1) Shared values and Wants
When starting a relationship, do you find out what the other wants in a relationship and what their values are? Different views on whether or not to get married, have and how to raise children, roles and responsibilities within the relationship, lifestyle, can be a sticking point later on down the line.
We don’t have to agree on everything, but shared wants and similar values are a must for a relationship to survive and thrive.
2) Communication: Moving From Games to Intimacy
Do you find you and your loved one repeating the same patterns and having the same arguments? Sometimes we feel unable to express ourselves authentically because of learned attitudes and fears from childhood that are outside of our awareness.
Communicating how we feel, or checking things out with the other, from a non-judgemental place can help us to move out of painful patterns (or games) and into intimacy.
3) Manage Conflict Well
What’s your conflict pattern as a couple? What are your conflict patterns individually within the relationship? Taking offence at everything, bickering, ignoring, criticising, contempt, are some examples of conflict styles we adopt that prevent us from resolving the issue.
Identifying our conflict styles and how they keep us locked in battle allows us to make better choices, such as taking time out to cool off, or using “I” statements: “I feel…. when…”
4) Expressing and Receiving Love
Do you ever feel that your loved one doesn’t show you that they love you? Are you accused of not expressing your love to them? According to writer Gary Chapman, we have different preferences which it comes to expressing and receiving love, including: telling, doing things for the other, giving gifts, spending quality time together, and physical touch.
Learning each of your ‘love languages’ and expressing in these ways will help you each to feel loved and appreciated, and keep the relationship going strong.
5) Make Time for Fun Together
Has your coupledom fallen into a dull routine? Is time together spent flaked out at the end of a busy day, with your heads in your phones and the television droning away in the background? After the honeymoon period is when our relationship truly begins. From here on in it’s warts and all and we no longer have the excitement of newness to keep the relationship interesting.
Make time to have fun together. Try new things. Do activities that make you both belly laugh! Having fun together builds a strong bond and injects excitement into the relationship.
Did you know that in America, many couples embark on counselling prior to deciding whether or not to tie the knot? This helps them to check that their values and hopes for the future are aligned, to work through issues, and improve communication and conflict management BEFORE deciding on making such a big commitment.
Often times, couples will tell me that counselling is their last hope. Some see attending couples counselling as a sign that their relationship is in deep trouble. It doesn’t have to be this way! Wouldn’t it be great if we British took a similar view to therapy as our American counterparts.
So, if you think that you could do with a space in which to explore your relationship and look at ways in which to move forward and feel closer, why not give couples therapy a try?