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Relationships: Understanding & Making Them Better
I love talking about relationships and improving relationships because it is one of the areas that I love working with clients on.
Valentine’s Day is commercial and all that, but it’s also true that it can be tough for many people because it is a specific day when many of us are thinking about relationships, it can be a challenging time for some people.
And it can be challenging for folks in different phases of relationship, as well those who are single.
Examples of some struggles may be:
• Pressures of expectations in their relationship
• Accessing how the relationship has been feeling. Perhaps there’s been increasing conflict
• Loneliness. Folks can feel lonely, even in relationship.
Often, as human beings, we like to generalize and simplify things and if we’re not conscious of it, we can find ourselves predominantly thinking in either or’s or in black and whites.
So when we think of relationships, we might think of either being in one or not being in one. Or whether it’s simply good or simply bad.
But there are different relationship phases and our experiences of the same relationship changes over time and understanding that there are different relationship phases can be helpful.
For the sake of this post, I’m going to over simplify it, but let’s break it down to these three phases:
• Being single
• Folks in new or newer relationships
• Those in more established relationships (7 years+)
I believe it’s important to talk about relationships because healthy and connected relationships are what I consider to be one of the pillars for overall mental and emotional health.
You will often hear me refer to the importance of relationships and community because it not only keeps us in check through feedback, it can be helpful to better manage stress and get support
Relationship Tips for Singles, New(er) Relationships & Established Relationships
Singles – Have a very clear sense of your own deeper values.
By deeper values, I mean things like:
How do you resolve conflict?
How do you like to spend quality time?
Introvert or extrovert?
Shy or outgoing?
How do you like to decompress?
It’s easy to get caught up on what’s on paper or the wish list.
But it can be crucial to be clear on these values so that there’s a foundation in place for a future, more solid relationship.
New and Newer Relationships – The deeper values audit is a good thing to do for everyone. It’s especially important because in newer relationships, it can be easier to get swept up in the emotions.
But if there are any red flags, rather than to disregard them or rationalize them, this is a good time to make sure to slow down and consider their larger future impact.
While attraction and strong connection can feel really great, it unfortunately doesn’t necessarily guarantee that these qualities alone will make for a good relationship.
Established Relationships – What to expect further into relationships are not often discussed because, I imagine, it’s not as exciting as the honeymoon phase.
But it doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to keep things interesting and new in your relationship. And it can be even more meaningful because there’s more history, foundation and experiences together to draw from
Regularly schedule together time just the two of you, whether it’s date night or regular times away together. Whether it’s a trip or a night out doing something together that’s new (trampolining anyone?) will provide opportunities to reconnect or deepen connection.
Also, be open and communicative about differences, what’s working, what’s ahead and what can be improved.
It can be valuable to set up regular times to check in about what’s going on in life and within the relationship.
Overall Tips for Understanding Relationships Better
Be Authentically Loving: When is the last time you stopped and genuinely and truly expressed love for your loved one?
Life can be overwhelming and it’s easy to find ourselves in autopilot saying “love you” as though it’s a throw-away thing to say.
If it’s possible to slow things down once a day, and let our loved ones know that we care about them in a meaningful way, it can go a long way.
BONUS POINTS for taking a moment once a day to express loving kindness to yourself! For instance: “I am kind, patient and understanding.”
Understand Your Beliefs Around Love & Relationships: I am very fortunate to work with many people, many of them men, who are invested in better understanding and improving their relationships.
Working with a therapist, counsellor or coach can help you understand how you think about love and family can really help to improve relationships.
My genuine wish for you, today and always, is love and kindness. ?