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Keeping your relationship happy and healthy

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Relationships today look very different to those of our parents and grandparents. Divorce and separation statistics have gone through the roof and people know that they have a lot more choice about staying together than in previous times.Keeping your relationship happy and healthy takes alot of time and effort from both parties, here are some tips on getting the balance right.

Put in the time and effort

One adage that is applied to a strong relationship is that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it, like a garden it is something that needs care, feeding, weeding and watering! There are three key areas in relating that benefit from regular attention, communication, intimacy and enjoyment. Good, honest communication is vital for the long term survival of a healthy relationship. What this means in practice is regular times with each other when you really set aside space to speak and listen to each other about how you are feeling about yourselves, each other, the relationship and life in general. There are several helpful tips to make these exchanges more productive and lessen the likelihood of them resulting into defensive and reactive exchanges.

Firstly make sure that you set time aside where you won’t be disturbed or overheard. Take it in turns to speak about your experience and make it a practice to ‘own your feelings and opinions’. What this means is that you speak from ‘I’ as in I feel, and I notice that … rather than the more blaming ‘you did …’. It is a much more vulnerable way of communicating but this is about opening up to each other and getting closer so vulnerability has its place!

Also in communication time agree that you are not going to interrupt each other, instead the person listening is doing just that, being present to you partner, hearing their experience and resisting any feelings of defending or attacking what they are saying. You might want to agree a time limit or you might want to use a structure or format such as one thing I am enjoying about life at the moment, one thing I am finding hard, one thing I would like from you and one thing I would like to give you.

Finally with communication time when one person has finished sharing it’s a really helpful practice for the partner to reflect back what they have heard being said. Not word for word, but just enough of a summary to check that what one person has said hasn’t been interpreted wrongly and heard in a completely different way.


Long term relationships can go through up and down periods in terms of physical connection and intimacy and as this builds up over time it can feel increasingly difficult for re-connection to happen.happy relationship One of the most common reasons for this taking place is unexpressed feelings about possibly completely unrelated issues. If one or both people are harbouring resentments, the heart will also be closed to other feelings such as attraction and passion. Going for a long time without any physical intimacy can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression. Communicating regularly will help clear the air of any held long term resentments and also putting regular time aside with your partner for physical connection is an extremely supportive practice.

Being physical does not mean sex!

Physical connection doesn’t necessarily equate with penetrative sex. It may be something sensual like giving and receiving a back massage or having a bath together or lying naked in front of an open fire. If you feel that intimacy always has to mean sex it could be really healthy to question whether this is a useful or limiting belief and it might be helpful to explore other ways that you can connect physically without penetration. This can help create a safe way of coming together if there has been a long break and overtime can really help deepen a physical relationship. Lastly in relation to intimacy it can be very reassuring to find information that shows that struggling with this at times is a normal and very common experience. See Ester Perrels talk on sustaining desire in a long term relationship for a helpful perspective

The last area of enjoyment is so important and like the other two can often be pushed to the bottom of the list when other things like children, work and family are competing for time and attention. Like everything else in life, relationships can become way too serious and lose sight of the fun and enjoyment that made hanging out with each other in the first place such a pleasure. Remind yourselves and each other of the pleasures of life that you do share and put in regular time to just



About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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