Tips on Healthy Relationships:
Lets face it that relationships are hard work and require a recommitment each day to decide to be loving and generous with our energy. This does not mean we perfectly meet the needs of our partners each day. This means that we can face the truth when we fall short and place our efforts in mending the rifts versus defending our stance.
I felt compelled to share some tips I have learned over the years as I work with many diverse couples, as well as having participated in my own couples therapy on the client side of things.
Stop defending yourself! –
A defensive stance requires all our energy go into protecting the ego versus creating a space to listen, understand, and begin to pay attention to our loved one. Paying attention is the greatest form of generosity and I am amazed at how such a simple gesture can be so hard to come by with most couples. When one of us is on the defensive it is almost impossible to pay attention to what the other is trying to convey.
Express honestly and directly what you need. –
Learn to say what you want and recognize that it is not the job of your partner or spouse to read your mind. So often couples get into trouble when an internal message becomes “he should know this about me already,” or “why should I have to keep explaining what I need?” The truth is that you are responsible for your needs and how you express them will make all the difference.
Arguments and conflict are healthy!
Conflict can be a doorway into deeper connection if it is handled with healthy communication. Conflict and arguing are healthy and show that you are invested in a relationship. Learning to express feelings especially when having been hurt is an act of love that shows you care for your partner to assist in the healing process and that you are invested in allowing them to know you more deeply.
Be yourself! Let down the mask.
Many times people play roles or wear masks that can feel safe or comfortable however can end up blocking true intimacy. Fear of rejection or past wounds can affect the ways we show up for our partners. There are a myriad of ways that roles and masks negatively affect a couples ability to have healthy intimacy. You may also want to reflect on how your parents modeled intimacy in your home growing up. I guarantee you that this plays a role in your own adult relationships. You may find that a partner’s anxiety or depression feels familiar, or that your own standards and expectations match that of a mother or father.
And finally without trust and healthy communication a relationship will fail. I deem these as the two pillars that hold a sturdy foundation for every relationship.
So if you are newly in a relationship or have been for years I recommend couples therapy as a way to improve trust and communication in your relationship as well as prevent possible future issues from arising. When you have established both trust and healthy communication then your relationship can truly flourish.