Health and Wellness: 5 Tips for a healthier relationship as Valentine's Day approaches – Daily Herald

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As grocery store shelves turn pink and chocolatey, remember this: Heart-shaped chocolates and bouquets of roses may be nice, but romantic gestures don’t automatically create a healthy romantic relationship. 
In the lead-up to Valentine’s Day, consider doing something that will have a deep, lasting benefit for your relationship. If you’re a new couple, start your relationship with purpose. And no matter how long you have been together, communicate to solve conflicts, make time for couples activities, carve out your own space and show appreciation. By implementing one or more of these tips, you’ll find your relationship is sweeter. 
If you’re at the beginning of a relationship, it’s important to be purposeful about moving forward. Do some soul searching before you commit.
“People may be able to boost their own relational, health, and well-being trajectories by more selectively choosing and investing in new relationships that are right for them and rejecting those that are not right for them,” said dating and relationships researchers Samantha Joel, Ph.D., and Prof. Paul Eastwick.
We all know that communication is key to a healthy relationship, but what specific habits should you work on?
Here are four communication tips from John Gottman, Ph.D., a marriage researcher:
As you work on a healthier relationship, you can become physically healthier together! Here are some activities to try:
While you do these activities, consider trying some of these couples conversation starters from http://thedatingdivas.com.
It is, of course, crucial to spend time together as a couple, but it is also crucial to spend time on your own. There’s an important balance to strike, and it may change as time goes on and you are more or less busy.
“If the relationship is too close, suffocating even, then the couple [becomes] merged and there is little scope for exploration and growth, of other interactions, of missing your loved one and wanting to return, bringing new ideas and energy into the relationship,” said Alex Psaila, clinical supervisor at Relate North and South West Sussex, a charity that provides relationship support.
“Appreciating your spouse is a binding factor in relationships,” said Elizabeth McCormic, counselor at http://marriage.com. “Showing your spouse you appreciate and value them can be challenging; every person likes to receive affection and appreciation differently.”
The good news is there are universal principles for showing appreciation to your spouse that work no matter what their love language may be:
As Valentine’s Day approaches, consider going beyond a romantic date to strengthen your relationship. For new couples, start your relationship with purpose. For any couple, communicate to solve conflicts, make time for couples activities, carve out your own space and show appreciation. Then the chocolates and flowers will just be a bonus for a truly sweet relationship.
Sarah Hilton, RN, has 20 years of healthcare experience and serves as Stage Marketing’s director of advisory services.
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