Maintaining healthy relationships

Relationships have the potential to create happiness for two people beyond that which they may ever experience alone, but also the potential – when things go wrong – to bring sadness and anger. Relationships can be experienced along the complete emotional spectrum between these two extremes: as each of us is unique, so are our relationships. While everyone starts a relationship with high hopes, many people find their relationships follow a disappointing pattern. For some people relationships just seem to work, and for others they may seem doomed to fail. There are many factors that impact how people experience relationships, and many positive things you can do to improve your own relationship.

Consider the following healthy relationship practices:

Discover all the ways that your partner is different from you. Find out about their childhood, previous relationships, life experiences and passions. Learn about what makes them feel good, what upsets them, how they show affection and what makes them feel good about your relationship (it may be very different from what makes you feel good about it). How you experience the world may be quite different from your partner’s experience, and learning to recognise, accept and celebrate those differences is one of the hallmarks of a healthy relationship.

Learn how to agree to disagree without doing damage to your relationship. It is important that if you disagree you are able to express your thoughts and feelings in a way that does not leave your partner feeling put down or intimidated, yet also leaves you feeling you were able to express yourself, and have your opinion respected. All couples fight, however some couples damage their relationships when they fight. When you fight, listen carefully and try to understand how your partner might be experiencing things differently from you.  Talk about how you feel rather than disparaging your partner or their behaviour.It’s also important to take time out if it seems you are fighting unproductively. Apologise when you are in the wrong, and take the necessary steps you need to prevent the situation from happening again.

No matter how frustrated or hurt you might feel, it is important to avoid violence or hurtful behaviour. If you have used violence or hurtful behaviour, it is important that you seek professional help.

Time together, time apart

The following relationship habits are also crucial to maintaining a loving, fulfilling and respectful bond with your partner:

  • Make the time to talk to each other about what is happening in your lives; your hopes, fears and frustrations, the good and bad about your relationship. Most importantly – always, always remember to laugh together!
  • Spend time doing interesting things with your partner. Sharing significant life experiences together will strengthen the bond between you. Experiences could include taking a holiday together, sharing your hobbies, leisure activities or a sport. Sharing philosophical, religious or spiritual beliefs and practices may also bring you closer together. Having enjoyable time with your partner is an essential ingredient for a healthy relationship.
  • It is also important to have some time apart from each other to pursue your own interests. This is equally as important as sharing time together ,as it is your own activities and interests that reinforce your sense of self as a unique individual. With a clear sense of self, you are more likely to be feel content within the context of your relationship.

Have concerns about the health of your relationship? Please contact Life Supports on 1300 735 030 if you would like to discuss your situation and counselling options with us.

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