Every one of us wants to be loved. And very few of us think that should be hard! Most of us experience loving acceptance from the day we are born, so what is the hard work about relationships and marriage? Aren’t human beings hardwired to seek and maintain relationships?
Yes, but just as we need to have skills to gain employment, we also need certain skills to maintain committed relationships. And while loving trust is the foundation on which we build meaningful relationships, we must rely on and hone certain skills to maintain and grow those relationships. In the pursuit of building these skills, we sometimes read books about relationship development/improvement; other times, we can choose to invest in counseling to help us.
One of the most vital skill sets we touch on in couples counseling is communication; for example, learning to listen until our partner has finished sharing his/her perspective. Additionally, active listening also means listening to ourselves–what are we really thinking and feeling about our partner or a problem in the relationship? If we become aware of irritating behaviors in the other, that irritation has a message for us–listen to it. Can I let it go or will it take hold of me? If you can let it go, really let it go. If it grows, talk about it to your partner. You may already have communicated the irritation non-verbally without much awareness on either side. Bring it to awareness before resentment sets in and the environment begins to cool. After talking to the other, listen. Really listen–tell your partner what you heard her/him say. Describe your irritation again and listen again until both of you agrees to agree or agrees to disagree.
As our skill set grows, we can better deal with having sincere conversations during which we can clarify what we mean when we experience misunderstandings. Through counseling or on their own, couples can grow in understanding when an issue is a breach of trust or a matter of learning to live with their mate’s behavior; the things they sometimes do that we don’t like, even if those things don’t change the love we feel for them (the old adage applies: “I don’t like your behavior but I still love you!”).
If you, over time, take these steps to build an environment in which you look forward to seeing each other, feel pleasure when you see each other and can sincerely trust, sincerely talk, sincerely listen and sincerely laugh with each other, you will be sincerely joyful in the relationship. If you or someone you know is interested in building their relationship skills, contact us at the Counseling & Education Center, 970-243-9539 or visit our website.