Building Healthy and Long-lasting Relationships
It’s the season of love! Get ready for an incoming flood of romantic dinners, flowers and gifts made with love on full display everywhere on social media. While Valentine’s Day lasts only for a day, it should be celebrated everyday with our partners…cliche, we know – but here’s why.
Romantic relationships have been found to impact the physical and psychological well being…individuals in healthy relationships report heightened emotional support, self-esteem, and quality of life. (Comprehensive Clinical Psychology)
To get the lowdown on how to build healthy relationships, we approached our in-house mental well being therapist, Alex O. who has over 10 years of experience, working with renowned companies such as Singapore Airlines and Coca Cola. She has also garnered experience as a behavioral therapist, psychologist and counselor in Michigan Community Hospital, Lakeside Family Centre as well as the Singapore Prison Service.
This year, we’re focusing on building healthier relationships by managing conflict and asking the tough questions. Keep your eyes peeled for more!
Building Healthy and Long-lasting Relationships
Strong research by Gottman Institute has pointed to the success of a relationship being tied to whether or not couples turn towards each other instead of away from each other. Individuals in a relationship will often make bids for connection to their partner, and the way their partner responds has a large impact on the couples long-term success.
A bid is any attempt from one partner to another for attention or any other positive connection, they are requests to connect. Bids show up in simple ways – a smile or wink, or more complex ways, such as a request for advice or help. A bid can look like: “What shall we do this weekend?” or “How has work been?” They could also give you a loving squeeze or hold your hand.
Turning towards each other starts with paying attention. By paying attention, you’re responding to that call for connection from your partner. Not sure where to begin? Here are some questions to get you started.
- What are some bids that my partner could be making in an attempt to connect?
- How can I start paying attention to these bids?
- What does it feel like when my partner doesn’t turn towards me?
- How can I get better at turning towards?
Trust is fundamental to a healthy and long-lasting relationship as it is tied to honesty, open communication, vulnerability, and respect, making it one of the most important aspects of a relationship.
Despite it being one of the biggest aspects, many struggle with trust in relationships. Here’s a few ways you and your partner can develop trust with each other.
- Practice being vulnerable and honest in small steps, build confidence in being more open with your partner.
- Be sure to be open about everything – finances, your past, and perhaps concerns with a family member. Don’t sweep important issues under the rug because this can lead to resentment.
- Challenge mistrustful thoughts. Ask yourself: is my lack of trust due to my partner’s actions, my own insecurities, or both?
- Listen to your partner’s side of the story. Believe that they are being honest and have faith in your partner.
We are told repeatedly that communication is vital in relationships. But do we know exactly how to communicate? It’s easy for us to communicate our own feelings, to voice out our personal thoughts and opinions, but many times we forget that communication is a two way street.
Effective communication involves both speaking and listening which requires time and effort. Here’s a few ways to achieve effective communication with your partner.
- Understand your own feelings. This unclogs your mind, not allowing any feelings of anger or sadness to cloud your thoughts and words.
- Don’t interrupt. When an issue arises, it’s easy for a talk to quickly become a screaming match. Give your partner the opportunity to be able to voice out their thoughts and feelings completely without any interruptions, and ask the same from your partner.
- Acknowledgement. Acknowledging your partner’s thoughts and feelings helps them feel heard and understood. This opens up a safe space for your partner to share how they feel.
- Listen more than you speak. Listening is to hear something with thoughtful attention, to give it consideration. This allows for more effective communication as it helps us understand things from the perspective of the other person. We are often caught up with our own feelings, but it’s also important to hear our partner out.
Relationships are difficult to navigate and it can often feel draining when issues arise, but with time and effort from both parties, you’re on your way to a healthier relationship. Remember, everyday should be Valentine’s Day!