It was Nelson Mandela who said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Having spent the past 20+ years helping couples learn how to have a healthy relationship, we have found that translates to GET MORE UNDERSTANDING and then BE MORE UNDERSTANDING. This blog is a summary of the 7 things we have found helped the most.
I covered steps 1-3, on how to GET MORE UNDERSTANDING, in an earlier blog. If you haven’t already done them, I strongly suggest you go back and build that foundation now, before returning to this blog. No shortcuts! Find them HERE.
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to put your education into practice and BE MORE UNDERSTANDING. Here’s how:
Step 4 – Plan for balance.
Armed with your lists of respective strengths & weaknesses, and family goals & priorities, divvy up responsibilities across various roles and priorities for the best balance. Do this by being mindful of current practicalities in your life/stage of a relationship, like who’s the main breadwinner currently, child/parent carer responsibilities, etc. Include things like family care (cooking, housekeeping, DIY, gardening, child care, etc), family logistics (diary movements, activities), fun (downtime, gifts, holiday planning), family admin (utilities, insurance, etc) and of course finances (budgeting, saving, investing, giving).
Check back in every now and again to see how things are working… but once you’ve divvied them up, your gonna need to trust each other to do your bit. That’s how great teams work!
Step 5 – Prepare for “grace”.
Know from the outset that NOT everything will be plain sailing. Your partner is likely to mess some things up. And so are you! Given your common language and a new understanding of WHAT’s been going on and WHY, be ready to forgive and show grace when they next screw up or do something you find irritating. And remember Karma too… coz your turn’s a-comin’!
Step 6 – Focus on giving. Go out of your way to make your partner feel special.
Remember Love is a verb. Speak their Love Language(s) daily and focus on meeting their needs. Before long, they’ll start feeling so loved that they won’t be able to stop themselves from loving you back! As the saying goes “If you make your woman feel like the Queen, she’ll sure make you feel like the King!”
Step 7 – Commit to “feeding” your relationship regularly.
As someone once said, relationships are like the wheel alignment of your car – keep driving and, over time, the front wheels will work themselves out of alignment, the car will start pulling to one side… and the tires will start to wear badly. To keep it running smoothly you have to take it in to have the wheels re-aligned. Ignore the “drifting” signs and you’ll need to replace your tires sooner. The translated implications for your relationship… well let’s not go there!
Here are a few tips to get you started. Plan DAILY little gestures to feed each other’s souls (think “back rubs” or speaking tenderly to each other, etc), WEEKLY dates (out or in), MONTHLY/ QUARTERLY outings together (shopping/dinners/spa days), ANNUAL events (holidays, couples retreats)…
On average 1 out of 2 marriages currently end in divorce. The break-up stats for cohabiting couples are worse still. Despite best intentions, there are a whole lot of unhealthy and unhappy relationships out there. It doesn’t have to be that way. While we can’t all change the world, we definitely have it in our gifts to improve the health of our relationships. Learning and adopting these 7 steps is what saved our marriage in the early days and allows us both to continue enjoying a healthy relationship 24 years on.