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7 Lessons for Stronger Relationships

A good relationship starts at the beginning. Without a solid foundation, the future doesn’t have much hope. So, let’s say you’ve successfully courted the object of your love, wooed her on your first date and that vital second date, and it’s now official. What now? The game isn’t over. Just because your actions have lead to a relationship, that doesn’t mean you can relax and stop putting any effort in. A relationship is a flower that you have to constantly nurture, feed and water. The same goes for any relationship – not just romantic.

Let’s delve into what it takes to build and maintain a stronger relationship. By understanding these lessons, you’ll be able to navigate your relationships with finesse, self-awareness and a deep appreciation of not just your own value but the value of others.

1. The Basics

Problems don’t only come from within the relationship and the individuals involved. External factors can cause a great deal of stress in a relationship. If you’re struggling with money, looking for a job, or occupied with a particular personal issue, this extra pressure can cause outbursts and result in break ups.

Financial asymmetry can breed resentment between two people, but money isn’t the only factor that can put pressure on a relationship. Any source of stress, anger or sadness in one’s personal life can bleed out. Maybe you’re not getting on with your family or you’re worried about your health. I’ve said it before, but work on yourself first before worrying about being with someone else.

I’m sure many of us have seen Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs before;

This chart is a representation of all human needs, with the general idea that we can’t focus on fulfilling the needs on the next level up until we’ve fulfilled the needs on our current level. For example, a starving man might put himself in danger in order to get food, such as stealing or eating from unsanitary places. He would be so concerned with fulfilling his physiological needs he doesn’t care about fulfilling his safety needs.

In the same way, how can we expect you to give an intimate relationship the appropriate level of commitment when you’re still concerned where your next meal is coming from, you don’t have your own space and your health is deteriorating?

Make sure you’re not just surviving, but fully thriving on your own, before you try and enter into a relationship with someone else. Work your way up the hierarchy one by one so that you achieve independence before becoming a partnership.

Now I’m going to say something which may seem contradictory to the chart you’ve just seen.

2. Self-Esteem

After seeing Maslow’s Hierarchy, what I’m about to say may seem illogical.

Strong self-esteem will benefit your relationship.

Now, I know that esteem is on the level above belonging. Usually, you do have to focus on the level of needs below before you can focus on the level above. So, if you skip a step and are already fulfilled in the level above, think about how impressive that will be. Entering a relationship with you would be a a no-brainer. Not only have you fulfilled your physiological and safety needs, but your esteem too. There’s so much less pressure on your partner to fulfil your needs because you’re already on the level above.

Not only that, but humans are empathetic creatures. We tend to mirror the emotions of the people around us. If your partner is spending a lot of time with you, she’s going to start feeling like you feel. So why wouldn’t you want to empower her and help her feel good about herself, by feeling good about yourself?

So how do we boost our self-esteem? Crafting confidence for ourselves is a mostly internal mission. Celebrate your wins, learn from but don’t dwell on your failures, walk and talk like a confident man, and you’ll soon become the man you desire to be.

Set boundaries and respect yourself, whether it’s with your partner or anyone else. Boundaries protect our emotional well-being and preserve our self-worth. Communicate your limits and say no when necessary. How can you expect other people to respect you if you don’t respect yourself?

On the other hand, you don’t want to get stuck inside your own head. As soon as you catch yourself thinking too much about doing something, stop. Just do it. Become a man of action.

3. Communication and Active Listening

Great relationships thrive on effective communication. Imagine if the organs in the human body couldn’t communicate with each other. If the stomach couldn’t tell the mouth it was hungry, or the eyes couldn’t tell the hands to catch the ball that’s fast approaching. In fact, imagine any organisation that lacks effective communication. I’m sure you’ve probably dealt with a few in your time.

Without it, connections breaks down and they may as well not be connected at all. In fact, we have a name for these kind of relationships; parasitic. Take lichen, that grows on the bark of trees. The two are of course connected, but there’s no communication between the two. They’re not truly connected in the way that the bark is connected to the root or the leaf.

In simple terms, how is she supposed to know what you like or dislike if you don’t tell her? The same goes for her as well, of course. If she doesn’t tell you, how are you supposed to know what she wants? We all have different things that make us tick, and we each have a preferred love language. For example, you might appreciate time spent together the most, so having your dinner together is really important to you. One day you come home to find she’s eaten hers without you. Have you ever told her this is an important thing for you? If not, you have no right to be angry. Instead, use this situation as an opportunity to communicate that need. Don’t be a lichen.

People can’t read minds – yet. 

Communication is of course a 2 way street. It’s not about giving her a list of demands in the relationship. It’s about actively listening to create open dialogue and build trust. By giving your undivided attention, showing empathy, and understanding her perspective, you foster those healthy connections.

Effective Communication is also an essential tool for conflict resolution. If you each understand what annoys the other person, you effectively disarm any conflict before it even happens. Of course, with this knowledge comes great responsibility. If you respect and love your partner, you won’t say and do exactly what they hate during an argument just to hurt them.

