Give 90%

2My parents advised what they did in their own marriage: “both of you always think about giving 90% to your partner and you both will be very happy.” They meant it’s so important to think about how your partner is feeling, to stand in their shoes, to be giving and compromising, and emotionally generous. That 10% is for the understanding that sometimes it’s also OK to be a bit selfish, to place your needs first, or stand firm on something. They also made clear that this only works if you are both giving 90%.

I just celebrated my 26th wedding anniversary. I definitely think about my spouse’s needs and feelings the majority of the time and try to be compromising. In return I feel he is 90% thinking of me and how to consider my feelings and be supportive and loving. Sometimes this means giving something up, but actually most times this means we both get what we want and we both feel very loved, supported, and that we are in each other’s corner. I don’t feel afraid to be giving, because he really has my best interests at heart. We are a terrific team and often we agree on what we want. And when we don’t, we tend to take turns supporting the other’s wants.

Dr. Gail Saltz, is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian’s Weill-Cornell Medical College. She has partnered with Tylenol on the new #HowWeFamily program and national study to share more information about the modern American family. For more information visit

Take it easy

1The best relationship advice I’ve ever gotten, and that I give, is “easy does it.” Too often we get caught up in fear-based needs to control our partner. This pull becomes a destructive compulsion that corrodes the integrity of the relationship. It replaces respect and compassion with anger and resentment. It destroys the quality of our lives and over time, the relationship.

This advice impacted the way I approach romantic relationships in that I allowed for a lot more space, which in turn allowed for less reactivity, more peace, happiness, and respect. The classic struggle of all relationships is finding the right calculus in the togetherness-and-autonomy equation. Typically, when a relationship is under stress, one of the partners asks for physical space to break the tension. This is suboptimal. The best way to incorporate space is by being proactive and providing emotional rather than physical space. To do this, partners need to allow each other the space to be themselves and to have their experiences without trying to control the outcome or think that you are responsible for their lives and reaction. It’s hard work and takes practice, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Relationship advice tip 4: Stay connected by being a good listener

10A good listener is someone who hears more than the words being spoken. He or she can pick up on the emotional overtones and undertones in what is being said. Listening in this way engages the brain, the heart, and curiously, also the stomach, which alerts us to danger.

Good listeners are rare, but when we find them we can’t get enough of them. People who listen to us make us feel understood and valued and the good feelings we get about ourselves make us want to be with them. A great deal of emphasis is put on talking, but if you can learn to listen in a way that makes another person feel heard and understood, they will value being with you. Good listeners are often regarded as “charismatic” because we can’t seem to get enough of them.

The ability to listen is at the very heart of conflict resolution. Few people will listen to us unless we have the ability to listen to them first! Listening doesn’t require us to agree and it won’t change your mind but listening will help you find common points of view that can help build consensus.

Do things together that benefit others

One the most powerful ways of staying close and connected is to jointly focus on something you and your partner value that creates a common focus of interest outside of the relationship. A cause, a project, church or political work that has meaning for each of you and jointly engages your interest and effort can keep a relationship fresh and interesting. Doing things together that we view as beneficial to others is a process that our highly social human brain experiences as rewarding. It is also a way to stimulate the relationship by exposing it to new people and ideas.

Sometimes the interest that aligns us is a physical or adventure activity that we can have fun exploring together. We renew interest in one another by jointly taking on new challenges and opportunities that give us fresh ways of interacting with and viewing each other.

If you need more relationship help and advice

Sometimes problems in a relationship may seem too complex or overwhelming for a couple to handle on their own. In that case, it’s important to reach out together for help. There are a number of options available, including:

Couples counseling. It’s a big investment, and time, energy, focus and commitment are needed from both people to make a difference, but you might consider couples or marriage counseling to resolve your differences. Both parties need to be willing and able to honestly communicate what they need, face the issues that arise in counseling, and then make the necessary changes. It’s important also that both people feel comfortable with the counselor.
Spiritual advice. Some couples benefit from spiritual advice from a religious figure such as a pastor or rabbi. This tends to work best if both have similar convictions of faith and a good relationship with the spiritual advisor.
Emotional Intelligence building. Try using Helpguide’s Emotional Intelligence Toolkit, a free utility for building emotional health and emotional intelligence. This in-depth course provides articles, videos, and audio meditations designed to help you put the skills of emotional intelligence and communication into practice.
Individual therapy. Sometimes one person may need specialized help. For example, someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one may need counseling to help process the grief. If your loved one needs help, don’t feel like you are a failure for not providing everything he or she needs. No one can fulfill everyone’s needs, and getting the right help can make a tremendous difference in your relationship.

