I've written a lot about healthy relationships and what aspects successful couples have that make them unique. As I continue my couples therapy work I continue to gather more information about relationships, the importance of good couples communication, their most significant sticking points - and what brings them together.

Here are my top 5 relationship tips for having and maintaining a healthy relationship:

1) Learn to Communication Effectively: This is probably the most important tip of them all because without good couples communication, the rest can go "south" pretty quickly. Research "active listening" and "I-feel" statements for a good start.

2) Educate Yourself About Emotional Safety: "Emotional safety" is one of the cornerstones of my couples counseling work. People have slightly different ideas about what this means and I have a pretty specific definition that can be found in an article I wrote here: Healthy Relationships: Assessing the Emotional Safety. Basically, the more emotionally safe couples feel together - the more connected they are.

3) Maintain Relationship Balance: Relationships are like two overlapping circles with the middle section representing the "relationship" and the outer rings representing the "individuals" in the relationship. Usually the healthiest relationships are those where there is attention paid to all parts but couples will probably have slightly different versions of what works for them - which is ok!

4) Check in With Each Other: Life is so hectic these days that a lot of couples forget to check in with each other. Kids, jobs, friends, bills...the list of distracters can go on and on. I encourage couples to plan atleast one time a week where they know they can spend uninterrupted time to be together to check in. "How are you? What's going on?" It's amazing how easy it can be to forget to do this and the distance between two people can slowly grow.

5) Don't Forget to Laugh: Humor is the great conflict de-escalater and a wonderful release. I'm always encouraged by couples I'm working with who laugh a lot, have private jokes, pet names for each other or whatever! If you lighten up in your relationship it will pay great dividends.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Brookes Kift is a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, California. She has written numerous mental health and relationship articles, tips and tools which can be seen on her San Diego therapy and resource website at www.lisakifttherapy.com