Do you dream of the perfect relationship? I think most of us do. As children and teens, you dreamt of the ideal relationship. Just like it was portrayed in the movies. It was magical!
When you got older, you probably found that a healthy relationship between a husband and wife is never easy. It takes persistence, dedication, self-awareness, and faith.
I want to encourage you in you in your desire to find joy and happiness in the relationship you have chosen. Here are nine ways to build a good rapport between you and your spouse.
1. Get to know yourself:
How can you get to know your partner if you don’t know yourself? Getting to know yourself takes time and dedication. You might want to ask yourself some deep questions such as:
a. What do I want in my life?
b. What makes me happy?
c. What gives me satisfaction?
d. What makes me angry?
e. What do I want to be doing in ten years?
f. What makes me uptight?
g. What do I fear?
I invite you to reflect on these questions through the sensations of your body, the emotions of the heart and the quiet of the mind.
You can do something physical like yoga, dance, walk, run, gardening, sports to get in touch with the sensations of your body. Take time to notice what is going on. Your body will help you to acknowledge what is going on and is less likely to lie than compared to your mind.
Warmth and relaxation in the body suggest you are getting healthier. Tightness and a lack of energy indicate you are experiencing dis-ease.
To get in touch with your heart, notice what is going on in your chest area. Is it warm or cold? Does it feel relaxed or tight? How aware are you of your chest area? A warm and comfortable chest suggests you have an open heart. A cold and constricted chest suggests a closed heart.
To open it requires you to breathe in your chest area. Often guided meditation and yoga can be of great help. Stay open to what your heart is trying to tell you.
How busy is your head? Do you have lots of conversations going on in your head? Too much going on in your head can create a lot of anxiety. Decisions can be overwhelming because your mind has too much going on at the same time.
The best way to quiet the mind is to do something physical like walking, running, dancing, gardening or something else. Other excellent practices are meditation and taking time to breathe intentionally. Find out what works best for you.
2. Excellent Communication:
When you need to communicate with your loved one, here are some practices to enhance your communication:
a. Stand or sit at the same level of your partner.
b. Look each other in the eyes.
c. Be aware of each others body language.
d. Ask questions of clarification if needed.
e. Say in your own words what you heard your partner say.
f. Use “I” statements. Take responsibility for what you say.
g. Do not blame. Stay curious about what your partner is trying to tell you.
h. Keep communication open.
Make sure you are grounded before you talk to your partner. Take a few deep breaths if you are feeling upset; and if you can not talk now make arrangements to speak at another time.
3. Deal with Conflict Openly:
Conflict happens every time there are at least two different opinions in a room. Conflict is normal and can be healthy.
When there is a minor misinterpretation, and resolution is possible; you just need to clarify what each of you intended to say.
If it is a more complex debate, you will require more time to work toward a resolution that will be satisfactory to all involved. Intentional listening takes time, requiring open minds, hearts, and bodies that are grounded.
If you felt hurt by something, your love has said or done. You need to be clear with her or him as to what you experienced, felt and thought. Keep your conversation descriptive rather than judgmental. Give your partner a chance to respond.
If you did something wrong, admit your error and show your partner that you won’t do it again. If you didn’t do anything wrong, don’t appease your partner to make them happy. Appeasing is destructive to the relationship.
Working through conflict should be a win-win!
At the beginning of your relationship, it is always easy because you are in love. You can not get enough of each other. But as the relationship continues on you need to choose to stay in love. A good way to nurture your love is to play together. What do you enjoy doing as a couple?
a. Do you like to play games? What games do you like?
b. Do you enjoy going to live theater?
c. Do you enjoy reading out loud a book to each other?
d. Do you enjoy singing? How about joining a community or church choir?
e. Surprise each other with gifts such as a bouquet of flowers or a ticket to show.
Make sure you have enough time to enjoy each others company. Do it at a time when you both have the energy to enjoy it.
