Relationships: a Definition for Help
The Oxford dictionaries proffer three definitions for the word relationship:
- The state of being connected by love or marriage
- The way in which two or more people behave towards each other
- An emotional and sexual association between two people
So, when we think about relationships, a combination of these things will spring to mind; perhaps a connection, behaviour towards each other and an emotional association. As we examine all relationships we see that these are present to a greater or lesser degree - yet we seem surprised that if we ignore these things then relationships start to break down.
Often when couples come to counselling they will say that their partner has changed, or that they don’t know them anymore. Perhaps they are spending less time together, or feel that shared interests have been lost on the seas of familiarity or family life. While this is understandable for a while, if nothing is done to value the connection to pull you back in the relationship then you can drift apart and become unable to share the same interests or space. It is not anyone in particular's fault; you simply stopped connecting. Couples stop talking or going out together, friends no longer pick up the phone for a chat...then it becomes difficult to fix because the connection has fallen into disrepair. Yet all is not lost - as long as both want the connection you can start to find your way back to each other by finding the things that you value about your partner or friends.
Again, a common complaint of couples is that the other does not value them; there is no tangible demonstration of the connection. This can be as simple as doing housework or cooking through to more fundamental problems like staying out with friends all night or drinking to excess. Always remember that behaviour can only be changed by the person with the behaviour. While you can provide a supportive environment for the person to change in, you cannot physically change them. You can offer ultimatums, but that is changing them by fear and that is not healthy in the long run. It is important that you express your disappointment in behaviours so that the other person has the opportunity to change.
Finally, emotion; it exists in all relationships (even your boss) and making sure that this emotion matches how you treat the person in what you say and do is key to a healthy relationship. If you are upset with your boss, find a way to express that (not necessarily to them). If you love your partner but don’t say it, how are they to know - telepathy? Ultimately, our emotions are on the inside and we can be adept at hiding them or misreading others, so make sure that your partner knows how you feel and this will go a long way to helping your relationship.
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