7 habits of satisfied couples
Many of us will admit that our romantic relationships leave room for improvement – but where to begin? Juliet Grayson, a sex and relationship expert and author of Landscapes Of The Heart: The Working World Of A Sex And Relationship Therapist (Sleeping Mountain, £12.99), works with couples to improve their interactions. Here are her top seven tips for a satisfying relationship:
1 Be willing to do your personal work and heal your history
Many people are longing to get their childhood needs met by their partner. Others are negatively affected by experiences in their history, which get in the way of their current relationship. If you recognise that you put an extra burden on your relationship because of some lack or trauma in your childhood, then do some personal development or get therapy for that.
2 Know what you do that makes your partner feel loved – and do it
Recognise exactly what you do that makes your partner feel loved. It might be bringing him or her some flowers, leaving a note for them to find during the day, speaking loving words, or the hug that you give them when they get home from work. Be aware that most of us give our partner the very thing we wish they would give to us. Try asking your partner, ‘What do you like me to do, or wish that I would do, that makes you feel loved?’ Then remember to do that, frequently, so they know they are loved.
3 Recognise that not every problem is fixable
One of the things that successful couples realise is that not every problem is fixable! For these perpetual problems, you need to be open, and willing to talk them through again and again with humour, tolerance and affection, recognising you have to live with it, and may never find a solution.
4 Under-promise and over-deliver
Be realistic about what you can offer, and stick to that. If you promise to be home from work by 6.30pm – then walk through the door at 6.15.
5 Be open to influence and repair attempts from the other
We all get irritated by the stupid small stuff. The art is for one person to break the argument, and for the other to be open to that olive branch. Successful couples are receptive to any communication, or action, that prevents negativity from escalating out of control. It can be something silly – I often teach couples I work with to use a ‘magic’ word such as ‘sausages’ which means, ‘Let’s not do this, we are about to have a row, and I don’t want to.’
6 Look after yourself versus looking after your partner
This one depends which end of a particular continuum you live at. Some of us spend more time pleasing ourselves. In that case it is important to sometimes put your partner first, and to be open to their ideas and suggestions. If, on the other hand, you tend to prioritise your partner’s needs over your own, that is likely to make you resentful, which is not good for relationships. In this case you will be serving the relationship by prioritising your own needs, from time to time.
7 Deliberately nourish your relationship
Think of your relationship as a third person, that needs nurture and nourishment. If you take it for granted, or ignore it, it may wither and die. Prioritise putting time aside for the relationship in order to keep it in tiptop condition.
Juliet Grayson’s book Landscapes of the Heart: The Working World Of A Sex And Relationship Therapist (Sleeping Mountain, £12.99) is out now.