The 14 Best Things About Having a Boyfriend

61. No more fumbley, weird “I don’t even know what you like” first-time sex. That’s not to say that boyfriend sex is fool-proof but your odds of having someone accidentally pull your hair because their stupid elbow was on it go down by a lot.

2. He can not reply to your text and you won’t go into a panic attack shame spiral wondering if he’s ghosting. You can say “he’s probably just busy” and know for a fact that yes, that is why. It’s like having an oxygen tank at all times.

3. You always have someone to zip up the back of your dress so you don’t have to do that weird acrobatic arm thing. Even if it is probably good for your deltoids or something. It still blows.

4. You always have someone to split food with for those days when you feel like ordering like a monster but then remember you have a normal human stomach. And then on days when you somehow have a superhuman stomach…

5. You have twice the food always. Oh what’s that? You’re not hungry? Guess who is? It’s me!

6. No more Tinder dates to run screaming from while wearing shoes that are really hard to run in. Plus, no after-work drink dates means you can actually get through the work week without a hangover from hell. Hello, productivity and a general lack of nausea.

7. You can do any embarrassing thing on the planet and he will still think sun shines out of your butt. Which it honestly could. You don’t know. You can’t see down there.

8. You finally at long last have someone to suffer through family dinners with. There is no better feeling than kicking your boyfriend under the table when your grandad straight up starts eating that huge bowl of gravy with his own spoon.

9. You get to double date with your friends aka you get to spy on you friends’ boyfriends to make sure they’re good enough. And run over the data you have learned with your boyfriend to make sure you didn’t miss any #facts.

10. There will always be someone to like your selfies. You can now post freely without fear of Zero Likes.

11. You automatically have approximately 40 percent more space in your brain because it’s not begrudgingly focused on meeting The One. Obviously this much of your brain isn’t focused on that but jesus christ, sometimes it feels like it’s supposed to be and it’s exhausting.

12. Valentine’s Day is no longer a day of chalky candy-filled dread. It might be a day of excited joy or a day when you both do the same things you always do, but it holds no power over you any more, so suck it, VDay.

13. All the time you used to spend online dating can now be spent on doing things that make your soul happy. Instead of killing it with a machete because jesus christ, one of these has to be good, right? (Not really).

14. Couples costumes! I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say I’ve had a lot of ~*iDeAs*~ about this lately, so FYI, next person I date: I have a whole list of potential couples costumes. We’re set for three years, minimum.

Relationship advice tip 2: Keep physical intimacy alive

9Touch is a fundamental part of human existence. Studies on infants have shown the importance of regular, loving touching and holding on brain development. These benefits do not end in childhood. Life without physical contact with others is a lonely life, indeed.

Studies have shown that affectionate touch actually boosts the body’s levels of oxytocin, a hormone that influences bonding and attachment. In a committed relationship between two adult partners, physical intercourse is often a cornerstone of the relationship. However, intercourse should not be the only method of physical intimacy in a relationship. Regular, affectionate touch—holding hands, hugging, or kissing—is equally important.
Be sensitive to what your partner likes. While touch is a key part of a healthy relationship, it’s important to take some time to find out what your partner really likes. Unwanted touching or inappropriate overtures can make the other person tense up and retreat—exactly what you don’t want.

Stay in touch emotionally

Emotional communication—awareness of what you’re experiencing emotionally and what your partner is experiencing emotionally—is a fundamental part of good communication and a healthy relationship.

When people stop understanding or having an interest in their own or their partner’s emotions, they stop relating well, especially at stressful times. There is no reason to fear emotions. They are just feeling messages that our brain sends to keep us alive and well. What we do with these messages is a choice. As long as you are connecting emotionally, as well as intellectually, you can empathize with your partner’s experience and work through whatever problem you’re facing.

