By: Dr. Elizabeth MacGregor
1. Making Time
Itís easy to get pulled in by the
daily distractions of life. Itís hard
enough to make time for ourselves, let alone our loved ones. Nurturing your
relationship takes effort to keep it from going stale. While working together
to cross chores off the to-do list brings a sense of partnership to the
relationship, it does not do much in keeping romance alive.
Itís important that each partner
make a conscious decision to spend enough time together doing activities that
are enjoyable. Making the commitment to keep your appointments with each other also
builds trust. Regularly neglecting your partner for interests or preoccupations
outside of the relationship is a sure-fire way to erode it.
But watch out for the time spent
together that gives the surface feeling of connecting without any actual
substance. Often couples spend poor quality time together that lacks real
intimacy. Habitually zoning out in front of the television or computer can be
just as absent as being physically gone. No real communication or reconnection
is happening. Staying aware of how much time you focus on each other is the
first key for each partner to feeling appreciated.
2. Lack of Communication
The road to less conflict in a
relationship is paved with effective communication. And it starts with
kindness, appreciation and attention. These traits are what create the fertile
ground for connecting with each other. A breakdown in communication usually
does not start with one person. Blaming your partner for not being open only makes
it a reality by putting them on the defensive. The erosion feeds on the
momentum of the destructive volley between the couple. And then no one is
hearing anything but anger; silent and seething or openly expressed.
But the chain can be broken by one
partner making the first move to end the cycle. Choosing to not throw the ball
back at your partner is one of the most difficult actions that a person can
take to open back up the line of communication. It takes practice. And lots of
it. Saying, "Iím sorryĒ or "Thank you for doing that for meĒ is making an
effort to try and understand your partnerís perspective, whether you agree with
it or not. Itís taking the first step toward your partner. And then most likely
you will see your partner taking their first step toward you.
Trust is the foundation of all
relationships. Most people bring trust issues that they have learned from past
relationships. Interactions with family, friends, co-workers and employers all
bring experiences that translate to how we trust. And like any relationship,
trust can be fragile in the beginning. In healthy relationships, couples take
the conscious risk of letting down their guard so they can make a genuine
connection with each other. Trust continues to be earned by building on the
groundwork that has been laid.
Trust is a fragile thing though,
and most couples build on or destroy that trust by their negative actions and inactions.
These tendencies can be repetitive patterns of detrimental behavior such as
habitual lying, breaking promises, accumulating massive debt, pornography
addiction or infidelity. Betrayal can shake the very core of the relationship
and is difficult to overcome. But it can be done.
Healing from betrayal starts with
the choice to forgive or leave the relationship. If you decide to work it out,
then working through the anger is critical. Counseling can help you work
through your feelings with your partner and begin the process of rebuilding
your trust by showing a change of the hurtful behavior. The way back to a
trusting relationship can be long and takes commitment from both partners.
Couples counseling can help get you there.
4. The Power Play
The struggle for power begins at the time of commitment
to the relationship. Being on our best behavior is not feeling as urgent and
those weekly football games or shopping excursions are not feeling quite as fun.
And what about those quirky habits? They may not be so cute anymore either. Problems
that were once brushed aside are becoming increasingly irritating. Thatís when
a different set of expectations shows up and the dance begins.
The relationship can become a battle ground for "turfĒ
with each side fully committed to "winning.Ē And the conflicts continue
spiraling the relationship down with its turbulence. Each sees their partner as
unreasonable and anger shows up either with aggressive yelling or physical abuse,
or more passive displays through sarcasm and thinly veiled insulting humor.
Couples counseling can help you learn to pick your
battles wisely and communicate more effectively with a more cooperative attitude.
Learning to negotiate through conflict can help empower you as an individual as
well as a couple.
5. Money Matters
How well a couple communicates with
each other about money is usually a reflection of their overall communication
skills. And money can trigger a whole host of emotional issues and complex
feelings that are ingrained from childhood. Lying about spending to avoid
arguments can lead to major trust issues in a relationship. The problems only worsen
with secret credit cards and bank accounts adding to the feelings of deception.
With couples, control and
independence are major reasons why money causes so many sparks to fly. Especially
as couples marry or move in together later in life and are more established
during their single years. Compromise can be more difficult. But no matter the
age or status of the couple, clear and open financial communication should
start when the decision is made to commit to a partnership.
Couples counseling can be a great
benefit in learning a healthier approach to relating to each other. An experienced
and objective third party, skilled in guiding couples through the feelings
around money, can help facilitate a solid plan that works for each individual
to overcome the relationship hazards that may be affecting your own happiness
About the Author...
Click here to contact or learn more about Dr. Elizabeth MacGregor
Last Update: 4/3/2012