Relationships can get tough. Sometimes it just feels like it shouldn’t be this hard.
As individuals we are complex and over time we change and develop. All of us. People change, relationships change. Whether we want it or not.
Sometimes the changes are wanted and sometimes they’re not by one or more of the individuals in the relationship. Sometimes the changes aren’t where we want them to be and actually the biggest issues in the relationship need to….but don’t ever seem to change.
Every relationship will be different but there are a number of key things that can make or break them:
- Communication – are you able to communicate within your relationship? Do you feel heard? Do you listen? How do you feel when you’re spoken to? How do you feel when you speak? What emotions come up for you and why? Do you struggle to get your message across to your partner? Do you end up yelling at each other? Is it easier to just keep quiet? Do you get the silent treatment? Do you communicate well in your relationship or is there room for improvement?
- Expectations – Understanding everyone’s expectations within a relationship and managing those expectations is really quite important in terms of sustainability and longevity. Do you even know what you want or need from your relationship? Do you know what your partner wants and needs from you? Did you ever talk about what each of you expect from each other and the relationship? If expectations aren’t compatible, what does it mean? Are the individuals in the relationship willing to accommodate each other’s needs, wants and expectations? Of course, expectations will also change over time as your needs and wants change too. How does that affect each of you and how will you manage those changes?
- Contact and connection – Whether it be physical, mental, sensual, erotic, or virtual – relationships generally need contact and connection. Individuals that have no contact or connection – aren’t in a relationship. What kind of contact do you both need and are you able to give? How will you maintain contact and connection? How will you manage changes to the contact? Is there too much demand for contact – do you feel stifled or suffocating? Do you see yourselves “growing apart”? What is that like for you both and why does it happen? Is your connection healthy?
Beyond these simple questions there is so much more of course. As individuals you are made up of who YOU are and your life experiences bring you to this relationship with everything that you are to your core. Your fears, your beliefs, your values, your traumas, your previous relationship experiences, your family history, your education, your childhood development. Everything that you are. How well do you know and understand yourself? How well do you know and understand your partner? How do these things impact upon how you communicate, your expectations and your ability to connect? What else affects your relationship? Drink? Anger? Violence? Sex? No sex? Not the kind of sex we want? Family? Friends? Work stress? Health? Addictions? Financial stress? Ex-partners/wives/husbands? Children? What kind of impact could improved communication, managing of expectations and contact have on these things in your life?
Are you ready for change?
A lot of people aren’t really ready for change. They think they are – but change is uncomfortable, it’s challenging, it’s hard – especially when the change needs to come from you too.
If you’re ready for things to be different then maybe it’s time to reach out and accept some help. You’ve been trying to sort things out by yourself and some things have been positive and some things haven’t. If it feels like you’re struggling to figure out how things can change then counselling can help. A counsellor is not there to fix anything for you – a counsellor doesn’t have all the answers. There is no magic wand. But having someone hear you – I mean really hear you – without judgement and without agenda – having someone see your world and be totally accepting and willing to look at it with you and work with you to figure things out – THAT is what helps bring about change. The sort of changes that you want and need.