Watch your partner’s nonverbal cues

So much of our communication is transmitted by what we don’t say. Nonverbal cues—such as eye contact, tone of voice, posture, and gestures such as leaning forward or away, or touching someone’s arm—communicate much more than words. For a relationship to work well, each person has to be receptive to sending and receiving nonverbal cues.

Learning to understand this “body language” can help you better understand what your partner is experiencing. Think about what you are transmitting as well, and if what you say matches what you feel. If you say “I’m fine,” but you clench your teeth and look away, then your body is clearly signaling you are anything but “fine.”

Keep your stress in check so that you can remain emotionally aware

If you’re not calm and focused, you will have difficulties thinking clearly or being emotionally alert and responsive. One of the quickest, most reliable ways to reduce stress quickly is through the senses. But each person responds differently to sensory input, so you need to find things that are soothing to your nervous system.

If you have issues with trust or are not aware of what you feel and the motives behind your choices, you would benefit from HelpGuide’s free emotional intelligence toolkit.

Relationship advice tip 1: Invest quality time in face-to-face contact

8We fall in love looking at one another and listening to one another and if we continue to look and listen in the same attentive and approving ways, we will sustain the falling in love experience. You probably have fond memories of when you were first dating your loved one. Everything may have seemed new and exciting, and you may have spent hours just chatting together or coming up with new, exciting things to try. However, as time goes by, children, demanding jobs, long commutes, different hobbies and other obligations can make it hard to find time together.

So much face-to-face communication has been replaced by digital screen communication. While that’s very good for some purposes, it does not positively impact the brain and nervous system in the same way as face-to-face communication. The emotional cues we and others need to feel loved can only be conveyed in person. Without this kind of investment in quality face-to-face time, communication and understanding start to erode.

Tell your partner what you need, don’t make them guess

It’s not always easy to talk about what we need. Even when we’ve got a good idea of what’s important to us in a relationship, talking about it can make us feel vulnerable, embarrassed, or even ashamed. But everyone needs comfort and understanding from others and providing it to someone we care about is a pleasure rather than a burden. In addition, people change over time. What you wanted and needed five years ago may be different from what you need now.

Simple ways to connect as a couple face to face
Commit to spending some quality time together every day on a regular basis. Even during very busy times just a few minutes of really sharing and connecting can help keep bonds strong.
Find something that you enjoy doing together, whether it is a shared hobby, dance class, daily walk, or sitting over a cup of coffee in the morning.
Try something new together. Doing new things together can be a fun way to connect and keep things interesting. It can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or going on a day trip to a place you’ve never been before.

Love yourself

5You can’t love anyone more than your willingness to love yourself. Through this advice I learned about the importance of caring for my mind, body, and spirit. I liken love to the oxygen mask on a plane. You have to apply it to yourself before applying it to the person next to you. This advice improved my chances of winning my wife’s hand in marriage. She was searching for true love. She wanted someone to spend the rest of her life with. Conveying to her that I loved myself signaled that I could be a pillar of strength and compassion.

Paul C. Brunson, matchmaker and author of It’s Complicated (But It Doesn’t Have to Be): A Modern Guide to Finding and Keeping Love.

You can’t put boundaries on someone else—only yourself. If someone is treating you badly, you can’t change their behavior. But you can ask yourself why you accept it and how you can put a boundary on yourself so that you won’t accept it again. It made me take more responsibility for my role in bad relationships. Instead of feeling like a victim of circumstance, I was empowered to reject bad treatment and choose a different person. Also, [remember that] life is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you believe you are undeserving of happiness, love and prosperity, that’s what the universe will give you.

The hottest, most fun, sexiest, interesting, growth-stimulating, spontaneous, most romantic, most eye-opening relationships or experiences all were not with people that I thought I would end up with. Just because a relationship has a shelf life doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enter into it. This advice allowed me to enjoy each interaction for what it was and not try to make it something it wasn’t. And at the end of the day, our life is just a conglomeration of memories and I have many happy memories to think on. This gives me the freedom to experience all life has to offer!

Other good advice: “Always be unexpected.” This doesn’t have to be in grand gestures, but predictability in a relationship = boring = death of romance. Worst Advice? “Don’t worry, it’ll happen.” If I wanted to learn French, if someone told me “Don’t worry, it’ll happen,” how stupid does that sound?! Dating is a skill set like every other and you get out of it what you put into it.

