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How couples can maintain healthy relationships

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Healthy relationships can help you live longer, deal with stressful situations better and improve your overall quality of life, but maintaining strong healthy relationships is not the easiest task. The following are some considerations to assist with improving your relationship.{{more}}

Tip 1: Understand that successful relationships take work

o The belief in the fairy-tale stories of happy ever after sometimes creates a false understanding of what it truly takes to have such an outcome. It is important to note that relationships involve the interaction of two personalities: two different interests, desires and aspirations becoming in sync into a unified energy. To this end, each day will present its very own challenges, which MUST be overcome. Both parties will be required to not only compromise, but also be totally committed to loving and respecting each other, as they continue on the quest for happy ever after…until death do us part.

Tip 2: You can change yourself; not your partner

o Very often I would hear persons speak (usually women) for finding the ‘one’… but even with that declaration, we hear a list of things they plan on changing, once they have sealed the deal in marriage or possibly took the decision to be exclusive or live together. If you love someone and think that after a while he or she will alter behaviours you find uncomfortable, think again. If there are things you do not like and may desire changes, your best bet is to present them early in the game and come to a mutual understanding of what is considered acceptable or what would be deal breakers. While we understand the need to make some changes to allow your partners to be happy… it is NEVER a good idea to lose your identity for the sake of a relationship, as this will defeat your hope for unconditional love in the long run.

Tip 3: All arguments usually stem from our own fears and pain

o When an argument occurs, it is useful that we check out what’s going on within us that may have led to us being upset, rather than focus solely on being angry with our partner. Truth is that we usually are not upset for the reasons we think we are. Our responses to situations are direct reflections of our thought processes and perceptions, either driven by fear and insecurities or by love and confidence in your love and what it can overcome.

Tip 4: Understand the gender differences and viewpoints

o Understanding and celebrating our differences will make living together more peaceful, interesting, and fun. It is important to pick your battles. The sexes will see certain things differently all the time; appreciate that and accept what cannot be changed.

Tip 5: Honour each other in some way every day.

o View each morning as an opportunity to make your relationship sweeter and deeper by recommitting to your mate. Feeling respected and cherished by the one you love makes life so much happier.

Tip 6: Be responsible for your own happiness.

o There is not another person who can make you happy if you decide not to be for yourself. It’s something you have to do on your own. If you feel it’s your partner’s fault, think again, and look within to find out what piece may be missing for you.

Tip 7: Give what you want to get.

o Our needs change with time. If you’d like to feel understood, try being more understanding. If you want to feel more love, try giving more. It’s a simple programme that really works; just plant the seed you seek to reap.

Tip 8: Get regular tune-ups.

o Keep the passions burning in your relationship. Keep each other stimulated and intrigued by seeking out avenues to be renewed and rejuvenated as a couple. Attend couples’ workshops, seminars and retreats; talk with a counsellor, or read a relationship book together at least once a year. Even if you don’t think you need it, you will pick up a couples’ of ideas, and the process alone will strengthen your connection.

Dr Miller is Health Psychologist at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

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