Are you thinking of sex when I talk about affection? Yes, sexual intercourse is one small part of being intimate. But there are many ways you can express/share that deep love with your life partner. Show love:
a. By looking into each other’s eyes
b. By holding hands.
c. By cuddling on the sofa and bed.
d. By kissing.
e. By listening deeply to each other’s stories.
f. By enjoying a candlelight dinner together.
g. By doing something, your spouse loves, and you don’t.
Let each other know what you need to feel loved. Let your partner know what you enjoy. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. In the end be thankful they can’t know all your thoughts.
You need friends whether or not you are in a close relationship. No one person can provide all you need in life. Friends are the spice of life. They bring out different qualities in you that your spouse would. They are also there to give you another perspective on your relationship. When you are so close to another person, it can be difficult to see the truth.
You need a friend more than you need a spouse. As a human being, you are intended to live in relationship with others. You can not survive in our world without others. We are so interconnected that when one person hurts, we all hurt. When a person succeeds, we are all better off.
Forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood concepts. Forgiveness is a process. It can take a long time, even years. The goal of forgiveness is to release you from the negative experience so that the memory will cease to poison your life in the future.
In close relationships, forgiveness plays a vital role in learning from our mistakes. Forgiveness creates room for you and your partner to learn from your or your partner’s error of judgment.
If your partner is abusing you, first you need to get away to safety and later on and see how the forgiveness might look. Forgiveness could include staying with your partner if they take responsibility for their actions or leave the relationship for good if it is not safe to remain. Forgiveness is hard work!
8. Ability to Live Out Your Vocation
Over time you need to be able to live out your vocation. If your partner loves you, they will support you in living this out. You may not be able to do everything you like, but in the end, you need a relationship where over the long term you are going to be satisfied in how you are living your life.
If you keep putting your life on hold to meet the needs of your partner, this will eventually backfire. If you don’t honor yourself in the relationship, tension, in the end, will build up to the point that it flares into anger and resentment.
You and your partner need to find a way to honor both of you. When you are both happy, you have the best chance for a joy-filled relationship.
To do this you both need to express what you honestly desire in life. In the end, it needs to be a win-win solution.
To enjoy your relationship you need to take good care of yourself. You are your most happy when you take time to rest, eat well, get enough sleep, have a healthy balance between work and play and get enough exercise. No one feels romantic and sexy when they are exhausted.
So if you are missing sex in your relationship, you might want to check if you are both taking care of yourselves. If you are always fighting, you might both be too tired and stressed to think clearly.
If you find yourself stressed and tired; I encourage you to get, some help. See how you can better organize your life so you can slow down. Are you trying to do too much? Do you have a hard time saying no? What is blocking you from taking the time to care for yourself?
Then take one step at a time to add in self-care into your daily life. You might need to let go of things that you have no interest. The reality is that there is only so much time in your day to do what is important for you.
A good relationship between a husband and wife is never easy. It is a lifelong commitment. If you both are willing to see this as a great adventure, will be rewarded with surprise and joy. The moment your partner doesn’t surprise you, or you stop growing emotionally and spiritually suggests your relationship is getting stuck.
If you practice these nine tips, you are dramatically increasing your chances of having a long and satisfying relationship. Know yourself. Practice good communication. Deal with conflict openly. Don’t forget to play! Discover the type of intimacy you and your partner needs. Enjoy great friendships. Practice forgiveness. Find a way to live out your vocation. Lastly and not the least practice self-care.
A good way to get to know yourself and your partner through learning about the Enneagram. There are many books on the Enneagram. Here is a list of books you might like to read. The Enneagram will help you to understand each other better. It will help you to see your strengths and your growing edges.
Most of all take the time to enjoy each others company. Take the time to play. Make an effort to share with each other honestly. Accept responsibility for meeting your own needs.
If you are feeling stuck, don’t be ashamed to go for help. Talk to a friend, a spiritual leader, a coach, a counselor, or psychologist. Enjoy the one life you have.
Roland Legge offers coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families, and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information, please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by phoning Roland at 1 306 620-7478, or you can email Roland at firstname.lastname@example.org
This post was originally published on the REL Consultants Blog on September 26th, 2017