Intimacy involves sharing our thoughts, desires and feelings with the other person. Passion is partly about having a healthy sex life, but not exclusively. It can also involve sharing an interest, cause or belief we feel passionate about. Commitment is about both partners making a conscious decision to stay together long-term, in good times and bad times; to work together to resolve difficulties and differences and to resist the temptation of unfaithfulness that we all sometimes feel. Unfortunately, the subject of commitment in a relationship is something we don’t often read about or hear discussed. We seem to focus more on our rights. Some of the issues couples fight about most are finances, a new baby, step-children, disruptive teenagers and sex. There will be rows in any healthy partnership but if we can communicate and connect with mutual trust, respect and understanding we are on the right track. We need to let our partners know who we are, what we need and how we feel. Each partner needs to feel able to be open and honest without the fear of rejection or being judged.
The number one issue couples argue about is money. Usually it’s actually the things that money represents that invoke some of our deepest fears and can cause us to react strongly. Money symbolises power, security, trust and worth; our very survival even. Financial anxiety can cause insomnia, depression and anger; it can destroy partnerships and marriages. Talking about it and being proactive is the key and there are many charities and organisations that offer to help people deal with financial difficulties free of charge.
Coping with a new baby is another thing that can cause problems between couples. Suddenly, it’s difficult to find time for ourselves and uninterrupted time for our partner, so we have to be proactive and make it happen. Our sex life can change and so it needs attention. Suddenly, not only do we have to juggle family life and work, we also have to start agreeing on how to bring up a child. So talk to your partner and other parents about these matters, be supportive towards each other and share the workload. Make sure you regularly get a babysitter and have a date night. Romance is the language of love and expressing our love for each other in every situation, through words and actions, is one of the things that help to keep us together.
Step-children can pose a challenge. New skills are required when blending families and our own feelings, our partner’s feelings and those of the children all have to be considered. Open and honest communication, support and understanding between partners are essential. Discuss guidelines and boundaries concerning bringing up the children. Agree on your roles within the new blended family and make sure the children know where they stand. Talk to the children, establish new routines and allow for the fact that there may be some resentment while everyone gets established.
Stroppy teenagers can be challenging and worrying. Teenagers are desperately searching for independence and trying to find their identity. During this time their emotions run high, they push against the boundaries and create a power struggle between us and themselves. Parents can feel rejected and criticised and if the situation is not handled well the home can become a battleground. This is a time of transition into adulthood; they are beginning to form their own opinions and beliefs and their own plans for the future. This is normal and healthy; they may no longer be influenced by their parents and this can be hard for us to accept. Teenagers need our support, validation and encouragement if the transition is to be a successful one.
Through all the challenging times that life brings into a partnership we have to keep working at the relationship in order to keeping it strong, healthy and loving. If we neglect it we are in danger of losing it so we should never stop nurturing the intimacy, passion and commitment. Keep the romance alive. Some people are more comfortable than others with being “touchy, feely” but each time we hug and touch the other person we strengthen our ability to give and receive affection. Hugging, touching and kissing make us feel good, because endorphins are released promoting feelings of wellbeing. And if romance is the language of love, then perhaps kissing is the food of love. A kiss can lift a moment and brighten any day.
For more information please visit www.gerricrossleycounselling.co.uk