There are many reasons why relationships work or don’t work for the individuals involved. Making relationships work requires more than just pointing the finger, but also taking accountability for each person’s part in whatever relationship problems persist. There are several happy relationships to model after, using their ‘secrets’ to being in a successful relationship. However, if there are issues that are going unnoticed, there are remedies to help bring these concerns to the surface and also provide a resolution. Also, if there aren’t any current relationship problems, people can benefit from knowing how to prevent future dilemmas and improve their confidence in their union.
There’s been quite some controversy on the effectiveness of couples therapy when it comes to healing relationship problems. Some people go into these sessions with the intent of making their relationships work, but end up realizing that it’s probably best to split. In fact, some studies report that up to 38 percent of couples who receive marriage counseling get divorced within 4 years of finishing therapy. This is not to say that the counseling is ineffective because it is also important to note that research done by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists shows that 97 percent of families and couples who have attended family and couples therapy session said that they received the help that they needed (Tasker, n.d.).
A huge reason why couples therapy is unsuccessful for some couples is that they use it as the final resort. When some individuals choose to try couples therapy, it is not necessarily about how to make relationships work. Instead, it is to see if their relationship can survive the months and many times years of unaddressed dissatisfaction and/or traumas. Therapy doesn’t and shouldn’t be an option someone considers after exhausting all of their choices. It is proven to be very beneficial as it allows a specialist who is qualified to manage the complex relationship dynamics and tackle individual issues. In many cases, a couple may take their arguments to a family member or friend which results in a very biased interaction in many cases. Having a mediator and outside perspective from someone who holds no preconceived biases can offer the couple the objective and critical advice needed to improve their communication.
When looking for a specialist, both individuals should make sure that they both find a therapist that they can agree upon and resonate with. Couples therapy should be utilized at the beginning of a relationship to build an understand and establish a healthy foundation of communication between the two parties involved. One person may be predisposed to walking away during a heated argument, whilst the other just wants to talk immediately. A couples therapist can help create standards and boundaries for future arguments so that communication improves to prevent any plausible long-term resentment or discontentment. Be mindful that therapy doesn’t need to be frequent, but consistent.
Small Romantic Gestures
There is the idea that after a couple surpasses the ‘honeymoon phase’ of their initial relationship, everything seems to mellow out and become dull. For some reason, it’s very common that after a few years of involvement, happy couples grow a bit distant of each other. When a couple first gets together, there is usually this concept of courting where there are endless dates, long conversations on the phone, romantic weekends, and intimate gifts. The overall cadence of a new relationship brings forth new and refreshing energies. This doesn’t have to stop as couples progress through their engagement. Small romantic gestures are one of the many traits that produce and maintain happy relationships. Small romantic gestures that are consistent demonstrates a continued commitment to the partnership(Verdolin, 2015). Romance shouldn’t just be reserved for Valentine’s day or rare occasions. Instead, in making relationships work and prosper, couples can do small, everyday actions to show their appreciation and love to their partner.
Types of romantic gestures:
- Dancing (attending a concert or a workshop)
- Help carry bags to show one another appreciation and cooperation
- Massages after a long day at work to display appreciation
- Exchange gifts (something that is personal to them)
- Hold hands in public as a symbol of appreciation and reassurance
- Give compliments to each other
- Prioritize time together by arranging a date or movie night
As mentioned above, during the honeymoon phase, many happy couples can’t resist but to be around each other constantly. At first, it can be an overall exciting and intimate experience. However, as time passes, these happy relationships undergo a bit of exhaustion and the two parties want their space. Too much of anything is not healthy. In fact, there are plenty of happy couples that have their own rooms. When sharing a space with someone every day, it doesn’t give a person much room to be alone with their thoughts. Everywhere they turn, they likely see this person which can be especially problematic after an intense argument or disagreement. Lack of personal space can lead to feeling fatigued, feeling overwhelmed, and/or feeling trapped. Making relationships work does require communication, but communication is not needed at all times. Sometimes making relationships work demands a little distance to look at the relationship problems from afar.
It is not just emotional space that is necessary, but physical space is also significant in providing a sense of independence for both which allows the relationship to grow and flourish. If the relationship is based on ‘completing each other’, then that is called codependence which stunts growth and is also called meshment (Kim, 2018). To make relationships work, it is important to have a healthy perspective on self-love and acceptance which requires a person to become a whole piece themselves instead of seeking their ‘other half’. Happy couples understand the magnitude of self-love. Too often people hold the belief that someone outside of themselves is supposed to complete them and in pursuing that ideal, they find themselves filling a void with people who carry many of the same traits that they were familiar with since childhood. These partners that they attract can exhibit dysfunction, but because it is so familiar, the individual subconsciously repeats the same ‘cycle’ of trauma. Being conscientious of oneself as well as knowing one’s personal boundaries within as a singular person is highly recommended in making relationships work prior to being in the union to ensure the partnership is genuine.
Happy relationships do take conscious effort and a little compromise. Making relationships work, however, doesn’t mean that someone compromises themselves or their independence. It’s okay to maintain individualism within the partnership while also reassuring the partner through romantic actions. Making relationships work means not just being honest with each other but with one’s self. If a person is unaware of what they want out of the relationship, it can result in a host of problems. Chemistry doesn’t equate to compatibility one must be sure of their own interests and standards in making relationships work effectively. By emulating the traits of people in happy partnership, both people will find how easy it is in making relationships work in their favor with little to no tension and a lot of love, understanding, and empathy.
As much as we want your relationship to workout, sometimes divorce IS the right answer.
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