Relationship Help

7An engaging, secure love relationship can be an ongoing source of support and happiness. Good relationships strengthen all aspects of life: your health, your mind, and your work. However, if the relationship isn’t supportive, it can be a tremendous drain. Relationships get better or worse depending on how much or how little we understand and invest in them. These tips can help keep a healthy relationship strong, or repair trust and love in a relationship on the rocks.

What you expect from relationships is what you are likely to get

Curiously, how you felt about the people who cared for you as an infant may have shaped your expectations of love. If your caretaker was understanding and caring about what you needed, you trusted them and the emotions you felt for them. But if your caretaker was confused, frightened, or hurt you, your expectations of love may have become colored by these experiences. This relationship with your primary caretaker may also have made you feel uncomfortable with emotions–both your own and other people’s.

Most relationship advice comes from the observation of people who are in either very good relationships or bad relationships. People who want their relationship to be good are given advice such as to fight fair, avoid taking out their problems on their partner, and to expect ups and downs. This is good advice, but it doesn’t take into consideration how negative early life experiences shape many people’s view of love and relationships. To change this view, you need to understand why the experience of feeling loved is so important to your brain and nervous system as well as your heart.

Understanding love relationships

Human love has an evolutionary purpose. When we experience feeling loved our brain and nervous system become more relaxed and efficient and we feel happier and are healthier. Feeling loved is nature’s antidote to stress. There is no quicker or more effective way to override too much stress and upset than positive face-to-face communication with someone that makes us feel understood, safe, and valued.

Falling in love is often an experience that seems to just happen to us but preserving the “falling in love” experience takes commitment and effort. Given its rewards, though, it’s well worth the effort.

Stop waiting and live your life

4When I was single and stressed about finding love, my good friend, Scott, a confirmed bachelor, told me this. He said, “Lisa, you need to calm down, chill out, and stop expecting love to be here already. Your sense of entitlement is killing your ability to attract a good man.” When I realized he was right, I stopped waking up every day feeling angry that love hadn’t found me yet. I stopped being resentful that my friends were married and having lives that felt out of reach to me. I stopped feeling like my life was on hold. As cliché as it sounds, I stopped waiting and started living. Overnight, my outlook changed. My results changed, too. I started meeting men wherever I went. I went on dates, had fun, didn’t give my heart away foolishly, and met my husband. I knew he was The One when he told me, “I’ve always been too nice for the naughty girls and too naughty for the nice ones.” That had been my experience with men.

My advice for singles who are struggling in their search is to look within and ask themselves what part of their own life still needs work. When you clean up your side of the street, you make room for a perfectly imperfect person to see you, celebrate you, and love you. And remember that Mr. Right [or Ms. Right] will not be perfect, but will be perfect for you, just as you’ll be perfectly imperfect for him [or her].

You are responsible for your own happiness

3It’s not my partner’s job to make me happy. It’s my job to make me happy. Of course it’s easy to feel good when my partner is acting in a way that I want —but needing them to be a certain way in order for me to feel good —that’s bondage. Thinking that they’re always going to be in a good mood and directing their affectionate attention towards me — while that may be possible during the initial stage of a relationship, is impossible to sustain long-term. I’m responsible for my happiness. My partner is responsible for her happiness. We deliberately focus on things to feel good in our lives and for things to appreciate in one another.

If you’re looking for someone to complete you —or vice versa—you’re looking in the wrong direction for the lasting happiness, wholeness, and fulfillment that you truly seek. Wouldn’t it be better if you could find a way to feel how you want to feel regardless of what you’re partner is saying or doing?

This advice transformed every relationship in my life – not just the romantic ones. Before I knew these things, I was unintentionally holding my partner responsible for my happiness. When I learned that I’m responsible for my own happiness and when I learned how to consistently align with it, my entire world transformed. I now have the freedom to choose if and when I spend time with someone else, and I deliberately choose to spend time with others who get this, too. My relationships are more meaningful, more loving, more free, and most importantly – more fun! And my overall happiness continues to grow, too, regardless of whether I’m in a relationship or not.