How many of us have learned how to build loving relationships? Here are 5 tips for building a loving relationship, especially handy when the love bubble bursts after the first 12 months or so.
1. Create a safe environment where you can trust and share openly without being afraid.
Don’t interrupt, even if you need to put your hand over your mouth to stop yourself. Learn to fight fairly. No name calling. Don’t make threats. Apologize when you know you should. If you’re too angry to really listen, stop! Go into another room, take space for yourself, breathe and “calm down.”
Remember: your partner is not the enemy.
2. Separate the facts from the feelings.
What beliefs and feelings get triggered in you during conflicts? Ask yourself: Is there something from my past that is influencing how I’m seeing the situation now? The critical question you want to ask: Is this about him or her, or is it really about me? What’s the real truth? Once you’re able to differentiate facts from feelings, you’ll see your partner more clearly and be able to resolve conflicts from clarity.
3. Ask questions when you’re unsure or are making assumptions.
All too often, we make up our own stories or interpretations about what our partners’ behavior means. For example: “He doesn’t want to cuddle; he must not really love me anymore.” We can never err on the side of asking too many questions, and then listen to the answers from your whole self — heart, gut, mind and body. Equally important is to hear what’s not being said — the facts and feeling that you sense might be unspoken.
4. Make time for your relationship.
No matter who you are or what your work is, you need to nurture your relationship. Make sure you schedule time for the well-being of your relationship. That includes making “playdates” and also taking downtime together. Frequently create a sacred space together by shutting off all things technological and digital. Like a garden, the more you tend to your relationship, the more it will grow.
5. Say the “hard things” from love.
Become aware of the hard things that you’re not talking about. Do you need to discuss your sex life? Have a jar that you put in important things to be discussed. How does that feel? No matter what you’re feeling in a situation, channel the energy of your emotions so that you say what you need to say in a constructive manner.
Try one of these every day and before you know it you will develop the skills of building a loving relationship.
Gerry North is a couples and general counsellor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org