I'm not trying to get on the bandwagon with all the relationship specialists and books out there, but I do have a few couples that I counsel. There are a several things that I see that come up often.
I see where a lot of couples forget to date each other. Dating doesn’t stop once you're married or in a relationship - still continue to go out together. I know there may be a lot of other things on your plate with work, children and daily tasks. However, it important to make the relationship a priority too. Have a month date night at least once a month.
Here are a few tips for dating -
- During the date try to avoid talking about the bills and kids.
- Talk about plans for future dates or things you want to do together.
- Bring a list of questions to get to know each other more.
- Do some fun activities on the date like bowling or skating etc...
Now, if you bring the kids or other people it doesn't count. It should be one on one time. Continue to do the things that you did in the beginning of the relationship. What's your partners love language? Go back to bringing gifts, affirmations or massages. This helps to reconnect with each other, and not become just roommates or business partners.
I have also seen issues within a relationship regarding the other person's kids. If you are in a relationship with someone who has kids and you didn't take the time prior to the evolution of the relationship or marriage, please please take time to build a relationship with the kids as the relationship grows going forward. Take them out separately. Get to know the kids and what they like and enjoy. Have conversations with them outside of redirecting them or giving them advice. Make sure you are clear about what role you will play in their life, but still build a relationship.
(I might need a separate blog for this one but here we go!) The biggest issue is communication. Many couples tend to stop listening to each other or only really talk when there is a problem. Make sure you are actually listening to you partner. Everyone can hear but listening takes practice. Listening means turning off the internal conversation and being present. It means not thinking about what you are going to say next. Take time to communicate with each other daily. Other communication issues include bringing up all the problems in the relationship at one time. Focusing on one issue at a time helps to get the problem solved better. I have noticed patterns of inappropriate communication (ie - yelling, talking over each other, name calling or ignoring each other). Much of this occurs when there have been many issues that have been ignored or not addressed over a long period of time. This is a person you hopefully love despite your anger. You want to treat them with love and respect. If you really need to - take a time out and come back to the conversation when you're calmer.
If you have issues in the relationship don't be afraid to go get some help. Find a relationship counselor. If you are just talking to friends about it, that sometimes only makes things worse. Not dealing with the issues doesn't make them go way.