Recently my dear Aunty Pat died. She was in her 90s and lived a happy life - she had 5 children who’ve also gone on to have kids and even provided a few great grandchildren.
Even though I didn't spend a lot of time with her, she left me with a legacy about what a loving intimate partnering relationship can look like. And I’m truely grateful.
I spent time with Aunty Pat, her husband George and my cousins one long summer in my early teens. They lived in far North Queensland. It was hot, humid and fascinating. And I saw something that was new for me - a couple who had a quiet drink and meal together every night when George got home from work. THEY PRIORITISED TIME TOGETHER. They ate at their own table - having adult conversations.
Us kids rumbled together eating our meals on a big table. We could all see each other - including Pat and George.
I saw heartfelt connection and love between Pat and George. It was so obvious that this couple really loved each other and prioritised time together. It has had a lasting impact.
My other models of happy relationships have been few and far between. I believe most of us have really poor models of successful happy relationships. My own parents marriage included them shouting at each other as a form of connecting!!!. I cant recall seeing my own parents connecting in the same way that Pat and George did.
So as a coach, counsellor and ‘chief unsticker’ do i have any suggestions other than make time for your relationship? - YES!!!
1. Catch your partner doing something right. Every day. Say thank you. Appreciate and validate them. HINT - so often the focus is on the partner doing the wrong thing.
2. Are you in a new relationship? Check out my red and green flags list below as a way to hone in on whether your new person is right for you.
3. And if you are in a long term relationship already, these lists might help you really focus on appreciating the green flags already happening (thank your partner) or help you discuss a red flag and bring the relationship back into fitness.
4. SPEAK your truth. Most people don’t like being in a difficult conversation and we don’t like delivering them. We all have that in common. You will likely worry about getting your words right; you're concerned about their reaction and you're anxious about the consequences. But NOT having regular discussions means you’ll be carrying that heavy weight. So get communicating. Setting an intent for the conversation always helps - eg (I’m wanting to feel close). Start the conversation off with saying your intention.
5. Notice behaviour. Keep your word. What does your partner do and what do you do? - not what you say you’ll do.
6. Go on dates - just you two. Make time like Pat and George to connect to each other every day - prioritised attention. And if you have kids, know they will be learning about relationships by watching you.
7. Get help if you need it. There is nothing better than personalised assistance.
GREEN flags (deal makers)
- Is self responsible - can look after themselves
- Practices regular self care such as exercise, eating well, sleep.
- Addresses personal concerns and behaviours when they are out of balance.
- Supports your self care and personal growthHonours boundariesIs self reflective.
- Has long standing friendships.
- Communicates openly with you and wants to do thisIs empathic and vulnerable.
- Has similar values and beliefs (Eg spiritual, humanitarian, anti racist etc).
- Is encouraging of you and your Ive, hobbies, family.
- You can be your authentic self around them and feel comfortable in their company but can equally look after yourself if they are not around.
- They are responsive if you need help - ie you are a priority.
RED Flags (AKA deal breakers)
Your partner is.
- Is financially reckless or obsessed with money or gambles.
- Has a dark or secretive past.
- Has unresolved relationships and isn’t dealing with them.
- You have values clashes eg racist or sexist. Or you have a clash in life outlook - eg wants/ doesn’t want children.
- Has unpredictable or controlling behaviour.
- Has a drug or alcohol addiction that they are not dealing with.
- They are violent, angry, abusive or controlling.
- They tell lies or they seem untrustworthy.
- Your gut instinct tells you something is not right here.
P.S. People often stay in unhealthy relationships because they fear loneliness. They forget the price that is paid from being compromised. Going through the hard times which happen for couples is different to staying stuck in a bad relationship. Get help and get resourceful.r Remember you can have a 10 minute free chat with Margo - go to this link to book in- calendly.com/margofield. \