How do I make my relationship work?
How are we supposed to know how to make a relationship work if our family of origin didn’t give us a good model to copy? It’s always tempting to blame parents, since we learned about relationships by watching them. But our parents learned their relationship skills from THEIR parents. How are we supposed to learn a better way of being in relationships if there is no place to learn those skills? For some reason it seems like we are supposed to be born knowing how to be in healthy adult relationships.
Where would we learn good “adulting” skills? Maturing, emotional intelligence, communication, and relationship skills aren’t typically taught in school. If we don’t learn them at home, where would we learn them? It’s not magic. Healthy relationship skills don’t just come to us while we are sleeping.
So where do we learn good relationship skills? We have to take action to learn anything new. We have to read books, listen to podcasts, find good examples, and get rid of all of our current bad habits. How hard it is to come up with a good exercise program, then to actually get up to exercise? Why would we think getting good relationship habits would be any easier?
If you want to improve your relationship, couples counseling can help.
What can we try on our own?
If you are not ready for couple’s counseling here are some ideas to try:
- Initiate a shared activity – sometimes it is easier to connect with someone you care about when you are shoulder-to-shoulder in a shared activity (Don’t overthink this. It can be as simple as an evening walk through the neighborhood where you talk about your day)
- Create technology-free zones in spaces you share – Do you ever feel like you’ve lost someone you care about to technology. Try starting with no technology at the dining table or in the bedroom.
- Ask someone you love to tell you one thing you can do to make them feel more loved – You might be surprised by the answer.
Relationships take work
In order to change a bad habit, we need to have another behavior in mind to change it with. It also takes repetition and practice to change a behavior. For example, if you are good at being passive aggressive with your partner, you will need to have another behavior ready to try instead of being passive aggressive. Maybe telling the truth up front instead of holding it in would be a new behavior. You would need to continually practice managing the fear of being honest in order to prevent yourself from being passive aggressive later. Managing and facing fear takes a lot of work both emotionally and cognitively.
How would you know what behaviors are working and which ones are no longer working? Do you have the courage to ask your partner, family, or friends what they think of your behaviors? What would prevent you from asking them? Maybe those fears are the first thing to tackle.
Couples counseling can help you and those you love establish better relationship patterns. Both face-to-face and online counseling are beneficial for couples wanting to work on their relationship. If one or both of you have hectic schedules or inflexible jobs then the convenience of online counseling may appeal to you.
Sometimes one member of a couple wants to go to counseling, but the other does not. If you find yourself in this situation, counseling can still be beneficial to you. Your therapist can help you understand what you want and need in the relationship you are in and whether those things are achievable for you in your current situation.