It's usually around valentines day when I'm asked to give comments on relationships, and it's an area which I have also covered during my workshops. At the moment I'm being asked for my thoughts on Love Island, so I figured it was a good time to release a quick series of blogs on this topic.
Making a relationship work is as much about being mindful, not only of your authentic feelings, but also of your interactions with your partner. Relationships take effort, but it doesn't have to be hard.
Here are my top 5 signs that you've got a good 'un.
So she’s a little bit older than you; or maybe your upbringings are completely different; perhaps culture, gender or religion still plays a part. However, you’re together now – and you intend to face the nay-sayers more successfully that Romeo and Juliet.
It sometimes seems that everyone has an opinion about relationships – whether they are in a happy one or not; and that opinion can begin to affect friendships and families. It is always a shame when often outdated traditions or believes pose barriers to the path of romance – but when you can persevere, make adjustments, listen and adapt – and do it as a team, you may find that family and friendships as well as love prevail.
“Let’s talk about this later.” If you can maintain a united front, and work on your differences when you have the time, head and emotional space for clarity and discussion, this is often a good sign. More so if it is a matter of course for your relationship.
While a relationship is not a merger where one person’s opinions or beliefs subsume the other’s, but rather a unification where you continue to learn and grow individually and as a pair.
Individually everyone will have their good days and bad days, we will say or do things without thinking, and sometimes if we have been trying to change something about ourselves we will slip up. It is most likely that we will have chastised ourselves about that and sometimes need that outside voice to say “It’s ok, let’s try that again.” When you are in a relationship, you are often privy to those desired behaviours, and are best placed to offer motivation or supportive guidance.
To your partner you are not a parent, an elder sibling, the “brutally honest friend” – you are a confidant. While sometimes you may need to offer constructive suggestion, other times you may just need to listen and be there – and as a pair (especially in front of children), you are on the same side.
You can celebrate each others’ success without envy. You are delighted when your partner gets their promotion, wins an award, or achieves a personal goal – even if this precipitates a potential change in the way you currently live your life.
You know that whatever the future has in store, you will work together for the best outcome for your both. Sometimes one of you may make a sacrifice, the next time, it’ll be your turn to benefit. While this system of “checks and balances” is not explicit, nor is it used negatively against the other, it means that you are aware that while you can enjoy your success alone, it’s often made even more pleasant by your partner at your side.
So it’s 6am, you’ve been up since 3 and still the passports were left at home, the suitcase broke, plus the tickets are actually for tomorrow’s flight. Unless one of you had specifically – and honestly – said “Have you got the passports” and the other replied “Yes, I can see them in the bag” (or something as direct) – when things go wrong, you know that both of you could have double checked.
It’s very easy to blame the other when you are angry, but the reality is you are often angry at the situation foremostly. Yes, perhaps you did have “other things to worry about”, but if you mutter the “I knew I should have checked” which is often a follow up slap in such arguments, perhaps you also need to consider – you still didn’t.
While constant mishaps may need a rethink on the planning process, when things go wrong, you work together to achieve a successful outcome rather than seeing success as who apportions the most blame.
Relationships are organic. They will continue to evolve and grow as you do. It means that you sometimes need to take a moment to see that while you are travelling in the same car, you both want to end up at the same destination.
Relationships will always face struggles, but if you remain actively aware of each other you will often be able to address any worries before they grow - or worse, fester into resentment. You may also find that there will be a point at which a relationship has run it's course. Again - this is a realisation best made sooner than later because, pychologically speaking, there can come a point beyond which you feel "I've given too much what's a bit more." - and somehow you both choose to sacrifice happiness for tolerance. While there can be very good external reasons for this, your focus must then be on those rather than your sacrifice - for your own mental wellbeing. I've had a "starter husband", and I know how it feels to live in constant compromise. I also know how hard it can be to learn to trust, communicate honestly and appreciate that while you can of course be strong and whole alone - a good team can be a bonus.
Audrey is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), and the author of "The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness" (2018) and "Be A Great Manager - Now" (2016) She is a CPD Accredited speaker, trainer, and qualified FIRO-B and NLP Practitioner. She is the founding Development Coach and Training Consultant with her training consultancy CLICK Training, and the resident psychologist on The Chrissy B Show (Sky191), the UK's only TV programme dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. She consults, coaches and often presents at National and International conferences in the fields of leadership and team cohesion, as well as being part of the Amity University conference panel. She currently lectures in Personal Development and Mindfulness and provides psychological consultancy in these areas to organisations.