Three steps to a happy relationship
How well do you and your partner communicate with each another. Poor communication is at the heart of many of the relationship problems that end in the therapy rooms in the UK today. At the start of a relationship there is passion, both partners want to be with one another, want to listen and understand one another, spend a lot of time together. There is a desire to know your partner and to share in each other’s world and happiness. Yet this honeymoon period has a finite life and soon if the relationship is to last it settles into a pattern of domesticity where you spend less time together and perhaps take on individual roles in the relationship (perhaps one person shops and the other cooks). You develop in your communication, so that you understand what your partner needs from you to stay happy in the partnership.
Sometimes the intimacy dies and you spend your time talking of the things to be done and focusing on problems, rather than balancing it with a time for you as a couple. Perhaps it’s holding hands as you walk along, or cuddling on the sofa while watching TV, while it almost doesn’t matter, it is more about the closeness and the ability to be vulnerable. As one client put it "I want to have someone I feel comfortable doing nothing with".
How do you reach this utopia and move from a relationship with problems to one that brings happiness to your life? As you might imagine the answer is not simple and differs a great deal from couple to couple. Yet there are some basic principles that counsellors will tell you can make all the difference.
So what can you do?
Listen more than you speak
Most of us would describe ourselves as good communicators, yet usually we are thinking about how well we can express ourselves and our ideas. In a relationship the greater skill is to be able to listen, and to listen not only to what is being said but what is not being said. Ask questions; clarify when you don’t understand what your partner thinks or feels. They will appreciate the time you are taking to understand.
Remember that you don’t have to agree on everything
Life would be very dull if couples agreed on all aspects of their life. So in a relationship, disagreement is a given. It is how you handle disagreement that makes for a happy relationship. Listen, express yourself, try to approach the subject with an open mind. Remember if the argument is too heated you can take a break for 10 minutes and come back.
Find time for each other
Remember when you first met. You tried to spend all the time you could together and lock the rest of the world out. Often as time goes on it seems like a reversal takes place and the world takes over. It’s important to reconnect regularly. Find the person that you wanted to be with and enjoy being with them, it creates that sense of intimacy of bonding that makes it easier to function as a couple.
In summary, working at relationships is key to making them last. It is important that you learn to communicate if you are both to work at it and deliver a lasting relationship. So perhaps by following the steps above you can avoid the need for relationship counselling.
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