What does a strong, healthy relationship look like? For many of us, the fantasy is that a strong relationship means that there is absolutely no conflict; that the partners agree with and are satisfied about every part of the other person. In reality, of course, conflict between partners is a normal and inevitable component of a healthy relationship. Never discussing the issues in your relationship can actually serve to intensify your problems rather than make them go away. Unfortunately, if both partners are not careful to reduce negativity and increase positivity when talking about their differences, it can quickly get out of hand and escalate into heated, unproductive conflict. Don’t let conflict get the best of you and your partner. Below are 11 realistic and easy steps to follow to increase the positivity between you and your partner and decrease the conflict within your relationship.

  • Let the driver of the car decide on the route and music selection. First of all, nobody likes a backseat driver, but it also shows that you respect and trust your partner when you, literally, put him or her in the driver’s seat. It may mean letting go a bit to do things differently, but focus on relaxing, looking out the window, and enjoying the ride with your partner!
  • Take turns planning date nights. If only one partner ends up doing this, he or she may end up feeling resentful that the other partner does not care enough to plan a date. This negativity could spoil your night out, so take turns to avoid this pitfall.
  • If your partner makes dinner, you do the dishes. It is an easy way to communicate that you care about and appreciate their efforts.
  • If you need to wake up a certain time, set your own alarm; don’t put this responsibility on your partner. Be sure that you are not expecting too much of your partner. Recognize that you are both busy and need to take care of some things for yourself.
  • Put your phone away during dinner or any other intimate moment. Sharing uninterrupted one-on-one time is essential for building a healthy relationship. Commit to putting the phone away during these important moments, and then reap the rewards!
  • Clean up after yourself. It’s the respectful thing to do.
  • Always be sure to call or text when running late. You would want the same done for you. It shows that you have your partner in mind and do not want them to worry or wait around for you if you are running behind schedule.
  • At the end of the day, check in with the other; don’t forget to ask about their day. After all, you love and care about your partner, what better way to show them then to ask what happened during the time you spend apart.
  • If you ask your partner to take care of a task for you, let them decide how to do it. They may load the dishwasher differently, but they are trying to be helpful, so let them get it done their way. The dishes will get clean whether you tell them how to do it or not.
  • Thank your partner even if you think you shouldn’t have to. Appreciation goes a long way.
  • If you screw up, apologize (even if you think they never do). Don’t turn apologizing into a game where you only do it if the other does. Take ownership and responsibility for the mistakes you make, no matter what.