Living together in a relationship can be complicated. In this post you will learn about five steps to strengthen or save your romantic relationship.

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The post is written by the author behind the book Opp fra avgrunnen (Up from the Abyss), Kristian Hall.

Here you read the whole post:

Not all conditions deserve to be saved. And it is not so easy to know if a relationship you are in is in this category. I think that taking an troublesome relationship through a cure as described in this post will be a good test of whether it is actually worth saving. If your partner does not show interest in making an effort, it is a bad sign. But it can also mean that the person in question has not perceived that the relationship is actually deteriorating.

If you want to save (or strengthen) a close relationship, you have to be two about it.

If I am to interpret the statistics for my blog, there is more than a 90% probability that you who read this are a woman. You are probably the woman in the relationship who sees that it may need a vitamin injection. The first step should therefore be to get your partner to also make an extra effort, preferably inspired by some of the measures below.

One can use the measures below to strengthen a relationship that is already good, or at least ok. And what's extra cool is that the measures (with the exception of what I write about sex) will work on all relationships, both romantic relationships, friendships and relationships between family members.

 

1. Learn meta-communication

Humans communicate all the time. Not just through language, such as conversations, text messages or reactions on Facebook, but first and foremost perhaps through body language. Research has shown that more than 90 percent of communication is non-verbal, and that body language accounts for more than half of communication between people.

I think the main reason that relationships go awry is that communication is poor. And to improve communication, one must practice meta-communication. Meta-communication is simple and straightforward communication about communication. In practice, this means that you should talk about how to communicate, as well as talk about how you react.

All people have trigger points for different reaction patterns. Some have more trigger points than others, and some have stronger reactions than others. Understanding each other's trigger points is for me the alpha and omega of a relationship. Triggers can be both positively and negatively oriented. 

 

Earn easy "points"

To begin with the positives. Most people have different little things you react to very positively. To take an example from my own everyday life: Both my wife and I are big tea enthusiasts. Serving a cup of tea in the morning, or in and of itself at any time during the day, brings joy to both of us, which is many times greater than the measure of brewing a cup of tea.

So here is a great potential to earn "girlfriend/boyfriend points", with almost minimal effort. Everyday life offers hundreds of such small opportunities, but I think many of us are not fully aware of this.

How can these possibilities be identified? By asking your partner. "What can I do that makes you extra happy in everyday life?"

The negative triggers work in parallel, but with opposite signs. You are not your partner, and you can not believe that he or she reacts like yourself. Even if you couldn't care less about dusty window frames, it may be your partner hates intensly. So here you can earn "boyfriend points" by wiping dust more often. Also for the negative triggers, one usually has to ask the other to get them revealed. "What do I do in everyday life that irritates you?"

These are simple, almost banal things, but 99% of life consists of just such simple, banal things.

 

After arguments...

Have you had an argument lately?

Meta-communication is extra important in such situations. Once the emotions have subsided, you can have a gentle conversation about what went wrong. What triggered the quarrel? Why did it escalate? Do not talk about guilt in this situation, because it is insignificant. It takes two to tango.

But understanding which buttons were pressed on each other, and which chain reactions were triggered, is absolutely essential to strengthen a relationship. For this to work, both parties must enter into such a conversation with an open mind.

It is easy to fall back into the quarrel again in such a conversation, and that is the reason why one must proceed cautiously. If you notice that the quarrel flares up again, you can withdraw, and rather try again another time. Meta-communication is a trait that requires training (like everything else in life), and it is wise to start carefully.

 

2. Practice gratitude

Those who have read my book, or other blog posts, know that I cheer gratitude as a contributor to more everyday happiness. Gratitude can also be used to advantage to strengthen relationships.

All you need to do to achieve this is to remind yourself and your partner of all the good things you have had and have together.

Look at pictures of trips you have been on together. Talk often about good memories. Remind each other of the wonderful home you have created together. Do you have children, remember that you brought this into the world as a couple. Be good at praising each other for the positive qualities you have, and for what you both bring in to the relationship. When one of you performs a positive gesture of the type described above, express gratitude.

One can actually influence the degree and direction of feelings one has towards another person.

