Updated: Feb 26
Valentine's Day is just around the corner. This is the day we all take stock of our relationships, whether they are good, not so good, or non existent. Valentines Day can be a very emotional day because quite honestly, good relationships are probably one of the very top desires in most people's lives. When they are going well, they can be a source of great happiness, support and buffer against the strain of life. When they are going poorly, they can impact and add stress and pain to every other area of life.
The majority of people desire a loving healthy relationship. And that is not just with a partner. People long for good relationships with their children, their parents,their friends and neighbors. We all long for connection, to know and be known and to be accepted.
Relationships Matter- Significantly
So the focus this months blog posts will be the development of strong and healthy relationships. For today we will talk about a romantic relationship with a significant other.
The relationship model follows the Metanoia model in the fact that What you KNOW, how you HEAL, and how you GROW impacts the health and vitality of your relationship. Let's break it down
A few things to KNOW-
Know what you bring into a relationship from your past. Our relationship styles form in the very first formative years of our lives. For a look at attachement styles see this article here. When we know what we bring to the relationship, we can have an understanding of ourselves and how our own attachment style impacts the relationship.
Know your partner-It helps to know what your partners relationship style is. Understanding anothers style of relating will help you understand the root of the way they might respond to problems the way they do.
Know your personality style, are you introverted, extroverted, an internal or external processer. Do you rely on your emotions or your thoughts more for information. And understand that your partner may be wired differently. Understanding and respecting and valuing one anothers differences is key to having good relationships. Here is a test you can take to find our your personality style
Know the unspoken rules and roles you grew up. When you can start reconize that not all families have the same rules and roles, you can let go of unrealistic expectations that everyone does things the same way and that those who do things differently are wrong.
Ways to HEAL
Anyone who matters to you in life is going to one day hurt you in some way, shape or form. This doesnt have to be a huge act of betrayal but it can be. It can be missing something important to you, unintentional slights, or difficult impasses. What matters is how you heal and repair the relationship. Good communication skills, conflict resolution skills, listening skills and assertiveness skills (the ability to ask for what you need) and perhaps counseling as a couple may be tools you need in your toolbox to repair relationship hurts, or deep wounds.
A few things that hinder healing and can increase pain-
Shutdown or distancing (for more time that just cooling down during conflict)
Turning toward someone else to soothe hurts, punishing your partner.
How to GROW- A relationship where each partner seeks to know their own strengths and weaknesses as well as their partners, who communicates with respect and who play to each others strengths, who repair wounds in the relationship quickly, will usually naturally move toward growth. But growth in a relationship should be intentional. Sometimes when things are going well, they can be put on the back burner while urgent problems are attended to and this can lead to relational stagnation.
Some things to help a relationship GROW-
Plan time together for recreation and enjoyment.
Keep intimacy alive
Spend time connecting each day and develop rituals to do so.
Continually seek to know your partner well, people are complex and deep, you can spend a lifetime learning about another person.
Commit to solving problems well.
Commit to a willingness to apologize and accepting apologies
Develop signals and a couple language such as inside jokes, code words, or looks that only the two of you know.
Celebrate special occassions together, big and small. Yes that means Valentines
Day included. And you don't have to get all commercial about it, you can do something as simple and meaningful as writing a love letter on Valentines Day.
Let your loved one know how special they are on special days and on all days. If you can as a couple KNOW-HEAL and GROW and commit to looking at each other through the lens of appreciation and gratitude, you will be able to a have what most people aspire too and many find hard to obtain.
If you are struggling in a difficult relationship, please seek support. As a therapist, I find that those who come in for counseling before one of the partners is completely checked out and noninvested in counseling have the best chance of turning things around. But don't give up hope even then, sometimes you may have to go to counseling by yourself if your partner is not willing. And sometimes when you are willing to work on changing some things
yourself, you give your partner something new to respond to and can break destructive patterns and that in itelf can be the start to turning things around.
This has been a been a part of the five minute friday writing prompt. I apologize, I started writing and just couldn't stop after 5 minutes as this is an area of passion for me. Please check out the FMF group and join along is you are working on developing a writing habit!