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The secrets of staying close as a couple

Facing Challenges · 4 min read

In the early days of romance I felt incredibly happy, excited and, yes, anxious too …it was a roller coaster of emotions. I would get a thrill when Mark walked in the room, electricity would shoot down my spine when he touched me!

In some ways I wanted those heady feelings of being in love’ to last forever, certainly the highs’ …the lows’ were exhausting.

But, we all know that relationships don’t stay the same, they are always evolving as we encounter the natural challenges in life (home, jobs, bills, stress …) as well as deal with changing dynamics as a couple (different needs, different ways of managing conflict etc…) 

Facing struggles is inevitable, the question is: will you grow stronger through them, or will they drive you apart? 

WARNING! Hidden dangers for relationships

There’s a myth that arguing a lot will result in break up, many of us have visions of couples ranting and raving and then filing for divorce. But the stats tell a different story because only 9 % of couples who break up have a high conflict relationship i.e. arguing a lot, a year prior to splitting. 60 % of couples are both happy and not quarrelling a year prior to splitting. BUT, almost a third (27 per cent) of couples cite drifting apart’ as the reason they divorced.(Statistics: Marriage Foundation).

…we mostly do our own thing.”

…we don’t talk much any more.”

…we get into bed, turn over and fall asleep, pretty much every night, often we go to bed at different times.”

…we just don’t have any fun any more.”

…we want different things.”

You may think: So what? Move on…nothing wrong with that.” But here’s another bit of fake news: splitting up and starting again is easy …but it’s not! Unravelling a relationship is painful and messy, practically and emotionally, especially for couples with kids. People like to tell themselves otherwise, but kids really suffer.

So what’s the key to NOT drifting apart’? How can we grow stronger together instead?

3 secrets to staying strong as a couple

1. Growing a deeper emotional connection. It’s about understanding your partner’s world and being attuned to your partner’s needs, being kind, caring and supportive. This builds love and trust and you can do that one moment, one action, one day at a time.

TIP — Spot your partner’s need or bid’ for connection today e.g. Aargh, I hate this computer, it’s not working!” (= help me with this) I had a tough day.” (= I need to unload) Then respond by giving your full attention to listen and talk. Be present. No interruptions. No phones. Just a few minutes…

It’s also worth adding that the bedrock of emotional connection is spending quality time together ( Date nights do strengthen marriage ) and communicating deeply, beyond the day-to-day, getting to know the inner world of your partner: their hopes, dreams, fears and philosophy on life. Basically, really talking.

2. Not letting conflict go underground. It’s so easy to sweep issues under the carpet’ as the saying goes. If you’re the sort of people who like harmony and avoid arguments then the temptation is to not say when something is bothering you. The trouble is that if we make this a habit then we can wake up months or years later feeling resentful and bitter without knowing why. It’s all those unresolved little issues causing a bad smell under the rug!

TIP - Find a positive way of saying something that is bothering you by talking about the benefit for you as a couple e.g. Hey, it would be so much nicer for us and guests if the house was tidier, please could you make a habit of picking up after yourself and putting things away?”

3. Consciously developing a we-inspired’ mindset. This means deciding to do what’s good for us’ and not just what’s good for me’. I actually find this quite hard because I’m such an independent person. This is also about the language we use, talking about we” and us”, thinking of yourselves as a team.

TIP — Toucan Together’s new Growing Module sets up some great conversations about strengthening your relationship as a couple. You’ll discover how to grow together through 5 common relationship challenges; explore 5 ingredients for a thriving relationship and find fresh perspectives for marriage (whether you’re married, living together or dating). You’ll also hear some great real stories from couples talking honestly and openly about their relationships. GET STARTED | LOG IN

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