Practical relationship maintenance and repair
When you meet, you hope that your relationship will make you happy. You have found the person that will love you, make you their priority, and offer the security that offers lifelong promise. While not naive, you know that into all relationships a little rain must fall, so there will be conflict and difficult times. Many people, however, hit a crisis in their relationship. They feel that the relationship has changed and that solving the problems has become overwhelming.
There are of course many causes of problems in a relationship, but often there are a common set of signs. You feel that you argue all of the time, but that problems never seem to get resolved. You communicate badly, and angry outbursts or periods of silence have become common. Perhaps there is a sense that some subjects have become so toxic that you just avoid them. One or both of you may feel taken for granted in the relationship.
It is possible to work on a relationship to rebuild, where both people are willing to work together and find what holds them together. Relationship counselling can be one aspect of that process; however, there are things that a couple can do together.
Improve relationship communication
Good communication is the foundation for building a good relationship. At the start of a relationship, we usually talk about everything - all the detail of our lives. As time goes on, we talk less and less, taking it for granted that our partner will know how we feel or what we think. Life often gets in the way as career, family or children come along, and we talk to each other less about our relationship.
How we communicate is important. Listening is as important, if not more so than saying how you feel. It can be hard in the middle of an argument or when you don’t agree; acknowledging the other person’s feelings will make the solutions easier to find.
When you find it hard to discuss difficult subjects, use rules to keep discussion boundaries. For example, no interrupting and taking timed turns to speak to help you. Start statements with “I think” or “I feel” and this will help to keep the discussion solution-focused.
Building a better relationship
At the beginning of the relationship, often all we could think about was how we could spend time together. A common problem is that, as couples have gone through life, there are natural changes. Often these are the priority, and our relationships often get shoved to the back of the queue and forgotten about. Rediscovering the reasons that you are together can help to build your relationship and bring you closer together.
Perhaps you would expect a relationship article to suggest planning “date nights”, and these are helpful. They offer time spent together with few other of life’s normal distractions but choose things that you will both value and where you can interact.
Spending time together is good, but showing each other you love and value each other is important. It offers security and the longevity that a long-term relationship needs. Complement each other, remember to appreciate things, and let your partner know you value them.
Building trust, security, and respect
If communication is the cement of relationships, then surely some of the bricks are trust, security, and respect. Trust can be about insecurity - do you trust your partner when they are away from you in the company of others? Trust can also be about their values - do you trust their judgement? If these feel fragile or you have different values, you need to discuss what the boundaries are and how you are going to tackle the problems. The trust really is key to feeling secure in a long-term relationship.
Ultimately, perhaps it is about how partners feel in a relationship. Do they feel appreciated, supported and loved? Do they feel listened to, and are their suggestions and opinions taken seriously? Do they feel special?
Couples fix relationship problems with a combination of approaches. Taking time to work with your partner to work on the problems, planning what you need to change, overcomes the difficulties. Getting help from a relationship counsellor can help, but there are simple practical things they can do on their own. By working on their relationship, they can have a lifelong partner that offers the security they wanted.