Try a Little Tenderness
Previous The Bridge participant Jordan Stephens shares his perspective on a new kind of masculinity and why it’s so important…
March 8, 2018
A healthy, happy, intimate relationship is not guaranteed for any of us. No matter how deep the love, a relationship requires cultivating and caring for to enable it to grow and be the best that it can be. This requires us to question and address our own behaviours, remain curious and open and manage our expectations within the relationship.
1. Clear Communication
Nobody will be surprised to see this on the list. Communication is essential to a healthy, happy relationship. This doesn’t just mean talking honestly, it also includes being conscious of the language you use when speaking to your partner – avoiding using words like ‘should’, ‘shouldn’t’, ‘always’ and ‘never’ nor coming from a place of blame, judgement, or criticism. Communication isn’t just about what you say either, it’s about how you listen. Really listen, not just waiting for your turn to speak.
2. Couples that Laugh Together, Stay Together
Shared humour is such an important aspect of a healthy, happy relationship. Life doesn’t always have to be so serious and neither do your issues. Create new ways to be playful, respectful and have fun together.
3. Resolution of Conflict
Making time to address problems and resolve conflict as and when it arises is essential to a healthy relationship. Sweeping issues under the carpet breeds resentment, you need to keep talking, keep listening, and keep conflicts current. When something comes up, talk about it and resolve it at the time. Bringing up the time your partner left the loo seat up in 1995 isn’t helpful..!
4. Shared and Individual Interests
It’s important for any relationship that we have our own individual interests and friends as well as shared hobbies and activities. If you only spend time together as a couple, this can lead to unhealthy levels of co-dependency.
5. The Importance of Touch
This means more than just sex. Non-sexual touch such as holding hands, cuddling, stroking, or simply sitting on the sofa with your feet in your partner’s lap. Connecting through the body is so important to retain closeness in a relationship.
6. Letting Go of Ego
There is a quote ‘in order for two people to be happy in a relationship, their egos need to bow down in honour of that relationship’ and it could not be truer. When you feel the need to win or be right in an argument, this is your ego talking. It may offer you a shallow victory but will not bring happiness. Try to allow your partner the benefit of the doubt and be generous when they make mistakes, just as we all do.
7. Be Realistic About Expectations of Your Partner
We are raised on fairy tale ideals of relationships. From Disney movies to romantic comedies, we can have expectations of our partners that simply aren’t attainable. For example, we can expect 100% loyalty and trustworthiness at all times, which are childlike, unrealistic expectations. Humans are fallible we all make mistakes – you will and so will your partner. Develop more realistic expectations of the other, not of a perfect partner but another real and ‘flawed adult’ just like you.
8. The Importance of Beginnings and Endings
Making time to notice when your partner comes into the room and when they leave. This is so important in long-term relationships where it’s easy to slip into complacency. Make a point of greeting and welcoming them when they come home, take time to look up from what you’re doing and really say goodbye when they leave. Don’t take them for granted. Humans are fragile and we like to be acknowledged.
9. Quality Time
Make time for each other. You need to prioritise your relationship just as you did when you first met. For example, put dates in the diary for a date night or a weekend away just the two of you. It doesn’t have to be anything big, even just a night in bed with a takeaway and a film, so long as you are spending time when you are really together and focussing on your connection.
10. Vive la Difference!
It’s important to celebrate that your partner is not like you. Constantly thinking or saying ‘if only you were as tidy as me’, or ‘as sociable as me’ or trying to change your partner to be more similar to you is not healthy. You were drawn to their difference and how boring it would be if we were all the same. There is a theory that we see in our partner a lost or forgotten part of ourselves – the part of us that we don’t feel safe sharing in the world, so instead, we unconsciously search for these qualities in others. So go ahead and celebrate the differences between you and your partner, they offer a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow together.
Sign up for our monthly newsletter for all the latest news and information about The Bridge Retreat and so much more…
Don’t worry, your privacy is important and we won’t share your email address with anyone.