Ask a dozen couples about what the secret to a great relationship is and you’ll get three dozen different answers. While every relationship is as unique as the people who are in it, there are a few green flags that experts agree are signs that you’re part of a powerful partnership
And the real secret of raising those green flags? Quality time, every time. Let’s take a look.
What does a ‘great’ relationship look like?
Teamwork makes the dream work isn’t just something you might say at work! A great relationship is built on the idea that you and your partner are just that: partners, in love and in life.
Rachel O’Neill, PhD and licensed therapist, says that collaboration is about making sure that you both “feel a sense of equality within the relationship” – that you’re both working towards making your partnership better and ensuring that the needs of both of you are met. It’s easy to have a strong bond when you both feel you’re heading in the same direction.
We’ve talked before about how self-care and self-love is incredibly important for a relationship – when you grow as a person, so does your relationship. But you have to care for your partner too, giving as much as you’re taking. It’s a balancing act that’s not always easy to perform.
“We live in a culture that emphasizes personal satisfaction and the importance of ‘following your bliss.’ Putting your own needs first or being bitter about prioritizing your partner’s needs is a formula for disaster,” explains Michele Weiner-Davis, therapist and author of Divorce Busting.
“When you truly give your partner an emotional gift―such as being willing to have regular dinner dates with your in-laws who you don’t really adore (but your husband does), know that reciprocity is the usual response. Loving people do mutual caretaking.”
Open, honest communication is the bedrock of a great relationship. Partners should feel comfortable about talking to one another about anything – even (or especially!) the tricky topics.
According to O’Neill, this also means that both halves of a couple take an active role in promoting said communication.
“First, healthy communication means making communication a priority,” O’Neill says. “Second, healthy communication means using opportunities for face-to-face communication instead of via text or via call. Third, healthy communication involves talking about what’s working in the relationship and what’s not working. And last, healthy communication means being okay with the idea of being vulnerable and sharing your needs within the relationship.”
Madeleine DiLeonardo, founder of Mind Body and Soul, expands on these ideas:
“Outside of discussing the day-to-day, finding time to check in on a deeper level is very valuable. Some people do this as a date night, and others treat it more as a meeting to provide space for meaningful conversation that we sometimes are unable to have in our busy daily lives.”
Early on in a relationship, connection builds quickly, with sparks flying at every rendezvous as you learn more and more about one another. As time goes on, that energy can drift – but people in strong relationships actively take steps to learn more about one another, both emotionally and physically.
“A healthy sex life is one in which both partners feel like their needs are being met. It means the partners feel comfortable asking for what they want within the sexual relationship, and they feel that their partner is willing to explore with them ways to facilitate their sexual wellness,” says O’Neill.
DiLeonardo follows up with the inherent relationship between connection and communication:
“Are you feeling confident to express when you aren’t feeling connected sexually or physically, or the times you feel most connected? Often for women, sex and emotion are interconnected, and being connected emotionally leads to a healthier sex life.“
The secret to great relationships: quality time
The key to having these 4 C’s? Making sure that you and your partner always make time for each other – quality time.
- It’s easy to collaborate when you have the opportunity to put the daily stressors of life aside to really find out what you both want out of life.
- Putting time aside specifically for your partner is a simple method to show that you care – especially if quality time is one of your partner’s Love Languages.
- Want to communicate better? Block out time in your diary that’s all about talking to your partner face-to-face, having meaningful conversations and rediscovering what you love about one another.
- To connect with your partner, physically, emotionally, or both, quality time gives you the space, energy and focus to bond on a deeper level.
Quality time together, whether that’s a night out, a day in, a weekend away, or just a time every day that you spend dedicated to each other, is proven to improve the quality of your relationship.
Don’t believe us? Just look at this study from Wilcox and Dew that found couples that have regular date nights are 3.5 times more likely to report being “very happy” with their relationship compared to couples who don’t.
But you and your partner are busy people. It can be tough to find any time at all with each other, let alone quality time. That’s why Cupla exists – to help you find the right time for both of you so you can indulge in some one-on-one and build your relationship stronger than ever.