Could Your Relationships Use Some Work? Here's How to Love Better

How to Love Better
Aimee Custis Photography

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Latina Magazine.

If your relationships could use some work, It’s time to take an honest look at your Issues and learn the best ways to have happier, healthier, more loving bonds with everyone in your life — from your hermana to your hombre. Whatever your sitch, we’ve got the fix.

Cue Drake and pop the champagne: Valentine’s Day is on the way, and love vibes are in the air. but let’s be real: love can be a battlefield, not only with your romantic partner, but in tricky relationships with your family, friends, and — perhaps the most overlooked of all — yourself.

MORE: 10 Ways Your're Being a Total Pendeja

It can be easy to let one, or even all, of these unions slide, but “relationships, like every other aspect of our lives, take work,” says Cynthia Santiago-Borbón, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in Latina wellness. “It’s about what you put into them — consistent, steady effort.” ready to roll up your sleeves and dive in? Start by getting to the root of the problem.

How to Love Better… With Your Partner

The issue: You’re in a romance rut.

The fix: You don’t need to book a tropical vacation to rekindle the fire. Try small acts of kindness that show big love. for example, “give each other a heartfelt hello and good-bye when you come and go,” says Gretchen Rubin, modern self-help guru and author of The happiness Project. Think: real hugs and legit kisses (on the lips!). These actions take only a second but can create lots of warm fuzzies first thing in the morning or after a rough day at work.

The issue: You’re snuggling with your phones instead of each other.

The fix: Be the change you want to see in your bedroom (or at your dinner table). Set a good example by charging your phone in another room, and focus on chatting up your partner instead. You can’t force him or her to follow suit: “the only person you can change is yourself,” Rubin says. But, funny enough, the people close to you tend to catch on quickly. “If one person in the relationship’s habits change, it will affect other people’s habits,” Rubin says, “for better or worse.”

The issue: He expects you to be his lover and his therapist.

The fix: Taking care of all of his emotional needs and yours, too, is a lot, even for a superwoman like you (and it doesn’t help him mature, either). “Bringing him comfort is a beautiful thing, but you’re not responsible for alleviating his anxiety,” says Borbón. “That’s his job.” so set boundaries. If he’s really struggling with a problem, suggest he get professional help — and support him all the way.

The issue: All you do is bicker. (“You never wash the dishes...” or “you always leave your thong on the floor...”)

The fix: Practice saying “thank you” to each other — every single night — and sharing one thing you appreciated about the other that day, suggests Borbón. “Taking time to share words of gratitude says ‘I’m looking for everything that’s right about you, as opposed to focusing my energy on what’s wrong.’ ”