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5 Ways to Make Your Relationship Stronger

Relationships are love and war. Until you get to the war part of it, it's hard to realize how much work is actually required to maintain your patience, affection and commitment. There are ways you can reinforce and strengthen your relationship so both of you can bounce back from difficult phases as painlessly as possible. Here are five tips:
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Couple in love holding hearts.
Couple in love holding hearts.

Relationships are love and war. Until you get to the war part of it, it's hard to realize how much work is actually required to maintain your patience, affection and commitment. There are ways you can reinforce and strengthen your relationship so both of you can bounce back from difficult phases as painlessly as possible. Here are five tips:

1. Small gestures count big-time. Consistent 'little things' can add up to one resilient relationship. I'm a believer in Dr. Gottman's 5:1 ratio. The theory is: for every negative action, it takes five positive actions to restore stability in a relationship. Therefore, it's important to build up that positivity whenever you can. Frequent small gestures, such as compliments, "thinking of you" text messages, love notes and more are great ways to do this.

2. Talk, don't read. Ever have a hunch that your significant other isn't telling you something? Because relationships (and people) go through phases, there may be times when the two of you don't sync up. Don't read into things. Instead, let them know that you want to talk. It's your time to let the other know that you're feeling left out, disconnected or concerned. Most importantly, remember to open the conversation from a curious standpoint, not confrontational or accusatory.

3. Listen, don't talk. It's easy to get caught up in multi-tasking, internal thoughts and what's going on around you. All of these things can prevent couples from hearing each other completely and communicating well. Always listen to what your loved one is telling you. Four tips for listening better are: focus on your partner, don't interrupt, pay attention to their body language and validate what they said- before you respond.

4. Keep the love alive. As if you need convincing to get frisky with your lover, research proves that sex connects a couple on an emotional level. In addition, it's a moment to satisfy and focus on each other without distraction. The general rule is to do it as often as you can by keeping your sex life active and not letting it fall by the wayside.

5. Put up a good fight. Love is wonderful, but it can also be emotionally exhausting. Arguments in particular can leave you feeling overwhelmed, confused and requiring time to think. The popular saying 'Don't go to bed angry' can put pressure on a couple to resolve something that doesn't always have a quick solution. By following that rule, you may be at the giving or receiving end of lip service. And I'm not talking about the good kind of lip service. Take time to authentically resolve a problem. It could take hours or days, and several heated conversations, but do not give up when your relationship is worth fighting for.