Okay, so you feel like you’re in love… or at least it seems like you are. After all, you’re in a committed relationship. But how deep do your feelings really go? And what are the odds your pairing will stand the test of time?
Believe it or not, the answer to both of those questions isn’t up to fate or science or any other external factor. It’s up to you – and your partner of course!
What is an ideal relationship?
First things first: before assessing your relationship in these terms, it’s important to acknowledge that ideal does not mean perfect… because perfect doesn’t exist! All of us have flaws, which means that no one is going to check off every single item on any of our checklists – at least not in the ways we’d initially expect. However, an ideal relationship (read: one that’s right for you) is possible. And you shouldn’t settle for anything less!
In a truly healthy relationship, both partners feel like they’re part of one team, even though they have individual identities. As they go about their days, separate or together, they know they can count on each other, confide in each other and connect with each other – emotionally and physically. They cheer each other on to their biggest wins and console each other when a loss occurs. They get to know each other’s soft spots and tolerate occasional hard headedness. Above all else, partners in successful relationships feel connected and they know that fostering their connection (and strengthening it) is not as simple as just signing up for the game. It requires attention – and sometimes adjustment.
Access your relationship
In order to tell where your relationship’s strengths and weaknesses lie, ask yourself the following questions. Then work on any areas where you feel you may need improvement. Always be open with your mate about your concerns and be sure not to adopt an accusatory stance as your approach. It’s a team effort, always remember… and depending on the situation, both of your services are required to coach.
Fill in the blanks
How well do I know my partner? Their stresses? Their life goals? Feeling that you know your partner is a key indicator of a relationship’s depth. It helps inform your decisions and makes you feel invested. So, if it seems that you’re missing some key information about your mate – their ambitions, what makes them smile or what’s getting them about a current situation (say at the office), the best thing you can do is ask them! Open up the door to getting to know each other on a deeper level. Agree to be each other’s sounding boards. Doing so better enables you to be each other’s support systems, too. This is the first step to true intimacy – and the one that will keep you bonded during difficult times.
On this note, how well does your partner know you?
While your partner is responsible for their half of this equation, too often we expect what we’re not willing to give… which is never fair. So, if you want to know your partner, then you’ve got to let them get to know you too. You’ve got to give of yourself! If you need help getting started, here are a few suggestions.
Tell them your emotions (and not just the good ones)! Talk about your dreams (even if you think they sound silly). Share the goings on of your day (without worrying that it seems trivial or that doing so will stress them out). In addition to all the bonding benefits already mentioned, opening up enhances our ability to read each other, a skill which is key to braving stormy waters. As scary as it can sound, it also helps us to feel safe. After all, the freedom of being yourself with a person is hard to replace. The better you and your partner know each other, the more likely you are to remain committed.
Respect is the glue
Do we treat each other with respect… tenderness and affection? While it’s easy to subscribe to a “we always hurt the ones we love” philosophy (especially after we’ve been less than sweet to our significant other), respecting our partners and treating them with care is the true measure of a bond’s depth. Sure, we’re bound to get irritated with each other, but if we’re constantly chipping away at each other, the relationship is suffering (and weakening). It’s also likely someone is taking the other for granted – and oftentimes both partners are guilty.
So, rather than give into your moods – or always freak out when your lover does something that irks you – make it a point to be tender with your partner, even if it means going against your urges sometimes. Be constructive in your criticism when you have to give it (remembering that sometimes, you can hold it back… even if it’s just until the right time comes along). And lastly, never underestimate the importance of affection. Being physical with your partner (in and out of the bedroom) is part of the glue that keeps you together. And not only does frequent physical contact help to boost your emotional bond, it can help enhance your sex life, too! Something, which in and of itself, goes a long way to deepening your love.
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