How Well Does Your Relationship Work for You?

How Well Does Your Relationship Work for You?

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Expert Author Susan Leigh
I remember meeting someone, years ago, who proudly stated that her husband had never once seen her without her makeup perfectly intact. She was always showered, coiffed and beautifully dressed in his presence. When I asked if that was not an exhausting way to live she agreed that it was; getting up before he awoke everyday and anticipating his movements was a full-time preoccupation, but that was how she felt she should be. That was how their relationship worked.
I doubt if many of us, of either gender, would be prepared to live like that. It sounds stressful and not real life. But I'm guessing that many of us will have things that we choose to keep private and not share with our partners. There will be certain things that we prefer to conceal through a desire to maintain some mystique or not become too vulnerable. We find the right ways to make our relationship work for us.
- It's often the case that we have different personas for different areas of our lives. When we're at work, with friends, family or at home we may find that we behave in rather different ways. Our partner may never see the side of us that gossips, complains, gets angry, as we may limit that behaviour to arenas deemed more appropriate. Our genius in some areas of life may potentially be our curse in others; taking home the highly-organised, fastidious approach we get paid well for at work might cause mayhem if we try it with the family! It's determining what works and is appropriate.
- The bathroom can be a no-go area for sharing in some relationships. Whilst some people don't mind who breezes in on them whilst they're on the toilet or in the bath, for others it's their personal time. Or they may wish for certain exercise routines or beauty treatments to be undertaken in private, perhaps out of embarrassment or from the simple desire to have a little personal space. We don't need to reveal everything about ourselves in order for our relationship to work well.
- For some people having a great relationship means never arguing, whilst others love having a fight, clearing the air and making up afterwards. In order to progress though, disagreements and arguments need to be handled respectfully.
If one person goes quiet and won't talk or shouts, hurls insults and refuses to listen it can be very damaging to a relationship. Most adults can cope with opposing points of view; they try to understand and accommodate why the person feels the way they do. Agreeing to disagree may be a suitable outcome, where both sides shake hands and acknowledge that they're unlikely to ever win the other over. But there's an appreciation that each is entitled to their own opinion and that often works well.
Adopting good listening skills, applying empathy and understanding enables a relationship to evolve and move forward. Keeping channels of communication open is important. Being keen to have regular conversations about real life stuff also matters, rather than internally sighing and turning away from the phone or TV screen. If time is constrained in the week it might be good to set aside a little time before dinner or bed to have half an hour's catch-up where you enjoy each other's news and discuss your thoughts and feelings. Invest in your relationship at weekends too and maybe consider a regular date night.
- Relaxed dressing can be an important part of being in a good committed relationship. Many people love coming home from work and changing into 'something more comfortable', though they're rarely referring to attractive, alluring attire - it's usually more about tracksuits and sweatshirts. It's great to be at ease with someone and be able to kick off your shoes, but it's important not to let standards slip too far.
Being relaxed is all well and good, but it's also important to keep on top of personal hygiene by showering regularly and looking after your health and oral hygiene. Enjoy opportunities to dress up and look nice reasonably often. Remember this is the person you were once so keen to impress. Look after your weight, wellbeing and appearance and continue to take a pride in yourself. When you take care of you and feel good about yourself everyone benefits.
We may look enviously at others with their ginormous diamond engagement rings and perfect lifestyles. Goodness knows how much those rings cost! But would you really exchange the tiny diamond chip in your ring for something flashier? It's travelled with you through the highs and lows of your relationship and was probably bought when you were both starting you life together. When you look at your ring you can really see what that tiny stone represents about your journey together, how far you've come. It's your story that matters and the way your relationship works well for you.

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