Linda Lewis Griffith

How to keep relationships healthy: Use your ‘A’ game

Lexington Herald-Leader

Want your relationship to remain vibrant and healthy? Make sure it gets plenty of Vitamin A.


Affection demonstrates the physical bond between two loving people. It spans a wide range of behaviors, from sexual intimacy to playing footsie under the table. Every time couples display affection, they recharge their relational energies. When they do it on a daily basis, their batteries stay full to the max. It’s easy to identify couples who don’t have enough affection. They sleep in separate bedrooms. They don’t kiss each other in the morning. They sit on separate ends of the sofa. Lack of affection, however, is easily correctable. Make sex a high priority. Touch and cuddle as often as possible. Say “I love you” every day.


Put down your cellphone. Turn off the TV. Listen when your loved one is talking. Your relationship is at stake. The simple act of being attentive has far-reaching implications. Attention says, “You’re important to me.” It gives couples a chance to connect and address any issues that have recently cropped up. Yes, your life is hectic. Don’t make that an excuse. Talk to each other for at least 20 minutes each day. Schedule date nights once a week. Converse while you’re driving in the car.


Appreciation means expressing gratitude for all your partner does. Those efforts can be monumental: caring for an ailing parent, going to a job, building a house or funding a college account. Or they can be small: picking flowers for the dining table or changing the oil in the car. Appreciation tells the recipient, “I value what you do for us.” It’s equally beneficial for the speaker because it focuses attention on what is working in the relationship. Point out three nice things your partner does for you. Say “thank you” often. Compliment your partner in front of your kids and friends.


An occasional, well-timed memory lapse is healthy for all relationships. Some partners (and ladies, it’s usually us) cling to grudges and past hurts like limpets on the bottom of a ship. They dredge up old issues. They experience the pain as if freshly inflicted. They berate their partners for bad behavior, even though the transgression may have happened long ago. At first, spouses feel powerless. No matter how sincerely they atone for their crimes, they can’t get out of the dog house. Then they rightfully become angry for their unfair treatment. Everyone is entitled to their feelings. But extend the olive branch as soon as possible and let the matter fade into the past.


Everyone wants to feel adored. Ideally, our spouse is our biggest fan. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. Couples snipe at each other mercilessly. They tear each other to emotional shreds. They feel vulnerable in each other’s presence. Decide instead to be your partner’s head cheerleader. Let them know they’re terrific. “Ooh” and “ahh” at their every achievement. Of course, they’re still only human. But in your eyes, they’ve already won gold.

Linda Lewis Griffith’s column is special to The Tribune. She is a local marriage and family therapist. Visit