In working in this field, I have been asked before what my #1 piece of advice for couples is. I’ve been thinking on that and I can narrow down to these three parts. And if I want my couples to get anything through their experience in therapy with me, I hope they at least leave with these in mind. If I had a message for all couples to hear, it would be these three:
Show your partner how important they are to you
This is surely my #1 piece of advice. I think most couples could use a reminder of this every day. We have a natural desire to be comfortable and get in a routine of things. It’s such a privilege to have someone be such a regular part of your life that you forget to show them how glad you are to have them there.
But the desire to feel appreciated by our partner doesn’t fade with time. We may grow in the security of the relationship, but we always want to know that we are a loved, appreciated, part of our beloved’s life, just as they are to us.
This does not have to be a grand gesture. Simply rolling over in the morning with a smile can do the trick. Whisper that you’re so glad you have that person while they’re cooking dinner. Bring home they’re favorite candy next time you’re filling up at the gas station.
Regardless of how you make your person feel loved, just remember to make it a priority to make it known how important they are.
All too often the communication I see in my office involves someone feeling that a message was sent, while their partner didn’t receive it at all – and now feels lost and confused about signals.
Do not assume that your partner knows what you are trying to tell them. You may know each other better than anyone in the world, and you may be able to predict each other’s every movement. But something you assume will be obvious to your partner is probably often misunderstood or misinterpreted.
I like the term explicit because voicing out loud and being specific about what you want and need is an essential part of the relationship.
And if there is a block that keeps you from being explicit, explore this with someone you can open to, or individual or couple counseling.
Have Support and Resources for Your Relationship
My last bit of advice is that one of the best things you can do to protect your relationship is to have an army of support and resources for it. Supportive friends, friends of the relationship, family, and community are all a part of those resources.
It’s important that you as an individual, and you as a couple, have people you can turn to that respect the relationship and are invested in it as well.
An important resource can be couples you look up to and remind you what love can look like. In this world where sharing is as simple as clicking a button, dirty laundry, conflict, and hurt are easily seen and can be a potentially harmful influence to the relationship. Having another couple that you look up to, that can remind you that not every day is perfect – but is worth it, can help keep you on track in the tough transitions. Tough transitions should be anticipated and planned for, and are not a red flag of the relationship.
Another wonderful resource for the couple is of course, therapy. I tell all my couples as they are transitioning out of couple therapy that I hope they can use me as a resource any time in the future when issues arise for them. Having a therapist who knows your relationship is an amazing resource that you can go back to again, and again. I am a firm believer that therapy can be episodic, and I wish more people used us as family doctors, whom you can go to any time for varying reasons.
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I believe you need to invest in relationships for them to maintain and thrive in connection and intimacy. There is an intentional effort to improve and grow together throughout the development of the relationship. These three pieces of advice are only small, but important skills to focus on. If you want more information on ways to prepare your relationship for a lifetime, feel free to reach out to me personally.
Thank you for reading.
This Post Written By:
Kelsey Riddle, MS, LAMFT – Therapy With Heart
8737 E. Via De Commercio, Suite 200
Scottsdale, Arizona 85258
Phone: (480) 888-5380
Fax: (480) 203-2881