I would like to begin by saying that this piece is not directed for abusive relationships or for couples who are poisonous to one-another. If you believe your partner is abusive, narcissistic, or has a poisonous personality, it's best to step away from that relationship or seek professional help. Instead, I would like to discuss my ideas on what makes a couple happy and well-functioning and how to improve that connection. Sometimes a relationship can flourish but instead we abandon it too quickly because we might not know how to work on it.

We have all heard that the most important thing in a relationship is communication, and if you haven't heard it before, here I am with the news. We should step a little further back and begin with love as being the central connection between the couple, but note that it's not enough to keep the relationship happy. Before you decide whether or not you should work on the relationship or improving the relationship, make sure you and your significant other share love.

Over the course of your relationship, that love will shift and change, you'll see it fluctuate in different levels. I believe that this is a normal thing because people change. There will be periods of time that you or your partner might become depressed. Worries will develop from the external world or the internal self, which will cause a shift in emotions and views. There are also different stages in a relationship, like the beginning phase of discovery and excitement. Then there's a stage of balancing and harmonizing with each other's habits. Then there's a point when you two become used to each other. Of course, there's much more, but these are some key phases. Most importantly though, whether the love increases or decreases a little, make sure that the love is still there and the relationship isn't just wastefully running time.

And now, we dive back into communication and all the other steps that we can take to make sure that the loving couple sustains a healthy and happy relationship.

I've noticed that not all of us have proper education on a healthy relationship, and if we never had a real-life example, we get ideas of what love is from the movies. These ideas have been seeping into our brains for years and we think this must be what love means. It's not. Many times, our partners will sense when we feel down, when we need something, or when we want to have surprises. It won't happen all the time, although we may dream. How do we get to the point of understanding our partners wants and needs? We communicate with them.

When you feel like you haven't received enough attention, let your partner know. When you feel like the world is on your shoulders and that's why you haven't been able to give attention, let your partner know. You'll be amazed at how much work can be done, as a team, by simply voicing your concerns. Don't let the concerns bottle up and explode in a moment of fury; notice the patterns and have an adult conversation. There are other issues and concerns you may want to address, but this was just one example.

Equally as important to voicing your concerns and communicating them, let your partner know what you hope to get from the relationship. Let them know what you like about them, try to boost the positive things they bring to the relationship so their efforts get recognized and rewarded. People need affirmation and guidance on the rights and wrongs. No one can read minds.

Besides the common but necessary communication advice, use the element of surprise. One of you might be better than the other at surprises, but it should come from both sides. Pack a bag and take a spontaneous weekend road trip. Turn off all the tech, light some candles, and give him or her a back rub (even if they didn't ask). Learn a new recipe and whip it up. Try somewhere new to eat for dinner instead of the restaurant you both enjoy. If it's tasty, then what a wonderful shared experience, and if it's awful, you'll have a story for a long time.

Space is another element to practice. I get why it's nice to always be around your loved one because honestly, I can be a needy person sometimes as I'm sure there are others like this. But the relationship has three parts, you, the other, and you together. Leave room for you to be you, and for him or her to be their self. When you give one-another room, you hit a refresh button on yourselves and on the relationship.

Make sure that the relationship has respect and understanding. It sounds so simple, but sometimes we can forget. We must discipline ourselves to be better to ourselves and to those around us. If I can harshly criticize and put myself down, and I love myself the most, then what makes me believe I won't do so to others. Make sure you give your significant other the respect that we sometimes forget to give ourselves. That means listen to their interests, respect their bodies and boundaries, engage in the things important to them such as their work or passion. And when your partner speaks, actively listen and comprehend their words to understand them.

Try to engage these things in your relationship and you might notice a difference in its quality. Relationships take work to function. Work towards a happier and healthier relationship because when we give up or stop trying, the relationship will fall apart.