Top Tips for a Better Relationship With Your Partner
Who doesn’t like a good love story? We watch romantic comedies where boy meets girl, boy woo’s girl, and they live happily ever after. This mentality of ‘Hollywood Romance’ can make us question if our relationships are strong. We can second guess ourselves and our partners, and this can create a sense of unease. However, relationships don’t have to be complicated, and they are certainly not ever at Hollywood level romance all the time. Every relationship is unique, and people come together for many different reasons. Falling in love is the easy part; staying in love takes work and a lot of commitment. But finding your ‘partner in crime’ is well worth it if you’re open to working at it.
There are lots of little things that can keep your relationship with your partner healthy and happy. We asked John Flanagan and Trish Purnell-Webb some of their best tips for building a better relationship. Both John and Trish are Master Trainers and Consultants for the Gottman Institute in Australia, so they have first-hand experience on what works to keep your relationship healthy.
Top 10 things to make your relationship sing:
– Get to know your partner. Spend time each day checking in with them. How are they feeling, what happened in their day, what are they working on now? Asking lots of questions helps you stay in contact. If you lose track of the way your partner is feeling, you can feel alone and unknown.
– Spend time face to face and have fun together. Try and set aside time each day to check in with each other. Uninterrupted from phones, kids, and any other distractions.
– Build a culture of appreciation for each other. Notice the good things about your partner and TELL THEM. Say, don’t just think, “oh, I like it when you do that”. Try to stop catching your partner out, and alternatively, see the good things. When you praise your partner publicly, it builds closeness and connection.
– When someone makes a bid for connection, turn towards them. In other words, if someone is seeking your attention, give it to them. If someone tries to share a moment with you, and you show them attention, they know you are there for them at that moment. It could be as simple as pausing what you’re watching on TV and acknowledging what they had commented on while reading the paper. This action communicates that you are there for your partner, and you ‘see’ them at that moment. As John says, “we are, as human beings, attachment seeking devices. We want to know that our partner is there for us, so we throw out these little moments of, hey are you there?”.
– Build into your relationship rituals of connections. Rituals create certainty and comfort, which both kids and adults love. Creating traditions around birthdays, anniversaries, how you greet each other at the end of the day create moments in time that are predictable and stable. It makes relationships safe and secure.
– Honour your partner’s dreams. When we have our own dream of achieving or experiencing something, and your partner supports you, it shows you are interested in them. E.g., perhaps your partner is a mad cyclist and gets enjoyment from riding each day, so you try to book holidays that are near great bike tracks. You may not be interested in biking, but you are interested in your partner.
– Another key aspect to a successful relationship is to have lots of conversations about the meaning of your relationship. What is the legacy you want to leave behind? How do you want to live your life together? How do you want to be seen or remembered?
– The really big one – TOUCH. Touch builds safety in the relationship and is a very simple way of communicating “we’re ok”. Simply walking past your partner while they are cooking, and touching their back, lets them know you are there for them.
– When a partner expresses a negative emotion – don’t take it as your fault. Try and be still and hear your partner say something. Stay in listener mode. 69% of conflict in a relationship isn’t solvable. Research shows that what you fight about at the beginning of your relationship will be the same throughout your relationship.
– Lastly; listen, understand, and move to acceptance of who your partner is – this trumps any need for problem-solving.