To achieve this in a positive direction; sit in a good chair (do this while you are alone the first few times). Close your eyes. Imagine your partner as he or she looked when you first met him or her. Highlight the qualities you fell for. Intensify the colors and sharpness of the image. Turn your image into a motion picture. Add background music you like. Imagine this as a movie where you are the camera.

Run this video every day and vary the content; run different small sequences, taken from several nice memories. Choose only positive memories when you do this, otherwise you will have the opposite effect.

 

3. Experience something intense or exciting together

In a social psychological experiment, a group of subjects was divided into two groups (group A and group B). Each group consisted of several couples, where each couple had not previously met each other.

Each couple in the two groups was asked to cross a bridge. The couples in group A walked over a solid stone bridge. On the other side of the bridge, they were asked to score the extent to which they wanted to meet the other again on a later occasion.

The couples in group B walked over a cheap, scary suspension bridge. They, too, were asked to score the desire to meet the other again.

What do you think happened? Yep, you guessed it: the couples who had crossed the scary suspension bridge together had a significantly greater desire to meet each other again.

This is a psychological phenomenon that is exploited by those who want to establish ties between people in a group, such as in a military unit. Experiencing something emotional or even frightening, forges human bonds.

And you can of course use this to strengthen your own relationship. Just come up with something fun you have never done together before (and that both feel like), preferably something a little hefty and exciting.

Nature experiences are a very nice source of such things. Go for a hike. Or go rafting. Or take a ride together. What you do is not important, as long as it is something both experience as positive.

 

4. Give time and space

"If you love somebody - set them free" - Sting

There is a big difference in the extent to which a person needs his or her "individual" time. Personally, I have a very great need for this. I am also fortunate to have a wife who fully understands my need for this (and who has the same need).

There is an optimal level for how much you are together, given by the intersection of the individual's need for free time. This is one of the things you have to figure out, and the only way to find out is to talk about it.

You can give the other as much space for individual time as possible, without it affecting your own needs, and the needs of others (as common children). In other words, one must find the ideal compromise. We need a little distance from each other to feel the longing that underpins attraction.

In periods of life (as in the toddler life) there is little room for free time. And during those periods, time is the best gift you can give your partner. Time for anything - a jog, a few beers with friends, or just to sit and relax.

Next to time, space is one of the most valuable things in a relationship. Room to be yourself. You can not change your partner. To even try this, is to poison a relationship. You have to let your partner be himself, it was after all the person you fell in love with.

Note that there are unsympathetic personality traits that one should ideally change over time. Such a change must come from the person himself, not from you. One can facilitate change, and motivate for change, but the process of change itself can only come from the one who has something negative to change.

A little comment on the page here. If you have a partner who is violent or who abuses you or others (physically or mentally), change is not the focus. Then it's just a matter of getting away. Violence is never acceptable, not in any variants.

 

5. Have lots of physical contact

Physical contact can be the "glue" in a relationship. Through physical contact and sex, there is a physiological change in the body that directly strengthens a relationship.

What I'm talking about is the production of the hormone oxytocin, the love hormone itself.

Oxytocin is the hormone that is formed when an infant breastfeeds its mother. But it is also formed by any other form of physical contact, and the contact does not have to be romantic or sexual. The hormone is absolutely central in the attachment process between two people. If you get a hug from a friend, or a stranger for that matter, then oxytocin is formed in the body. Oxytocin is stress-reducing, and leads to feelings of well-being, calm and security. It is a hormone we need to live good lives. It is no coincidence that more and more salons are appearing in the world's big cities where you can be cuddled (not sex, but neutral body contact) by a professional cuddler.

Make lots of good body contact with your partner.

And feel free to expand to good sex. If you are there that you have lost the desire for each other - then you get far by giving good long hugs, or by lying or sitting close to each other. Massage is a combination of physical contact and giving a gift in everyday life.

If you look at this post as a whole, the summary is that you go a long way with a combination of generosity and gratitude. If you add a good portion of understanding of the partner and his / her needs and reaction pattern, you have the recipe for a long and close relationship.

Good luck!

- From the website Kristianhall.no

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Written by

ove heradstveit

Ove Heradstveit

Psychologist, specialist in clinical community psychology. PhD.
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