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8 Things You Should Do Daily To Keep Your Relationship Strong

Love & Relationships

Whenever someone says something along the lines of "relationships are hard work" (typically with an emphasis on "hard"), typically my response will be, "I prefer to say that relationships require daily maintenance." While on the surface, it might seem like I'm splitting hairs, think about a garden and I think you'll get where I'm coming from.


When you first decide to grow a garden, it's definitely a lot of work to get it started. You've gotta break ground, pull up stones, fertilize the soil, plant seeds…I'm getting tired just thinking about it. But once your garden is all set, so long as you water it, make sure the soil (the foundation) is good, check for weeds and pests and keep up with when it's time to harvest, for the most part, you're all set.

So yeah, to me, a healthy relationship is a lot like a garden. It may require a lot of work at first because you're getting the foundation laid. But if you both are committed to nurturing the relationship once it's been established, it shouldn't require tons of blood, sweat, and tears. It really shouldn't.

And just what do two people need to do in order to maintain their relationship with one another?

1. Be Courteous

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Have you ever noticed that some of the basic rules of courtesy we're taught as children are the ones that seem to go totally out of the window once we're grown and interacting with the people closest to us? Strangers and co-workers aren't the only ones who deserve to hear "please" or "thank you". They also aren't the only individuals who should receive actual requests when we need something or should be told that they are appreciated when said request is granted.

One of the main reasons why a lot of people feel taken for granted in their relationships is because their partner fails to show good manners to them. It sounds elementary, but I promise that if you're more polite, it truly can do wonders for your relationship.

2. Ask. Don't Assume.

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Something else that most of us heard while growing up is if we assume, it will make a total ass of us. Yet, when I'm in the middle of a counseling session, I can't tell you how many times one or both people have told me that they are frustrated with their partner because they know they are thinking "this" or they know they are going to do "that".

Yeah, I know a lot of us women think that we are so intuitive that we can constantly read our man's mind. I also know that kind of presumption tends to piss a lot of men off. No matter how long you've been with someone, they're forever gonna be capable of doing something that surprises you. Therefore, if you really want to know something, give them the respect of asking rather assuming what they are going to say or do. And yes, require they do the same thing for you in return.

3. ​Apologize. And Forgive.

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There is someone I used to be very close to who I had to stop being close with, basically for one major reason—they refused to apologize. Like ever. Something that life experience has taught me is if someone wrongs me or even just hurts my feelings and they refuse to address it, that's a form of toxicity that I can do without.

I did some research into why some people seem to be wired this way. Many psychologists say that some individuals don't apologize because they have trouble separating their actions from their character (they think what they are apologizing for is both). Others say people don't do it because they feel that apologizing will trigger other unwanted conversations (like they might apologizing for being perpetually late and that will turn into their other "flaws").

Personally, I think it has more to do with egomania than anything. Oh, and the title of this article right here—"People Who Never Apologize Probably Aren't Nice to Themselves, Either". If someone is not nice to themselves, it's only a matter of time before they show out, on some level, with their partner. Life is too short to not work through things. When you know you've done wrong or even when your partner simply brings hurt feelings (at your hand) to your attention, it's an act of humility and love to apologize.

On the flip side, in order for relationships to be healthy, it's also important to forgive. People who can't forgive also baffle me because it sends the message that others should accept their flaws, missteps and wrongdoings, but those same individuals aren't deserving of that very same reception. No relationship is perfect; that's because both people in them aren't.

A relationship that forgives each other stays together.

Apologize. And forgive.

4. Love with Intention

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Intention. Did you know that two definitions of the word "intention" are "purpose or attitude toward the effect of one's actions or conduct" and "purpose or attitude with respect to marriage"? It's kind of a trip that the meaning of intention speaks to a type of romantic relationship.

And yes, if you want to keep your relationship healthy and strong, it's important that you thoughtfully and purposefully express your love and commitment to your partner on a daily basis. It doesn't have to always be an over-the-top gesture. It can be a mailed Hallmark card. Lunch from their favorite restaurant delivered to their job. A back massage out of the blue. Recreating their favorite date. Cuddling in bed while watching one of their favorite movies.

It's all about thinking about how much you love them and then doing something—whether it's big or small—to show them just how much you do. As often as you possibly can.

5. Lean. Don't Push.

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I grew up on Beverly Hills, 90210. So, when I found out that Luke Perry (aka Dylan McKay) died in March, I was all up in my feelings. It made me want to watch some reruns. It also caused me to recall some great advice that another character on the show (Ian Ziering who played Steve Sanders) said to one of his girlfriends when they were having some miscommunication issues—"Lean. Don't push."

What he basically meant is sometimes, when we're in a really vulnerable place, rather than admit that to our partner and ask for help, we slick find ways to push them away or self-sabotage the relationship, all because we're afraid that they won't be able to endure our hard times with us.

Ian/Steve is exactly right. If anyone should be your advocate and source of support, it's your partner. At the same time, they should be able to feel the same way about you. Lean into your support system; don't do things that will push him away or have to "prove" that he's gonna stay. That kind of test may be one that you'll royally fail.

6. Laugh Together

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If you got 50 people together in one room and asked them to list five things that attracts them to another person, I'd be shocked if 80 percent of them didn't mention the importance of having a sense of humor. Not only is it a sign that an individual knows how not to take life so seriously all of the time, it's also an indication that they can see the positive/funny sides of things too.

Plus, science reveals that laughter does everything from reduce stress and lower your blood pressure to strengthen your heart, increase T-cells and release endorphins too. Whether it's calling up your partner in the middle of the day to share a funny story with them or it's sitting on the couch and watching old episodes of The Boondocks (Tom singing Usher's "Let It Burn" and a pizza commercial that KevOnStage featured on his channel never get old!), make a point to laugh with the one who you love, just as often as you possibly can.

7. Remember Why You Started

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Something that I recommend all of the couples that I work with do is jot down 10 things that they really like about their partner, then post it somewhere they can see it on a daily basis, whether it's their bedroom or bathroom mirror or even the fridge. It's a great way for them to remember what drew them to one another in the first place.

If relationships were easy, divorces would drop by at least a billion percent. Sometimes, when your boo is getting on your very last nerve and you're tempted to only focus on all of the things you don't like about them, you need a visual reminder of all of the things that you love. Refer to the list as often as possible. Sometimes even shoot a text to reiterate a couple of things that are on it—just so both of you can remember why you started your relationship in the first place.

8. Stay Consistent

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Who cares how good the sex is if you only get it ("it" meaning "good") on your birthday? Who cares how romantic your man is if you can only recall two solid memories? Who cares how special your man makes you feel if it only happens after you've threatened to leave him for the fifth or 50th time?

Many a good relationships have crashed and burned, all because they lacked one very critical component—consistency. When someone is consistent, they are steady. They don't care about what they did last month, week or even yesterday. What matters to them is showing their partner, right in this moment, how special and wonderful they are. And when they get up the next day, they have the same mindset.

To me, consistency is a superpower. And there is a lot of truth to, what you did to get your partner, you need to do to keep them. Consistently so.

When it comes to keeping a relationship healthy and strong, consistency wins the race. No doubt about it at all.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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