4. Personal growth

Just because you’ve sorted yourself out at the beginning of the relationship, you shouldn’t stop there. So, you’ve got a job and sorted out your money worries, Is that enough? If your partner continues advancing in her career, learning new skills and forging new friendships, yet you’re still stuck in the same role after 10 years, there’s a real risk of stagnation, and this is a big factor in partners who separate.

Never stop seeking personal growth and self-development. You can always improve. Work hard for that promotion and never stop learning. Read up on topics you’re passionate about from appropriate sources – don’t rely on Wikipedia and Youtube, Recognise and accept your areas of improvement, and improve them.

5. Conflict resolution and compromise

Equipping yourself with with effective conflict resolution strategies is essential. Communication skill is just the start. Conflict resolution is a skill in itself. On the one part, you have to respect your own boundaries and wants, and don’t give up your own happiness for the sake of others. On the other hand, you shouldn’t compromise the happiness of a loved one for your own happiness, either. Instead, find a common middle ground.

Sacrifices must be made.

Through successful navigation of disagreements, without compromising your self-worth, you will stand out from every other relationship she’s probably been in. It shows maturity and self-respect. Let’s take a look at what makes effective conflict resolution;

  • Stay Calm

Before even reacting, count to 10. Take a deep breath in, let it out slowly and then think carefully about what you’re going to say. Make sure your response is logical, not reactive.

  • Listen

Actually listen to their point of view, and seek to understand where they’re coming from, even if you don’t agree with it.

  • Find common ground

Although you might disagree on one issue, it’s important to remember the good and remind yourselves of the connection you do have on other issues. Try to find a mutually beneficial solution.

  • Avoid Blame

Focus on the issue, not the person. Don’t let your ego get in the way and start insulting your partner or using phrases like the dreaded, “You always do this.” Remember that this is about the issue at hand, not about one person or the other being at fault.

  • Agree to disagree

Sometimes, the two of you might be unwilling to budge on one particular issue. It might be a better use of time to acknowledge that neither of you are going to change your mind just yet, but to respect their opinion and simply move on.

6. Support each other

A relationship is a partnership between two people. You’ll get out of this partnership whatever you put into it. Be there for your partner, and they will be there for you. With a little support, both your goals will be reached sooner than they could be alone. All it requires is a little self-awareness. This support could come in the form of emotional, motivational, and even financial, if temporarily needed. Of course, the risk here is that one person ends up leaning too heavily on the other and the relationship becomes asymmetrical again.

For example, if your partner tells you about an important achievement, it doesn’t take much to congratulate her. Understand why this is important for her, feel her excitement and mirror it back to her. Be as excited as she is. Similarly, if she’s got an important day coming up, wish her luck and tell her she’s going to smash it. Believe in her. Raise her up. A relationship should empower both individuals. If she’s started a new passion, encourage it, no matter if it doesn’t personally interest you or engage your values.

You’re stronger as a team.

 Likewise, make time for each other. It’s not enough to wait for a moment to come where you both happen to be free at the same time. Schedule it in, especially if you’re both busy people. It shows you care, and you place her high on your list of priorities. Make time for those date nights and weekends together. Romantic nights in will strengthen your bond.

Just make sure you still respect your own time and you make time for yourself too. There is a danger of smothering each other and feeling claustrophobic. A healthy relationship requires a little time on your own once in a while.

7. Stay sexually active

There’s one thing that connects us all; we’re all human beings. We all have physiological needs. Those needs include sex. A long term relationship doesn’t need to result in emotional and physical distance. The common joke is the married couple who haven’t been intimate in decades. That doesn’t have to be the case. Sexual frustration can be a real source of stress in a relationship, but it can be avoided.

Sex binds two human souls together, and has the power to forge powerful connections. There’s a reason we call it “making love”. It keeps the connection between two people strong, not to mention keeping a long term relationship fresh and exciting.

It requires a large degree of openness with your partner, which should come easily once you’ve mastered communication in your relationship. Again, listen and understand, find common ground and be willing to share your thoughts and feelings openly. If you do, she will. Allow her to explore her sexuality in a safe space.

Cheating usually occurs when a specific need isn’t being met in the relationship. There’s no need to go wandering if you get everything you want from within the relationship. If you continue to be open about your desires and needs, you can expect them to be met. If you communicate these needs and compromise when needed, you reduce the urge to fulfil those desires elsewhere.

Cultivating a healthy relationship takes a lot of effort, care and attention. You need to play the balancing act of continuing to work on yourself, while listening to and fulfilling the needs of your partner. It can feel like hard work at times, but the pay off is worth it. A fulfilling companionship with the one you love, being part of a supporting team, and that sense of connection are priceless. Together you can achieve great things.

If you never seem to be able to hold down a relationship, have problems in your current one or struggle finding one to begin with, look no further than one of my coaching courses. I’ve worked with countless men just like you for over a decade, transforming their dating lives and finding fulfilling relationships – we’ve even had marriages as a direct result of my course!

For those of you looking for personalised coaching sessions, guidance on building confidence, effective communication strategies, and further insights as to what makes a healthy relationship, then contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve your dating and relationship goals.

Want to read more relationship advice? Look no further than this section of my blog, and if you want more on a whole host of other topics related to lifestyle and dating, check out the wealth of articles on my website.

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