LifeWorks: Tips for Building a Strong Relationship
When you hear about couples who maintain a strong relationship through all of life’s challenges, you may wonder how they do it. Every couple is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for a good relationship. But people who’ve stayed together for a long time tend to have some of the same things in common. Here are a some tips:
Have a strong commitment to making your relationship work. Most couples start out with a strong commitment to their relationship, but after a while, they begin to give it less attention. Staying committed begins with accepting that having a good relationship takes work. It’s important to accept some “rough patches” as normal and inevitable. Instead of trying to pretend that they don’t happen, make a commitment to solving your problems together.
Think of yourselves as friends, not just as a couple. Couples who stay together see themselves as good friends. They share a variety of activities, enjoy each other’s company, show respect and trust in each other, provide support in good times and bad, and don’t take each other for granted.
Accept your differences and disappointments. You and your partner may share many interests, but you probably won’t share all of them, and one of your challenges as a couple is learning to live with your differences. You may also have some disappointments along the way. At every stage of your relationship, it’s important for both of you to know that you’ll love and cherish each other even if things don’t always work out as expected.
See yourselves as equal partners. In successful relationships, two people may have very different roles, but they see themselves as equal partners. One of the best ways to foster this kind of equality is to ask for the other person’s opinion frequently and show that you value it. Also, try to make joint decisions on big issues and learn to find creative solutions or make compromises when you can’t agree.
Pay attention to how you communicate. One study found that couples can stay close by spending as little as 20 minutes a day simply talking with each other. The quality of your conversation also matters. Researchers have found that couples who stay together are much more likely to give each other praise, support, or encouragement than those who break up.
Handle disagreements constructively. Because it’s impossible to avoid all arguments, it is important to know how to resolve conflicts and deal constructively with your differences. This means never making personal attacks, which can destroy your trust in each other or chip away at your feelings of being loved and valued. It also means saying “I’m sorry” if you said or did something you regret.
Make sure each of you has some privacy and independence. This means that each member of the couple needs time to be alone, time alone with friends, and time to pursue personal interests. Giving each other time for individual pursuits may also strengthen you as a couple by bringing new experiences and new friends into your life.
Have fun. No matter how hard they work, couples who stay together usually make time for fun. What you do isn’t important; what’s important is that you spend time together having fun.
The LifeWorks program also provides a network of counselors who can offer you in-person support. The service is free and available 24/7, whenever you need it, and it’s completely confidential. No one at work or at home will be told that you’re using the service. You can also find online resources at www.lifeworks.com including articles like: Communicating as a Couple and Keeping Relationships Strong as we Age.
Call LifeWorks at 888-267-8126 or visit www.lifeworks.com.