Handing out advice for friends about relationships probably comes naturally to you. From afar, it can be easy to see the problems within the partnership. However you see how your relationship measures up when you're getting these subjective slices of a love life? Let's look at five types of relationships and what you can learn from, you are only getting his or her side of the story. This means that you're not getting an objective eye in on the love bubble.
So, how can m them. And while you're at it, pass on the advice you learn to your best friend.
THE INDEPENDENT PAIR
This couple can be slightly confusing. They may, or may not, have kids, and are in a committed partnership, but you rarely see them together. Keeping independent hobbies and even friendships in a relationship can be healthy. So, the fact that you see your significant other lunching with their friends while you’re hitting the hills on a mountain bike is a sign that you respect one another’s passions and need for space.
You may also know a couple that mingles separately at parties or gatherings. This too, is a sign that they're confident and secure in the relationship. They don't need to be together 24/7 or be serving up doses of PDAs in public. What you don’t get to see is the time they choose to spend with one another. It's more than likely intimate, engaged, and interesting – after all, they've got a lot to catch up on and share with one another.
If you feel you need to be with your other half constantly, perhaps consider introducing some independence into your relationship.
THE POWER COUPLE
They're the ultimate practical pair. Juggling work, sport, and raising children is no sweat for these two. They've got their schedules sorted, and their household runs like a well-oiled machine. They may even work with one another or own a business together.
You shouldn’t be fooled into thinking this is a relationship built on convenience. This duo is fully committed and communicates with one another like professionals. They've done the hard work already. They’ve mapped out their goals (personal and family), been clear about their needs and wants, and then compromised on things to make sure they're both happy with the status quo.
What can you learn from them? Jot down what you really want to achieve in the next five years. Get him or her to do the same. What’s the plan? How can you hit that finish line by supporting one another? Then get organised and find a way to make it work. Write up a tongue-in-cheek contract to make it official. You’ve just taken the first steps to becoming a power couple. But don’t forget to schedule in some time for intimacy too. All work and no play won’t make anyone happy.
THE FAMILY-COMES-FIRST COUPLE
They've got big hearts, and their home is always full of friends and family. They have no problem busting out an impromptu dinner party. Their laissez-faire attitude to life borders on the chaotic.
It may not be your speed, but what this couple has going for them is the ability to be flexible. They've prioritised their kids and friends because this is what grounds them as a couple. They don't sweat the small stuff and have learned that changing plans at short notice has benefits. It prevents them from getting stuck in their ways. They draw strength from embellishing their relationship with the strong bonds that family and friendship brings them.
Some couples find it challenging to integrate their families and friendships, but this couple has managed to do so and is reaping the rewards. It may feel awkward and feel a little forced at first but make an effort to introduce your partner to more than your inner circle. Create opportunities for your extended family and friends to really get to know each other beyond a polite handshake.
COUPLES WITH A STRONG OPINION
They profess their love and adoration for one another, but this couple usually treat each other like siblings rather than partners. The constant disagreements can be exhausting for those around them, but for them it works.
All is not lost in this type of relationship. They've got a lot going for them. First up, their to-and-fro conversations indicate that they feel safe in the relationship. As long as the arguments don't descend into belittling, accusations, or bullying, feeling safe enough to be honest with your partner is a positive thing. Another positive aspect is that because feelings fly freely, there is less opportunity for deep resentments to build up and eventually explode.
But there is a middle ground to be found. Arguments needs to be framed in a way that is productive. You have a mini disagreement, you both have your say, and you ideally come to a compromise. That's how grown-ups do it! The relationship is healthy if they can have a good laugh about their tiff afterward.
If you avoid conflict in your own relationship, maybe speaking up about the small stuff with your partner could kick start a new, positive line of communication. According to psychologists, keeping your relationship healthy hinges on communication, and it is crucial. Accepting that that the dialogue will occasionally include disagreements, is important. How to get it right? Speak up, but also master the art of listening.
THE ADVENTURE SEEKERS
You know this couple. They're the ones who seem to have avoided the boredom and monotony that inevitably creeps into a relationship. They've never lost the spark, and always seem to be doing something new and interesting. So, here's the thing. From the outside, it may look like they're spontaneous kids in love, but they’re working HARD to keep it that way.
They know that their relationship needs to be fuelled by the energies of other people and experiences like travel, great food and adventure. They've got hobbies and interests that feed them.
Participating in any new activity with your partner floods the brain with the same hormones it was exposed to when you first met. You don’t need to go bungee jumping every weekend. But changing things up a little will keep the buzz between you. Keeping the relationship interesting and building memorable moments together is the key to staying connected to your partner.
WHAT’S REALLY AT WORK?
Communication, trust, respect, independence… these are all words we've come to understand that form the framework of a healthy relationship. But if we look at the five types of relationships above, there's more at play.
Having insight into your partner's personality, needs, and emotional make-up means you have the ability to separate the situation from the relationship. If they’re in a grumpy mood because they're stressed at work, for example. It's not you; it's them. How can you support your partner through the stressful period? If you assign this thinking to most problem spots in your relationship, you'll become skilled in finding resolutions and solutions to triggers rather than giving in to the drama of the moment.
Mutuality is the ability to recognise that you both have your own needs that exist outside of the relationship. Perhaps daily exercise is a necessity for you. He or she would rather you were bingeing Netflix on the couch. Neither of you needs to win this battle. But if neither of you is willing to share what you need and why, there's no way either of you is going to be able to haggle out a compromise.
Finally, being able to regulate your emotions is a relationship skill that will get you far. Not everyone is born with emotional intelligence, but it doesn’t mean you can’t build this muscle. Practice makes perfect. Count to ten before you answer your partner if you find yourself about to react negatively. If it's a bigger issue, take a deep breath, sleep on it, and confront the problem with them the next day when it doesn't feel as raw.
When you break down the five types of relationships we’ve filtered through, you can see that all the couple skills needed are alive and kicking in each of the scenarios. You can turn your current relationship the right side up by infusing your partnership with these healthy attitudes.