Everyday chatter consumes us all. We discuss what happened at work, what happened with the children, neighbours, friends, family, what has broken down, what has been fixed, about our hair, our weight, our activities and so the list goes on. We talk about everything but our relationships.
When was the last time you had a difficult conversation, a conversation that mattered, that helped you and your partner enhance your personal relationship so you are both happier?
Stress, arguments and when things go wrong, are the main causes of striking up a relationship conversation between couples. It’s usually about what’s not working in their relationship that comes under scrutiny. Recognizing and stating what’s great and why you are together is rarely analysed.
In a 14-year study of 79 married couples from the Midwest, Gottman & Levensen explored the predictability of divorce in early and later marriages. During the study, 21 couples ended up divorcing however the researchers noticed some key behaviours amongst couples who managed to stay together.
Some of the suggestions below are from the study and others I have added, enabling one to achieve a good personal relationship that will bring you a lifetime together.
- Tackle an issue immediately– if something causes a disagreement then tackle it immediately. Some people brood and let their arguments grow and it takes more time and effort to manage it than if it was handled right away. My parents would always say choose your arguments, some are small and not worth the effort but even if a big one, never go to bed angry with someone you love. Watch the body language you use, the tone, volume and the words you communicate with. You can disagree about anything but think about your communication approach and the impact it will have on your partner.
- Allow the other person to be heard. If there is something important about your relationship to discuss with your partner it is better to do it face to face than over an SMS or even a call. Don’t interrupt them until they have finished with comments or criticism, use a calm voice to respond and be open to what is being said. Allow them to have a voice, as there are no winners in conversations.
- Talk daily by checking in. This should be a priority to take the call and respond to your significant other. Showing interest in the other person is romantic and shows you care about them and have an interest in keeping the bond strong.
- Don’t be distracted by calls or social media on your mobile. If at home or going out and spending time together turn off the mobile. We are so attached to our phones and feel we cannot be disconnected because we may miss out on something. What are we actually missing out on except the company of the person we are with?
- Engage in a sexually satisfying relationship with your partner. In 2006 researchers from Chapman, California State and Sonoma State Universities together with the Kinsey Institute studied human sexuality. They studied the responses of almost 39,000 married or cohabitating heterosexual men and women who had been with their partners for at least three years. The research showed that couples with satisfying sex lives do a lot of communicating.
- Don’t stop kissing. Kissing is one of the most intimate things we do. If heading out or coming home a peck on the cheek is just that, but a passionate kiss is wow. It shows you are still alive, passionate and find the other still appealing. It unfortunately is one of the first things that goes when you are in a long term relationship.
- Start a list of things you have pleasure in sharing. Date night once or more a week is a great way to keep the romance going. Day to day life causes our plans to often fade away and if you have children you take second place. Aim for at least once a month to partake in something special together if you have young children. It can be as simple as a walk somewhere together, cooking together or going out to a movie or restaurant alone. Keep it regular and keep the flame burning.
- Keep the communication alive. When we first meet someone new we ask a myriad of questions about them. The longer we know each other the more we focus on talking about everyday issues. There is nothing wrong with this, but what we forget is to question ourselves and our relationship. Focusing on yourself is what makes you aware of how you feel and discussing it with another, allows the other person to know and reflect on what’s important to you both.
- Be honest. This is a big one for some people. Sometimes we neglect to tell our partners something out of fear or concern for the other. Better they know than don’t know as eventually the universe conspires somehow to unleash the unexpected and they find out. If this tightly held secret is one that causes pain the outcome can be devastating for all.
- Show respect and care. Keep each other informed about your individual plans. It’s not about asking the other person for permission but showing courteousy towards the other. Joking around is fine but not at another person’s expense and helping out with housework and supporting and caring for the other when unwell, always evens out in the end.
- Keep the spontaneity and surprises going and the romance bubbling along. Flowers, chocolates, tickets to an event show you care and add to the spice of the romance.
A conversation that matters should be undertaken daily, reinforcing the words ‘I love you’. These words can never be said enough as far as I am concerned and only brings happiness knowing that no matter what, you are unconditionally supported, cared for and how you personally feel is important to your other.
© Conversations That Matter