5 ways to strengthen your relationship
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
19th March, 20140 Comments
Anyone who has been in a relationship, romantic or otherwise will know that it is not a static entity. Relationships ebb and flow, sometimes you will be closer and sometimes further apart.
With couples, there is often a pattern of a honeymoon period, where you want to spend all the time you have together, followed by a normalisation period where roles become more defined and the real world starts to come in with activities and outside interests. Then as the relationship develops you will have roles inside and outside of the relationship hopefully leading to a long term relationship where the relationship is the anchor that stabilises your life. Yet to navigate your relationship through this journey and the normal ebb and flow requires attention and care and there are simple steps you can take.
1. Learn to argue
In any relationship you are going to disagree, so learning how to fight in a respectful way is important. Usually one of the first casualties in a fight is listening. We want to prove our own point of view so we stop listening to our partner. If you can both listen as well as defend your position you will have the potential to improve your relationship as you understand your partner better. The objective becomes improving the relationship not winning the argument.
2. Keep something of that honeymoon period alive
Over time we can start to take our partner for granted. Other things get in the way - children, work, relatives and friends. We are too tired, too lazy or too busy and we know that our partner is the one person who will understand. Rather like an emotional bank, however, you can only make withdrawals for a period of time. Don’t take your relationship for granted make it a priority. So re-kindle the spark of the honeymoon when you first met, spend some time together, go for a walk, see a movie, and reconnect. Remember what started it all, routine is nice but it routine can kill relationships.
3. Stay connected to each other
Ask yourself when you last had a meaningful conversation with your partner, one which wasn’t about the administration of you or your kids lives. A deep relationship includes a trust, a certainty in knowing what the other is thinking and feeling and that comes from regular checking in on their emotional state. Checking on things like how they feel about their day, or if they need to talk anything through, showing compassion and support all helps to keep and strengthen that connection and support. Find time to work on your relationship.
4. Spend time apart
Healthy relationships also include time when the couple are away from each other, there is a need to have a sense of who you are as an individual so that you can be wholly part of the relationship. It is unrealistic to imagine that your partner will share every one of your interests so it allows them to be fully a person and allows you to support them in the relationship.
Physical intimacy and sex are extensions of the healthy relationship. Of course we all go through cycles of mismatched libidos or feeling too tired, but physical closeness is an important part of the bonding in a romantic relationship and often one of the first signs of problems. If there are problems in the bedroom then perhaps you should look more generally at your relationship. Yet, sex is too narrow a definition of intimacy for the longevity of relationships, holding hands, snuggling up together on the sofa, closeness anything that lets your partner know that you and only you are special to me.
So practical ways to stay together, and a secret number six if there are problems get professional help sooner rather than later. Like most problems the sooner you tackle them the easier they can be to come to a solution so don't delay, get help.
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