A strong and loving relationship is something to be valued forever. No matter if you’re in a new relationship or have been with this person for years, the opportunity to connect with someone on a deep and meaningful level is something very special. While these types of relationships are highly sought after, they also take a lot of work, patience, and understanding.
Every couple is made up of two unique individuals, each presenting with different upbringings, values, and experiences. Learning how to navigate these differences in your partner while also respecting their needs and boundaries is integral to a stable relationship. All too often we see couples lose their love and trust for one another due to growing resentment over the years.
Fortunately, there is a way to heighten the love and enjoyment you share with your partner. Let’s take a closer look at the key factors that make for a strong and loving relationship.
An initial step to the beginning of every relationship is to learn more about your partner. While there’s plenty to talk about in the early stages of dating as you're familiarizing with this person, you may begin to notice a shift in conversation down the road. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of repeating the same phrases day in and day out.
Putting a little extra thought into your questions can help you to learn so much more about your partner. Rather than simply asking them how their day was, ask them about specific things they may have dealt with that day. Maybe they’ve been stressed about a presentation at work or have expressed interest in a new hobby, whatever it may be, it gives you the perfect opportunity to learn a little bit more about your partner.
Self-disclosure helps to create closeness between two people through an emotional connection. It offers a safe space to talk about anything and allows both people to feel heard and understood. Dig a little deeper below the surface every day - you may be surprised what you learn. Remember to approach your partner with no judgment and a sense of curiosity.
Communication has long been viewed as an essential component of any healthy relationship. The better two people can openly and honestly communicate with one another, the better off they will be in a relationship with one another. The question is, how do two people establish or improve their communication over time?
Some of the ways you can improve your skills to express yourself better with your partner are by:
Needs and wants are two very different things. On one hand, needs are the non-negotiables in a relationship. For example, most people need affection, to be made a priority, and a sense of understanding from their partner. Whatever falls under the category of ‘needs’ is crucial to achieving long-term happiness in a relationship.
On the other hand, wants are the more flexible areas of the relationship. These areas are open to compromise. Wants are those things that are nice to have but not necessarily mandatory to create a great partnership. When communicating with your partner about meaningful topics, it’s important to recognize what you need from them versus what you are willing to be flexible on.
A part of communication that many people struggle with is listening. In order to be heard when you speak, it is essential to listen to your partner when they speak. Improving your listening skills takes practice, but everyone has the means to do better. When your partner is talking to you, help them to open up by remaining curious, non-judgmental, and refraining from jumping in to voice your opinion. Listen to understand, not to answer.
Communicating through verbal methods, such as speaking, texting, emailing, and so on is only a small piece of the pie. A large part of communication we use is through non-verbal cues. When your partner tells you they’re doing fine, instead of hearing what they say and taking it for face value, notice their nonverbal cues. You can get a lot of information out of someone’s facial expressions, eye contact, posture, gestures, and tone of voice.
Recurring arguments can be dissolved quickly and even avoided altogether when you address what you need from your partner. Rather than beating around the bush, waiting for hours, or suppressing your emotions entirely, be direct with your partner. These conversations are more productive when they come from a place of respect rather than aggression. Keep in mind that how a conversation starts is often predictive of how it ends. Try to use a gentle- startup when letting your partner know how you feel and what you need.
A great method to improve communication in a relationship is by setting up a time to talk. This is especially important if you’re arguing over text on the phone and can’t seem to collect your thoughts in a way that can lead to resolution. Instead, set up a time to chat in the afternoon, evening, or weekend to create more space for understanding. This also helps you to avoid speaking irrationally or out of emotion as it gives you time to consider both sides of the argument.
You can’t grow a relationship if neither person is willing to put in equal effort. Compromise shows your partner that you’re willing to consider their side just as important as your own. Rather than looking at it like winning or losing, compromise gives you both the chance to have your needs met. To truly compromise is to feel valued, heard, and understood.
Take some time to consider what your core needs are. What are you not willing to compromise on? What is most important to you? For example, for some individuals getting married or having children is non-negotiable. This goes back to what you need versus what you want out of a relationship.
Premarital counselling can be advantageous for any couple who are considering making a lifetime commitment. It’s used to help couples dig deeper into their relationship and discuss important issues before officially tying the knot. From discussing marriage expectations to planning how to resolve future conflict, premarital counselling can help couples prepare for a long and healthy marriage.
If this is something you may be interested in, book a consultation with us today.
Every person brings their own unique traits, values, and experiences into a relationship. For this reason, no two couples are ever the same. While there are many differences involved, the foundations of a strong and loving relationship follow the same path.
Adding more value to a relationship can allow two people to grow even closer to one another. By continuously learning about one another, engaging in better communication, compromising often, and considering premarital counseling, you’ll be more prepared to take the next step in spending a future together.
Written by Tori Mudie, BA, MA, RP, CCC
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