6 Rules To Make Your Relationship Healthier

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A lot of my patient couples reach a point in their relationship where a few guidelines may be needed to make their relationship healthier for both of them. Sometimes people are at different places in their relationship. Perhaps one partner is intent on marriage or career and the other doesn’t share the same mind frame. Or one partner is living in the past while the other is ready to move forward. These types of situations may create an uneven playing field for both partners. 

Here are six rules that I share with my patients to get their relationships back on track. I know ‘rule’ as a word can have negative connotations, but trust me, these are healthy suggestions that can bring fun and comradery back into relationships. 


Rule #1 – Be Present

One healthy ground rule for adult relationships is to remind each other to live in the present. Making the most of the present is one way to live a more fulfilling life together. 

Stop and take notice of how your relationship can make you feel. What are you thankful for today? Keeping your mind present can help people feel more appreciative of their partnership. 


Rule #2 – Make Space

This next ground rule is my favorite and the one I find hard to manage with a lot of couples I know—giving each other space to live your own lives. 

We all know a wife or husband that refuses to let their partner go to happy hour, or shopping, or a book reading, without them. While togetherness is great, a healthy relationship should have time for friends and interests that your significant other doesn’t necessarily share. 

It’s healthy to have your individual lives and your life together. This does involve trust and I believe this is where the breakdown often occurs. But trust can be learned and developed. 

It is important to have solo time with your friends and interests—it’ll make you more interesting to each other when you spend time together. And can give you more topics to discuss with each other. 


Rule #3 – Practice Respect

An important ground rule in any adult relationship is mutual respect. 

I remind my patients that it’s ok to not like each other 100% of the time, but you must love each other and respect each other all of the time. 

Mutual admiration is key in a healthy relationship. It also teaches children in your relationship about how to treat others, especially those individuals you care about. 


Rule #4 – Open Communication

Another healthy ground rule is to promise to speak to each other about things that are bothering them. 

A lot of times a concern can take on a life of its own inside our heads. And at the same time your partner might be oblivious to any problem. 

It’s always best to get concerns off your chest and out in the open so they don’t fester and become bigger issues. And a healthy way to initiate conversations like this may be to provide solutions to the perceived problem—coming off as helpful is always better than just complaining. 

For instance, your partner listens to streaming content too loudly for your tastes. Instead of complaining about the volume, take this as an opportunity to share information on wireless headphones that can provide a quiet, comfortable solution for the issue. 


Rule #5 – Stay United

Remember – you’re on the same team! 


Some couples forget that they’re in their relationship together. They need to be true partners and stand behind each other. No one should ever feel alone in a relationship—but because of our technical and busy society, this sometimes feels like the case. 

Choose a common goal that both partners can work together on. Is it a common goal to lose weight, get in better shape, eat better, to become more active, to learn a new skill? It could be creating your own personal book club and each partner agrees to read 5-10 pages each day. Or committing to take dance lessons together just because.  

Each morning partners should briefly connect and discuss their goal and what they’ll do to get them one step closer that day. This can make each partner the other’s cheerleader and biggest fan. 

When partners work together like this, they become unstoppable—and many of my own patients fall in love all over again. 


Rule #6 – Play Together

Too often I hear my patients telling me that relationships are all about hard work. But when I ask when the last time they played together, most cannot remember an instance. 


Playing together can mean a lot of things. From golf to scrabble, whitewater rafting or frisbee golf, there are plenty of options to play as partners. 


There is also another play option to keep in mind. Sex toys. They’re called toys for a reason. There are plenty of pleasure products that offer intimate play. 


Make a play date and bring some fun into your romance.


Let’s do a quick recap:

Rule #1 – Be Present

Rule #2 – Make Space

Rule #3 – Practice Respect

Rule #4 – Open Communication

Rule #5 – Stay United

Rule #6 – Play Together 


Consider these ‘healthy habits’ that can make your relationship better. You don’t have to commit to every rule at the same time. Choose one suggestion and start there. Notice how it can make your relationship feel stronger and better connected. 

Are there healthy habits that you currently have in your own relationship? What rules have worked for you in the past? I would love to hear from you and I’m always here if you have any questions I can help with! 

Dr. Sunny does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.


  • Hi @Confused,

    Thank you for reaching out. I appreciate you sharing that you realize the reasons why your wife doesn’t want to try a threesome. This means you’re listening to your partner, which is part of having a solid relationship.

