Strengthen your relationship

8 April 2016

Sometimes when your relationship starts to go off the boil it’s worth checking out our relationship checklist and focusing on what’s missing.

It lists five aspects of a relationship:

  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Conflict
  • Commitment
  • Love

There are probably more you could suggest… but perhaps these are the fundamentals to at least start the process of strengthening your relationship.

Empathy

Sometimes, arguments reach a stalemate because neither partner is willing to listen to what the other is saying. Listening to one another, and trying to understand how each other is feeling, doesn’t mean changing your own ideas or even necessarily admitting you’re wrong. It just means showing your partner you care about how they’re feeling and that you’re willing to make the effort to meet in the middle if necessary.

Even if you’ve known your partner a long time, try to step into their shoes and recognise that they may see some things differently to you.

Communication

Communication is one of the most important skills in any relationship. Being able to clearly and consistently state how you’re feeling will mean that those little niggles that might otherwise develop into something worse can be resolved early on.

It also worth remembering that communicating doesn’t just mean being able to make your own point well, but learning to listen to what your partner is saying as well. Try to employ ‘active listening’ when you’re talking together. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak, but really listen to what they’re saying. Repeat what they’re saying back to them. And ask them to clarify things – don’t always assume you know what they mean immediately.

Conflict

People often think of arguing as inherently bad, but if there’s no conflict whatsoever in your relationship, there’s a good chance someone’s holding something back.

Differences between you and your partner are pretty much inevitable – it’s how you deal with those differences that counts. Sometimes, it’s a case of trying to argue better. Try to use a ‘soft’ start that focuses on your feelings instead of attacking your partner.

Try to avoid letting things spin out of control: don’t say things you’ll regret later or just trade insults. And be prepared to be forgiving: it’s only when both partners are willing to let go of their desire to ‘win’ the argument that it can actually end.

Commitment

In a long term relationship, commitment means being willing to work on difficulties together, planning for the future together and clarifying and protecting the boundaries you’ve agreed on. This takes persistence and hard work – but the rewards are more than worth it.

And in the short term it can also mean committing from moment to moment. Even if you’re on a first date with someone, it’s important you’re able to give things your full attention and show interest instead of wondering what else you could be doing or letting your mind get clouded over with doubts.

Love

The Ancient Greeks had three words for love:

  • Eros – erotic love. It means being attracted to each other. It’s the spark that makes your relationship feel exciting and special.
  • Philios – means friendship. It’s the feeling of understanding one another, enjoying each other’s company and having shared interests.
  • Agape – means being prepared to go out of your way for the other person or put them first.

If you’d like to talk with one of our counsellors about what’s missing in your relationship give our friendly appointments team a call on 01234 356350.

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