Ten tips for couples
As individuals, we crave many types of relationships and connections, but these take time, effort and dedication. Maintaining and prospering in a relationship, and a romantic one in particular, from time to time requires hard work, so here are ten tips to help improve your relationships.
1. Give yourself a reality check and remember that you are two individuals with a different set of experiences, beliefs and world views. How you were brought up will largely define a great deal of your attitude to relationships.
2. The other person isn't likely to be perfect, as no one is. Issues, whether big or small, need to be negotiated in order for a successful relationship. It’s important to avoid assumptions. Assume makes an ass out of u and me.
3. If you’re conflicting over money, for example, there may be underlying problems which have been displaced and are left unresolved. Relationships shouldn’t be about money, yet it’s common that issues over finance are the breakdown of lots of partnerships. Try to decipher the real root of the money conflict so you can resolve efficiently.
4. If you want to improve communication, the best time to talk is when things are going well and you’re relaxed as a couple. Issues don’t get resolved during an argument because anger and raised voices bring up defences which prevent resolution. Try to always be honest no matter how afraid you are. Remember, your partner is supposed to be on your side.
5. This may be bad news given the culture in which we live right now, but for most people I see, sexual infidelity, including persistent flirting, is unacceptable in a long term relationship. Rebuilding trust is very difficult indeed. Infatuation or sexual feelings for others is common but doesn’t need to be acted upon. Most adults are attracted to other people from time to time but if this is happening too frequently, it might be that the relationship needs work.
6. In my experience as a couples therapist, work and hobbies that are prioritised over a relationship are frequently the cause of a relationship breakdown so it’s important to make time for just the two of you. Try and prioritise dedicated couple time, such as a date night once a month or spending a Sunday afternoon together.
7. Many people fall in love and then forget to negotiate very basic issues like whether they are going to have children, religion or their preferred geographical location. If you’re planning to take a relationship to the next level, while it isn't very romantic sharing major likes, dislikes, plans and beliefs, clear discussion about these important issues will pay dividends further along in the relationship. Don't 'fit in' with someone while you are infatuated: it may not be a decision you would make otherwise.
8. Nothing breaks down a good relationship like resentment. Resentments often occur because of things unsaid, a series of misunderstandings, and outside interference. These issues can easily be avoided by promoting honest, ongoing communication.
9. It would be great if we could all fall in love with the perfect person and live happily ever after. For some, this happens with minimum effort, but for others, hard work, patience and determination are required to build strong foundations.
10. Relatives and friends are often well-meaning, but sometimes interfering for their own purposes can really put pressure on a relationship. The truth is that while we often seek advice from people with whom we are close, they may have a conscious or unconscious agenda. We can’t holy rely on their advice and it would be beneficial to engage an impartial third party.
Another problem with advice is that it usually involves revealing personal information about your relationship. People can be judgmental, so while they might want to support you just because you are their relative or friend, they may disapprove, or not maintain confidentiality. Be mindful that their advice isn't always fair or appropriate.
Don't let other people get involved in your relationship, it seldom helps and in some cases can actually destroy relationships. You don't have to give out private information to anyone and you really do have the right to set boundaries against curious or manipulative people.