    First, to address that fact that she appears aroused during foreplay and sex that include references to a threesome—this is because her body is physically reacting to YOU. As well as the thought of a threesome as a fantasy.

    There’s a big difference between a fantasy acted out in real life and one that remains a part of imagination. It appears that your wife may appreciate the fantasy but does not wish to make it a reality. It’s as simple as that.

    I would suggest bringing a lifelike sex toy into your relationship first to see how you both care for an additional penis and/or vagina added to the mix.
    The Pussy Ultraskyn Palm Pal – https://www.pinkcherry.ca/collections/male-masturbators-pocket-strokers/products/ur3-pussy-palm-pal-in-white
    the Real Skin Whoppers Dildo – https://www.pinkcherry.ca/collections/dildo-sex-toys-realistic-dildos/products/real-skin-whoppers-6-5-dildo-flesh

    Dr. Sunny

    Dr. Sunny
  • I would like to try a threesome (with either another male or another female) but my wife tells me she doesn’t like the idea. There’s a lot packaged with her not wanting to try; jealously, insecurities, potential regret, and a lot of fear … being caught, being “outed” with a big fear being one of us building an emotional attachment to the third person. For many years, we’ve pillow-talked about having a threesome and often when we’re having playtime that includes threesome talk, it leads to penetrative sex. I’m confused as in the moment, she seems really into the idea but then after, tells me she was only saying those things for my benefit and she got nothing out of it, even though she appeared to me, to be very sexually aroused (very wet); thus leading from touching and kissing to penetrative sex.

  • Hi @RedFox69,

    Thank you for your message. You have a very captivating predicament that many of our readers may be interested in.

    For those readers who aren’t familiar with the terms you’re using, pansexuals are individuals who have sexual, romantic or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity. Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind. While poly refers to polyamory. Which traditionally is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the informed consent of all partners involved.

    I understand what your feelings are and the parameters of what you’re considering. Sexual encounters and emotional entanglements are two different situations—and I believe this is where your conundrum lies.

    First, I suggest you be true to yourself. Regret creates resentment in certain instances. One thing that you did mention was that your partner would “prefer” poly. This sounds like you both have good communication. So, I suggest you share with your partner your reservations and the intensity of your emotional attachment. It’s the emotional feelings that you have that are at the heart of the sentiments you describe—jealously, uncertainty, insecurity. It sounds like you’re looking for a deeper commitment and this is what I recommend you discuss with your partner.

    I don’t feel like it truly matters what sexual identifiers mean in this situation because the important issue is that your heart seems to want something deeper with your partner, a relationship that will continue to allow you to feel safe and secure. This is the ‘meat and potatoes’ of your current circumstance, and this is what I believe needs to be discussed with your partner so that you can each navigate a beneficial future for you both.

    Be brave @RedFox69 and share your feelings with your partner.

    Please let me know how your talks go. And reach out if you have any other questions I may be able to help with.

    Dr. Sunny

    Dr. Sunny
  • My bf and I are both pansexuals. He is poly I am not. We swing and swap but I’m not sure I can do poly. I’m trying to learn as much as I can about it before I consider trying it. My issues, jealous, envious, insecurities and I feel it may affect my self confidence. It’s one thing to share his body but emotions and feelings…. if it was with another man or transgender I would feel differently than it being with another woman. I couldn’t help but compare myself to her. My bf is ok with it being just the 2 of us but I do know he’d prefer poly, I’d like to make an effort. So… where do I begin to learn to not be jealous or how to deal with my jealousy. Also due to us being pansexual he thinks it’s morally wrong for me to not want him to be with 1 specific gender. I don’t know if he’s right or full of shot. Thoughts?


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Dr. Sunny does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

Dr. Sunny Rodgers is a clinician, author, and speaker who has worked in the wellness industry since 2000. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, a Master of Arts in Clinical Sexology, and is an accredited Sexual Health Educator. She is the Founder of The Institute of Intimate Health, an Ambassador for the American Sexual Health Association, regular lecturer for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Sexual Confidence Coach for the Marigold App, and a professional Sex Toy Concierge™. Rodgers hosted a popular weekly show on Playboy Radio, has been an expert guest on several TV and radio programs, and is a regular contributor to HuffPost, Men's Health, Cosmo, Bustle, and many more publications.