After a while, a relationship becomes more about a choice than a feeling, because the honeymoon phase of romance doesn’t last forever. Reality hits and responsibilities, work, kids, and chores become the norm. People get stuck in a routine, through no fault of their own, of course, but life can take a toll on relationships all the same. Just like most things in life, a relationship takes maintenance and care to keep it working. So, if your relationship seems a little stale or off-balance lately, here are a few positive ways to improve it.

Here are 10 things that make a relationship better:

1. Communication is key.

No matter what, communication will always remain a staple in a healthy relationship. You can’t have a lasting relationship without strong communication, because it helps two people stay connected to one another. After a while, couples start to become distant and forget that staying connected to one another takes effort. Eventually, you might start to come home from work and immediately turn on the TV instead of talking to your partner. After a long day, that’s totally understandable, but remember to take time to connect to your partner as well.

2. Remember to say “I love you.”

Just like communication, saying “I love you” to your partner might start to fall to the wayside after a while. We all need to know that we are loved. Even if you often show your partner how you feel, it helps to express your feelings verbally, too. Let your partner know you still love them after everything you’ve been through together, because those three words can really bring a couple closer together.

3. Have mutual goals or interests.

Of course, two people should have their own hobbies and interests outside of the relationship, but it’s also important to share goals and activities with one another. If you don’t already have common hobbies, why not try something new together that you’ve both been interested in? Are you both adrenaline junkies? Then maybe take up skydiving or scuba-diving lessons. If staying grounded is more your thing, try an exercise or cooking class together. Responsibilities can easily eat away at a relationship, so staying connected through common activities is vital.

4. Be able to say “I’m sorry.”

Unfortunately, many people still let their egos run the show in a relationship. However, remember that being right doesn’t matter nearly as much as keeping peace between you and your partner. There will be times when you’re right and times when your partner is right. In fact, that’s completely normal and healthy in a partnership. Being able to acknowledge that you’re wrong sometimes will help build trust between both of you.

5. Forgive one another.

Everyone will hurt you at some point; you just have to know who’s worth the pain. In a strong partnership, both people know how to work through their problems maturely and objectively, without adding fuel to the fire. Couples may argue from time to time, but the strongest couples always make amends and show each other forgiveness.

6. Know how to compromise.

Life can’t always happen the way you want it to, especially in a partnership. When it’s just you, you can do pretty much whatever you want without having to answer to anyone. However, in a relationship, it takes two people compromising and sacrificing to make things work. Let your partner choose a restaurant to eat at or a movie to watch, even if you don’t necessarily like it. Next time, you can pick something that suits you, but allow your partner to have a chance to explore their interests, too.

7. Be here now.

Basically, this means to stay in the present moment as much as possible. Don’t think too much about the future or the past, because that will only lead to discontent. Just bring as much joy to the here and now as possible. Also, be thankful you get to share the precious moments with someone you love.

8. Take time for self-care.

Life requires a lot from us humans, so any chance you get, make time for yourself. Take a hot bath, read a book you’ve been wanting to open for some time, watch a show you love, or go on a solo road trip. No matter your style, just make sure to look out for #1 every once in a while, because time alone will help strengthen your relationship.

how to fix a broken relationship

9. Don’t get too comfortable.

After a while of being with your partner, you might neglect certain things, such as cleaning the kitchen or fixing yourself up for dinner. Of course, you naturally won’t put in the same effort as you did in the beginning of the relationship, but this doesn’t mean you should totally let things slide, either. Maybe have a set day each week to clean house or get your hair done. Also, go on a dinner date once in a while so you can keep that spark alive with your partner.

10. Support one another’s dreams.

This should be a given, but you might notice that things start to be more about “we” and less about “you.” In other words, a couple starts to merge their interests and desires until they have become one unit, and they forget that both of them have individuals dreams and goals. Even if your partner’s goals don’t match your own, remember to always support them as you would want them to support you.