
4. Seek help if you need it
Counseling can do amazing things for both individuals and couples. If you are struggling to connect or communicate with your partner, or maybe you’re starting over in a relationship, consider seeking a couples therapist to help you and your partner work through difficult conversations by building communication and conflict-resolution skills that will help your relationship grow.
5. Keep track of and celebrate your growth
The easiest way to celebrate growth is to celebrate your anniversary. In addition to going out to your favorite restaurant, consider sharing some of your favorite photos or moments throughout the year. There are other things worth celebrating as a couple, like buying a new house or paying off shared debt. Be sure to celebrate individual growth in your relationship as well. If your partner gets a promotion or finishes something difficult at work, celebrate them! Be vocal about your accomplishments and express your desire to celebrate with your partner. Use these opportunities to share your individual and shared dreams and have a conversation about how you and your partner can work to achieve them.
5 ways to push each other to pursue individual growth
Personal growth is hard work. It doesn’t come without challenges, new life experiences, expanding your comfort zones, and sometimes enduring failure. Partners in growth-oriented relationships eventually learn how to push and support each other in their personal growth.
One way to do this is to let go of the need to compete with each other. Comparing your life plan with your partner’s is one way of saying you’re not accepting your differences. Recognize that you’re a team and determine what balance your partner needs to live their best life alongside you.
1. Give up the need to be right
While a healthy amount of arguing isn’t a bad thing in a relationship, the need to win or be right can hold couples back from growing together. It truly doesn’t usually matter who is right so long as both parties are satisfied with the resolution of the conflict. Giving up the need to be right and leaning into compromise can help you and your partner grow together and promote better conflict management for the future.
2. Create shared interests
It’s essential to have your own interests – in fact, your partner loves you for the person that you are. However, having shared interests can help strengthen the bond and connection between two individuals. Perhaps there’s an activity that your partner is passionate about that they have been trying to get you involved in, or vice versa. If you’re apprehensive, consider giving it a try. Maybe you’ve both been eyeing an activity together but haven’t yet gotten your feet wet. Shared interests give us more opportunities to engage with our partners. Some can also help build stronger communication skills useful for hard conversations down the road.
3. Give each other space
Alone time is essential to foster a sense of individual self. If you are annoyed, irritated, or want some time to explore your interests, discuss this with your spouse. Let them know that seeking alone time is good for the health of your romantic love, and ask if there is anything you can do to support them in seeking some alone time for themselves. Never feel guilty for wanting space or spending time to recharge in your relationship.
4. Focus on the good
It’s easy to be critical of ourselves and our partners. We may nitpick or focus on what’s not working or worry about what may go wrong in the future. Concentrating on what you and your partner do well in the present can help build a strong foundation for growth. Try to notice what your partner does right and what the two of you do well as a partnership. Don’t forget to notice your own strengths as well! In doing this, you’ll create a foundation of self growth and support for the time you need to offer your spouse feedback.
5. Be open to new opportunities
We can often become closed off and set in our ways. Life can start to feel drab and monotonous, directly affecting our romantic relationship. Over time, we are unwilling to listen to new ideas and become complacent in our small world. Those open to new opportunities are more likely to grow personally and romantically. This is easy to put into practice with your partner. You can start small by trying out a new restaurant or signing up for a class together that you might not usually take. You may find new ways to experience the world together by taking small risks. Over time, you may jump into more significant opportunities, like traveling to new places or even moving to a new city! Stay open and adventurous!
What Does Relationship Growth Look Like?
It’s pretty easy to spot a growth-oriented relationship. Individuals in these relationships are excited to discuss the future with their partner and are actively making plans that include them. They adapt to each other and compliment each other on their progress. They are encouraging, respectful and support one another in their goals, future plans, and challenges.
Several things indicate growth in a romantic relationship. One significant indicator is that you and your spouse have little to no difficulty being vulnerable with each other. This looks like talking about your feelings, admitting your faults, and apologizing when you mess up. Just as important as sharing your vulnerability is listening and accepting your partner’s vulnerability.