How to improve your relationships Think of the acronym: GIVE to help you to…
What happy couples don’t do…
Some couples seem sickeningly happy. Holding hands and gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes. So what have they got that we don’t? Why do they seem to fit so well together? Is it because they are ‘soul mates’, if such a thing exists, or is it their attitudes that make the difference? The truth is – it’s a bit of both. The “soul mate” bit is harder to control but the attitude part is something we can all influence. Here are common behaviours that happy couples don’t engage in that make their relationships better…
1) Happy couples aren’t jealous or possessive of each other
A little bit of jealousy can be a good thing. It’s nice to know that your partner loves you and wouldn’t necessarily want to share you. When this healthy jealousy crosses the line, one partner starts checking up on the other. Checking mobile phones, Facebook or emails is not the way to go if you want a happy relationship. Suspicion breeds mistrust and the cycle worsens. If one person in the relationship wishes to cheat, they will find a way to do it no matter how much you check-up on them. Relax and trust that your partner loves you. Innocent until proven guilty is the right approach.
2) Happy couples don’t regularly criticise, undermine or insult each other (not even subtly)
Verbal abuse is something that I come across often in my job as a counsellor. Once a couple becomes more relaxed with each other, a nasty toxic side emerges sometimes. Comments such as “can’t you do anything right” or “how many times do I have to tell you?”. These comments wear a person down and erode the love. Whilst it’s okay (and even normal) to get angry and frustrated in a relationship, there are healthy ways to express this. Insults and criticism break a relationship down. A strong character will eventually leave a relationship where subtle put-downs are rife. Someone with less inner strength and confidence may stay but will end up a ‘shell’ of their former self. Emotional and verbal abuse is insidious and is also, very common.
3) Happy couples don’t ignore the relationship
It’s easy to put a relationship behind work and other commitments but it won’t promote a happy, strong relationship. Spending too much time apart or regularly putting the relationship on the back burner to pursue work goals or other interests will eventually affect the relationship negatively. Happy couples know where they need to put the effort in and they rarely allow their other half to feel second best and ignored. Of course, life has its ups and downs and at times, other areas of life need extra attention but happy couples know where their true happiness lies, and they always make time for their relationships. Prioritizing your relationship is key if you want it to last.
4) Happy couples don’t compare themselves to others
Happy couples are quite content with where they are in life. They don’t worry about who is buying a home, getting married or having babies amongst their friends. They understand that each couple is unique and has its own time span for life events. As long as they are both happy with their progress within the relationship, that is all that matters.
5) Happy couples don’t avoid conversation
If there’s something on their minds, it gets spoken about. Communication is absolutely vital in a happy relationship and close couples spend a lot of time chatting about their dreams and goals. They readily talk about the state of their relationships and speak about their needs. They don’t make assumptions, instead, they ask their partner if they feel they may have misunderstood. Assumptions can lead to misinterpretations which can lead to resentment, a decline in communication, and the eradication of intimacy and closeness. Any issues are ‘nipped in the bud’ before they grow out of hand.
6) Happy couples don’t avoid physical intimacy
Part of feeling close and connected is physical intimacy. There is an exception to this rule, however. There are some couples (in the minority) who really don’t want sex or miss it. When BOTH people are happy with the situation, happiness can thrive. I am mainly referring to couples where one person wants sex and the other doesn’t or where the frequency isn’t sufficient for one person in the relationship. The person who wants physical intimacy will have to suppress some of their needs in order to function well in the relationship. Long term this can lead to problems.
7) Happy couples don’t pick their partners for the wrong reasons
I see it all the time. Clients tell me that they married their partner because they were getting older and felt it was the right thing to do at the time. Some have chosen their partners to gain recognition, status, or wealth. Inevitably, these relationships are never as happy as those where two people are alike and really enjoy each other and share similar values. When choosing the right partner, ask yourself whether you miss that person when you aren’t with them. Whether life would be empty without them to share it with. Can you just ‘be’ in each other’s company and be happy and content? Friendship and emotional, intellectual, and physical connections are the keys to long-lasting happy relationships.
8) Happy couples don’t play emotional games
Happy couples aren’t perfect and there may be some game playing going on but as a rule, both parties try to keep the relationship open and honest. When one person feels hurt, instead of thinking “well, I am not going to phone him/her today just to teach them a lesson”, they put the incident aside until it can be talked about later. They express how it made them feel and deal with the issue head-on. A healthy and mature way to handle a successful relationship.
9) Happy couples don’t betray trust
Unless you’re into polyamory, having affairs is a no-no for most happy couples. If one person is having a secret affair, it begs the question – is there something lacking in the primary relationship? Boredom, lack of sex, and monotony can lead to sex outside of the relationship. Happy couples find ways to keep their sex life fun and interesting and try to make the effort to keep the physical aspect of their relationship alive. They don’t have secrets when it comes to sex with others and wouldn’t consider this if they are happy in their current relationship.
10) Happy couples don’t allow boredom to permeate
Boredom is the enemy of all good relationships. It, therefore, pays to keep things interesting. Try new things together..go ice skating, bowling, bungee jumping…whatever takes your fancy but be bold and keep novelty in the relationship. Boredom can breed restlessness. Research suggests that doing something new together can help with intimacy…perhaps now is the time to go on that rollercoaster together or try an exhilarating sport where you are both out of your comfort zone.
Relationships can be wonderful and a good relationship can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. Relationships do take effort though and can’t chug along endlessly without some tweaking along the way. Keep the above tips in mind and you’ll already be on the right path to a more fulfilling and rewarding partnership.