One essential habit that all couples should maintain to build a strong successful relationship is the regular display of gratitude. Being appreciative is not just reminding someone that you don’t take them for granted, it’s also a way to remind one another of what you have. I know of a loving couple who swear by this habit, and they have been practising daily gratitude for years. Every morning – without fail – they tell each other at least 10 things they are grateful for in their marriage. You reap what you sow in a partnership, and in a way, it’s no different to putting together a meal in the kitchen. If you use the right ingredients and invest time and effort into what you’re making, then it will show in whatever you end up serving. When you say “thank you” to your partner, even for the smallest task, it can have a lasting impact. Even the smallest show of gratitude can make all the difference, especially on a bad day. The foundation of a long-lasting relationship is built with many things such as encouraging words and actions, positive attitudes, and romantic expressions of love and sexual intimacy. Michelle Harris, a natural counsellor and personal, relationship, and couples’ empowerment guide agrees that communication with love and respect is crucial. “Remind them of their positive attributes. Focus on what they do, rather than judging or complaining about what they don’t do. Express their positive traits to your friends, so you are always talking about them in a respectful way,” she says. By empowering your partner, you also empower yourself, she says. And remember to reconnect throughout the day if you can, even if it’s through a short text or a call. “Be creative in your message to add some fun and playfulness. If it is about daily events, you can discuss these in a loving and open way. So, before you message, take two seconds to listen to your heart and communicate from a place of love and awareness; don’t give a hurried response.” Harris stresses that love brings people together; but acceptance, communication, trust, and respect are the cornerstones of a successful relationship. She believes that for a happy, strong, and successful romantic relationship, there are certain habits that can have a powerful and positive impact. They include spending quality time together and engaging in activities such as mediation, going for a walk in nature, setting a shared challenge, going on an adventure, or doing something new together. “Most important, when you are with your partner, whether you’re doing something together or in conversation, be totally 100 per cent present with them.” Couples should be open to learning, growing, listening, hearing, and sharing. “A lot of people and couples end up in old habits that become staid, boring and negative. They stop their ability to learn and grow. So be open to new ways and be open to sharing from your heart.” You can also do little things they enjoy. “Simple gestures like making them a coffee in the morning or putting on their favourite music when they walk in the door after a day at work.” She continues, “You can surprise them by finding out what makes your partner tick. In other words, you can communicate with them using their ‘love language’. Most importantly, when you are with your partner, whether you’re doing something together or in conversation, be totally 100 per cent present with them Michelle Harris, natural counsellor and personal, relationship, and couples’ empowerment guide “Remember you are a team, so work together towards your goals and dreams. Share in the joys of what you create and support one another. Celebrate your individual achievements, and those you have achieved together.” However, you must always remain vigilant of any red flags, such as the following: a lack of interest , dishonesty, deceit, avoiding conversations or time together, being distant or vacant, having affairs, unhappiness, and not wanting to create good habits. These are not conducive to strengthening the bonds between you. Harris also warns, “If one or other is avoiding or not interested in developing healthy habits and growing in the relationship, then maybe you need to ask yourself why this is the case.” She says it could be fear (i.e. wanting to stay in the comfort of what you already know); or it could be that the relationship is not important enough to you; or you simply don’t feel it’s necessary; or you feel it as another chore or burden, or that other areas of life are distracting you. On the contrary, it’s good if you can be honest with yourself about what you truly feel. You can then communicate this with your partner to see what changes may need to be made, she points out. “When you are communicating from love, you can still say ‘hard things’ to one another. Don’t expect your partner to fill your emotional holes, and vice versa. You are not responsible for their happiness. Ultimately, each of us can only heal ourselves and make ourselves happy. Your partner, however, can be supportive as you work with yourself, and vice versa.” Of course, if need be, seek professional help and talk to a therapist to see if you can resolve things between you, and if it’s time to part, then you will know. Building a strong partnership ● Meditate to develop mindfulness, awareness, and presence of self, so you can be your authentic self with your other half ● Challenge each other to help build inner resilience and trust that extends into your partnership ● Create a vision board of joint goals; get creative with putting your ideas/goals on paper to strengthen and align the energetic connection ● Use eye gazing exercises and other non-verbal communication exercises to connect in a novel way ● Giving and receiving: a giver can ask, “What can I offer you right now?”, while the receiver feels into their body for what they desire – on an emotional basis – at that moment, and share it with your partner Luisa Tam is a correspondent at the Post Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.