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.
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.
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.
If you have used violence or hurtful behaviour, it is important that you seek professional help.
Marcus Andrews is the founder and director of Life Supports, which was established in 2002. He has extensive professional experience working as a counsellor and family therapist across a broad range of issues. The core component of his role at Life Supports involves the supervision of other counsellors, including secondary consultations. Marcus has worked in many sectors, including private, government, non-profit, health, forensic and community practice.