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Cultivating Thriving Relationships: 5 Essential Skills and Mindsets for Maintenance and Repair

Do you have what it takes to sustain your marriage or long term relationship? Good relationships take time, investment, commitment, TLC, and problem solving skills to build. Just like how growing a plant or owning a home requires regular interventions and care, having relational fullness and longevity requires similar efforts.

Where relationships are concerned, there are a few common skills and mindsets that tend to beget happy marriages. If you are presently struggling in your relationship, chances are you, or your partner might need to explore whether or not you have the right skills or mindsets to help you get unstuck and move forward. 

5 Essential Skills for Relational Maintenance and Repair

1). Effective, Non-Violent Communication

Effective, non-violent communication is the ability to clearly express our needs in the relationship without putting our partners on the defense, and focusing our efforts on problem solving instead of creating tension. What you say with your verbal and non-verbal communication matters a lot to getting your needs met. Often, when we are activated or triggered in a fight with our spouse, our most intuitive stance is to approach them with aggression, defense, or retreating into our own worlds. It can be difficult to hold a neutral stance when communicating. We can say things in an aggressive tone, or sound accusatory without checking all the facts, or first considering things from our partner’s perspective. Effective communication is two-way where active listening also plays an important role to help your partner feel heard. In addition, you may need to learn how to clearly express your thoughts and  feelings in a respectful and loving manner to get your point across.

2). Conflict Resolution

Any long term relationship will inevitably run into the issue of differences that will need to be addressed in order to build deeper connection and intimacy. This is one of the most important skills that when lacking, often brings couples into therapy. It is also common for couples to concurrently struggle with anger and resentment when trying to resolve a conflict that can further erode a relationship (read more in the blog on anger below). Learning to address conflicts constructively, finding common ground, and compromising when necessary can prevent relational resentments from building.

3). Empathy and Respect

Practicing regularly to take the perspective of your spouse, to truly understand their world, their needs, and their limitations, can help you become more empathetic and considerate in relationships. Having empathy allows you to understand your partner’s choices and actions while respect allows you to honor them, even when you don’t agree.

4). Teamwork

Good teamwork requires some of the basic skills discussed above, in addition to having trust, understanding of each other’s unique strengths and weaknesses, and a shared vision. Couples with solid teamwork skills understand and value the “us” in their relationship when it comes to any challenges they face. Instead of a “me” vs. “you” mentality, they see each other as a united front when tackling problems that come up such as disagreements over household chores. For example, one spouse may prefer cooking and the other cleaning, so as a team the couple decides to delegate chores accordingly to get things done focusing on their unique strengths. You respect and make room for each other’s perspectives so that there is synergy in the unit instead of fighting each other to get your own wants and needs met.

5) Boundaries

Managing good boundaries is an important relational skill that can be learned. Boundaries are important in a relationship because it can prevent burnout, resentment and promote healthy interdependence. Having healthy boundaries in your marriage allows you to protect your energies and space while also nurturing your togetherness and intimacy. Couples with good boundaries prevent codependency and enmeshment by maintaining their individuality, interests and sense of self outside the relationship.

3 Key Relational Mindsets

1). Giving Grace

Developing a mindset of forgiveness in relationships can be very difficult in the short term but rewarding in the long term. This mindset involves the spirit of being able to put aside your ego to ask for forgiveness when you’ve wronged your partner, but also forgiving your spouse when he or she causes pain and hurts that they have not yet apologized for. The opposite of doing this will build resentment and grudges which will contribute to anger and emotional distance in the relationship. Forgiveness allows couples to move past hurts in the relationship with a spirit of grace that assumes best intentions and gives benefit of doubt.

2). Flexibility Towards Growth

When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, chances are you and your partner will change and grow. Although some couples struggle through changes in their preferences, interests, and routines, these changes over time are what makes your relationship valuable and meaningful. Strong couples understand and are able to face life’s unpredictable seasons together and adjust their relational rhythms accordingly to allow for room for growth and change. For example, in different relationship stages like dating, to getting married, to having a child together, you are able to adjust your expectations for what is your new normal together and embrace the change that it requires.

3). Selflessness and Generosity

In the everyday moments of your relationship, do you notice yourself thinking more about your wants and desires or those of your partner? Selflessness and generosity go hand in hand. When you think about what your partner wants and needs, you will naturally navigate the relationship in a more generous manner. You will develop a spirit of mutual giving that will allow your marriage to blossom into greater love for one another.

Seek Couples Therapy at Yellow Chair Collective in Los Angeles or New York

At our Los Angeles, CA, and New York City, NY-based therapy practice, we have many skilled, trauma-informed therapists who can provide an empowering therapeutic experience. For your added convenience and simplicity, we offer online therapy for anyone in the state of California or New York. We know that guilt and shame are painful experiences, and that the path to finding meaning and figuring out how to be a good person can be challenging. We want to support you on your journey. Follow the steps below to begin.

Other Services at Yellow Chair Collective

There are many options for treatment using online therapy in California and New York, it just depends on what you’re needing. And while we certainly service Asian American folks, we also work with individuals from other cultures, too. So, whether you’re needing support in overcoming anxiety, burnout, trauma, or PTSD, we can help. Likewise, we serve teens and couples in need of support, too. So when you start online therapy with us, you can bring your whole self, including past struggles, cultural impacts, and more.