I have worked with many couples over the years and this has afforded me unique knowledge into what it takes to maintain a successful, happy relationship. I am going to share these personal notes that I have made on what promotes a successful relationship.
1) Most important is good communication. I see many couples who have very different attitudes and values and when they try to communicate they just can’t seem to reach shared, mutual ground. Sometimes it can seem as if they share the same experiences but interpret them completely differently – effectively living parallel realities. This isn’t conducive to effective communication and counselling does help, an objective third person can often help those two realities merge to a larger degree.
It is important to communicate openly and honestly and to deal with any issues as and when they arise wherever possible. Allowing problems to fester is a surefire way to break down communication and causes further problems. Instead of making assumptions, be direct and ask what was meant by a comment or an action. It may just be that you have misinterpreted something. Ensure that communication is collaborative and solution focused. If it turns into a blaming match, take time out and revisit it when the emotions aren’t running so high. If you are angry or upset, it will be much harder to reach solutions and work together.
2) Gratitude – regularly remind yourself of all the good things your partner does for you. Remember that good times can be interrupted by bad times and that no one is perfect.
3) Acts of goodwill – be thoughtful and considerate. Everyone likes to feel valued, loved and appreciated. Kisses on texts, a cup of tea or coffee that is unexpected..anything that you do that you don’t have to do falls into this category. Compliments and appreciation go a long way to promoting longevity.
4) Physical intimacy – this bonds a couple and acts like glue. Make time for affection and being tactile.
5) Do fun things together – break out of the monotony of life and do something unusual. This cements your relationship by sharing experiences that are out of your comfort zone. Go on holiday, take flying lessons together…just do something different.
6) Work/life balance – try to maintain balance between your home life and your work life. Spending quality time together without distractions (such as children) is crucial for reconnecting.
Every relationship is unique and there isn’t a one size fits all theory that applies to everyone. There are common sense approaches though that help couple stay together and relate to each other. Every relationship takes work though, without exception.