A relationship is only as good as its least healthy partner. Only after each person has begun identifying and addressing their own contribution to what isn’t working in the relationship can meaningful progress begin on becoming a thriving couple.

The brain shuts down with intensity.

Aggressive words and disrespect halt useful communication when escalating anger becomes the dysfunctional focus. Brain processing shuts down when intensity rises. The brain goes into survival mode. Being kind or quiet is the first non-negotiable step in any problem-solving conversation.

In thriving relationships each member feels safe and valued.

Check inside yourself and with your loved one to see if these feelings are present in your interactions and if not determine what it would take to restore them.

In addition to saying “sorry,” make sure your actions reflect that sentiment.

“Sorry,” said with no heartfelt explanation or improved future behavior deteriorates your credibility and actually increases distance in a relationship. Actions, not words define your true feelings.

Plan and dream together.

This is relationship glue, plain and simple.

Make enough space for each of you to be who you are.

The price of being a successful couple is accepting that your partner is entitled to be different from you, and still caring for them as you do yourself. Mature love is intentionally inconveniencing yourself to make the other person happy, because making your loved one happy makes you happy.prog