If I had to name the top skill for improving relationships, my favorite is this:
The practice of curiosity.
Remember when you first met your partner and how you could talk to them for hours? You wanted to know everything about him or her. You were fascinated. You listened, laughed, cried. You felt emotional, connected, and present. And you didn't judge.
But then time passed, and imperceptibly your thinking shifted. You stopped being as curious. Like you had learned everything there was to know about them. And started being less present.
That's just people. It's what our big brains do. As soon as possible when learning a new thing, it automates that thing, in order to move through life with efficiency. Just like when you learned to drive a car. First you were very conscious and paying attention to everything: when to brake, how to park, etc. But by now you drive from point A to point B and half the time you don't even remember how you got there!
Unfortunately we even automate people: we stop paying attention.
When we shift into thinking we know everything there is to know about them, then there's nothing new to learn. And that's the recipe for relationships that feel lifeless, predictable, and a bit boring.
But you don't have to let that happen.
Good relationships are characterized by this one thing: the couple stays interested in each other. They keep learning about what makes each other tick. This mindset of curiosity is similar to the way children engage with life - noticing everything and interested in how it works.
After all, you are growing and evolving all the time, right? And you want people to see you with fresh eyes every day - not to think they know everything there is to know about you.
So practice the habit of curiosity. See your partner (or your child, or friend, or the world) with interest - like a new culture or language you're still interested in understanding. Get present and curious - like with the eyes of a child - and you will never be bored!
Oh, and one more thing. Being curious about people has an additional striking feature: it feels like love to them.