On relationships

I recently wrote a blog post about embracing okay, and why you shouldn’t strive for perfection in all areas of your life, as life is about the sum of all of its parts.  I had a good debate on Twitter with some other bloggers afterwards who said that the one thing in life that should never just be okay is your relationship.  Some said that your relationship should always be exciting, intense, head over heels type romance – but others said that they were happy being comfortable with someone, plodding along and just enjoying each other’s company.  It was also generally accepted that years and years into a relationship, it takes a lot of work to keep the exhiliration and butterflies alive.

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Tom and I have been together for almost six years now, and have almost been married a year.  I definitely think that just putting even just a little effort into being kind to each other and supporting each other really pays off.  We also try and ‘give each other a break’ as much as possible and let things go, particularly if the other person is having a tough week or if it’s just not worth it to pick up on something.  (Behind every great relationship is two people constantly letting things go!)

I was recently sent an article on expert tips to be closer to your spouse, and I found some of them really interesting.  I am a bit of a geek about psychotherapy and coaching (I’ve even just started an online Life Coaching Diploma) and these were all written by therapists, coaches and counsellors, so they’re all proven ways to improve relationships.  Although some of them I’m less sure of, there are several that really gel with me and I know I could try harder to do.  There are 27 in total, but here are my five favourites.

001. Being vulnerable is okay – Trust your partner with your fears and anxieties. (Don’t continually protect yourself by trying to appear to be in control).

Our book club recently read Brene Brown – Daring Greatly, which is an amazing book about taking the courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable.  Brene Brown says “Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel, seen, heard and valued – when they can give and receive without judgement.”  Sometimes, even though it’s difficult, you have to just be yourself, and be honest about the way you feel (even if it’s super scary).

002. Leave yourself out of the conversation -You risk alienating your partner if you’re regularly interrupting their conversation with comments like ‘that’s exactly what I went through.’

This is a bit of a personal bugbear of mine, not just in relationships but in conversations generally.  It really causes a rift if people constantly switch the conversations back to their own personal experiences.  I do try and constantly work on my listening skills – it’s a much better approach to just listen and try and understand things from their perspective.

003. Rid yourself of distractions – Life and work distractions can become paramount in our minds and during busy times it’s often your partner that falls down the priority list.  When other things are on your mind it’s easy to be distracted and not focus on spending quality time together.

This is definitely one that I could work on – I am a bit naughty at being on my phone when we’re watching a film, having the laptop out and tapping away at blog posts or thinking about the day I had at work.  I have a friend who recently told me that she always puts her phone on airplane mode when it’s date night (or even when she’s out with friends) as the best thing you can do for a person is give them your undivided attention.

004. Take some ‘me’ time – Sometimes the secret to a stronger relationship is learning to spend time away from each other.

I totally agree with this.  I think that having your own independence, hobbies and friends really is the foundation to any great relationship.  When Tom and I spend time apart I always look forward to seeing him so much more and we focus on spending quality time together.

005. Think of your relationship as ‘seasons’ – Instead of thinking of your relationship as an arc – with a beginning, middle and an end – try to think of it in terms of the seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter.

I haven’t thought about this before but I think this is a positive outlook to have on a relationship.  Sometimes things can feel bleak and difficult, or big changes can drive a wedge between you, but if you work through them you can come out of the other side and things can grow and flourish again (cheesy but true).

What are your tips for staying close to your partner?

*this is a collaborative post