How to create a healthy loving relationship
The emotional quality of our Personal relationships is where deep fulfilment and happiness lies. It does not matter how much success you achieve in other areas of your life, if your romantic relationship is distressed it will cast a very long shadow.
Three words sum up a healthy loving relationship, LOVE, TRUST and RESPECT. If any one of these are missing from your relationship the chances are it will be in distress.
Love - is the ultimate foundation without which a romantic relationship cannot develop. Love is one of the most intense emotions humans experience. It is a deep mutual expression of respect, honesty, kindness, intimacy, chemistry and partnership.
Trust - Trust is build in small moments. Trust is built with integrity, respect, regular attention, care, 'having each other's back', and knowing that secrets and truths are safe in each other's hands. Trust grows when mistakes are owned, and amends are made. Trust is built from reliability, following through, and being consistent. Maintaining your values regardless of the company that you are in builds trust . A lack of basic trust of one another on a day to day basis creates hurt and breeds defensiveness, defensiveness leads to hostility, and so the negative spiral begins.
Respect -The oxford English Dictionary defines the word respect as 'a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements', it is of upmost importance to the health of a relationship that you hold a warm respect for one another. Respect is shown in a relationship by encouraging each other to live authentically, respect acknowledges that we are all different and rejoices in those differences. Respect is shown by taking the time to listen and understand each other's points of view. Respect allows for differences of perspectives, and empathises with each other's struggles.
One of the questions I ask in my Relationship Questionnaire is for you to look at your values.
So what exactly are values? Your values are your judgements of what is important in life. They are totally individual to you, but for a relationship to work they need to be in tune with the values of your partner. Of the couples in distress that I see ALL will have a significant clash of values. It is very important for your moral values to be as similar as possible to those of your partner. Values are not set in stone, they can and should be taken out and looked at to see if they still serve your life well. Take a look at you and your partners values, and any clash found will show you the root cause of your problems.
What can you do immediately to help a relationship in crisis? Focus on kindness. Kindness is the quality of being thoughtful, caring and considerate. Think about what small acts of kindness you can do every day. Make your partner a cup of tea in the morning, run a bath with candles, a foot massage, or something as simple as a genuine compliment, an unrequested offer of help, or an encouraging smile. In life what we focus on is what develops and grows - focus on kindness and your connection will immediately improve.
Prioritise your relationship!!! This can not be stressed enough, so many of the couples that I see have made other aspects of their lives more important than their relationship. Work and Career, children, their hobbies and socialising, often take priority with the result that the relationship becomes neglected, strained, and begins to break down. Think about the successes you have had in your life, and why you have achieved this success. It will be because you focused and took positive and consistant action. When a relationship is new and fresh both partners prioritise the relationship and put a lot of positive energy and effort into their time together. Modern life stresses demand a lot of our time, but failing to make space for our partners, and failing to spend fun, quality time together often leads to many couples leading more and more distant lives, resulting in a loss of emotional intimacy and connection.
Effort Love and romance takes consistent daily effort. Love is like a plant, it cannot just be left on a shelf unattended, it needs to be nurtured. So many couples put no effort at all into their relationships and wonder why they fall apart. Love is a verb, and is shown in our daily actions towards each other. It has been shown by long term research in America that couples that remain happy in the long term are the ones that repeated turn towards one another rather than away. They answer and listen when spoken to, they remain interested in their partner, they keep fun and adventure alive, they make time for one another, they create plans together, they share their hopes, dreams and thoughts together. Turning away creates disconnection and loneliness. It can be seen in couples that have stopped listening or responding when their partner speaks, they have stopped taking an interest, they have stopped having fun, taking time, laughing. Effort is the birthplace of success in any endeavour.
Date Nights Make time for your relationship, spend quality time away from your work and children, this can be as simple as going for a walk, playing a sport together, going to watch a film or for a meal. Quality alone time is crucial to stay in tune with one another. Take it in turns to decide what you do and where you go, surprise each other and most importantly, make it fun.
Kindness Kindness is such an underrated quality with so many people these days looking for happiness in the pursuit of success, money and recognition. When couples become stuck in acrimony, kindness is one of the first things to be lost. Kindness has the great ability to restructure and soften an entrenched situation. Kindness does not need to come with grand gestures but can be shown in small ways - a cup of tea in the morning, a genuine compliment, a warm smile, a favourite chocolate bar, a loving text, a note left on a pillow. Each taking no more than a few seconds but with such restorative powers. Kindness sends the message that you care about your partner, that they are in your thoughts and and that their happiness matters to you.
Help following infidelity Discovering infidelity /an affair is one of the most traumatic and stressful events a person can go through. In an instance the world stops turning, everything is upturned and the past and future is thrown into complete uncertainty. Hundreds of questions arise such as, should I stay or should I go? Will I ever trust again? Why didn't I recognise the signs sooner? I would never have believed that this could happen to us? He/she was the last person I would expect to have an affair!! Overcoming an affair poses the greatest challenge of all relationship problems, but if love remains between the couple and they are both committed to the work required, then many couples end up with a stronger and more honest relationship as a result. An affair does not need to signal the end of your relationship but can be the start of a relationship that is far more rewarding. Affairs signal something is wrong within the relationship, affairs rarely happen in happy, connected relationships. Together we look to find the source of the problem, to fully understand why this has happened. Then we work together to solve the problems and rebuild trust and respect.
I have had the privilege of seeing inside the relationships of hundreds of couples, so fully understand that ALL relationships go through difficult times. Relationships need to be nurtured and cared for, and often in long term relationships complacency sets in. All too often work, children and other activities get in the way of spending time together. The work done in counselling following an affair enables you both to re-prioritise, and place the relationship at the very centre of your lives. Your time in counselling enables you both to pull together as a team and will help to re-establish your commitment to one another.
All too often couples fail to properly address the problems that have led to an affair, choosing to push it under the carpet, too fearful to look, afraid of what they might find. However, not properly addressing the problems that led to the affair, means the chances of a further affair happening in the future is very high. Unfortunately, I see many couples who did not address their problems properly after a first affair, and are then faced with the added difficulties of having to overcome further distress when it happens again. Don't allow this to happen to your relationship. If an affair has taken place, address the problems head on, do not look the other way in the hope they will disappear.
Relationship counselling is very successful at helping couples get to the root of their problems quickly and effectively and to re-establish the bonds of trust following an affair. I am happy to say that the majority of couples I see that have been rocked by an affair, end up staying together happier and stronger than they were before. An affair does not have to mean the end of a relationship, but can be the beginning of a stronger and more connected future.
All couples have problems, it's how you choose to deal with them that will define the future happiness of your relationship.