Relationships are a lot of work and people constantly ask themselves why they bother to pursue one when it is bound to end in tears and anger and bitterness and heartbreak. I can’t deny that I share this sentiment too. However, for whatever reason, human beings still get up and try again despite disastrous conclusion to their previous attempts. Speaking to relationship counsellor Bill Chan from Eagles Mediation & Counselling Centre (EMCC), we find out what are the signs of a stable, long-lasting couple.
1) Solid Friendship. A good friendship forms the foundation of a stable relationship. It’s about building a road map of your partner’s inner psychological world and both experiencing the feeling of being known; with both parties being interested in each other. Couples can start by asking more open ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Open ended questions are an invitation to hear a story about that person.
Couples need to constantly build fondness and admiration for each other. It entails nurturing a habit of mind that looks for things to admire, appreciate and be proud of in your partner. These need to be expressed verbally, or nonverbally. It can be as simple as catching your partner “doing something right” and saying, “Thanks! I really appreciate it.”
A friendship is built when we make small bids for emotional connection throughout during the day. This is a fundamental unit of bonding. These tiny moments of connection build a kind of emotional bank account that either grows or is depleted over time. The emotional bank account is tapped on when there are conflict situations that put tension on the relationship.
2) Manage Conflict Well. Any couple in a relationship will be bound to face conflicts. Couples need to regulate conflict well. To do so they need to know how to negotiate the terrain of both resolvable and perpetual problems. Couples have to pay attention to minimize the negative ways of communicating, especially criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. Having these negative communication patterns will eventually erode the relationship and cause emotional disengagement.
3) Goals in Life Come True. Accepting influence and working towards compromise are the building blocks for making a couple’s hopes and aspirations for life come true. A successful partnership continues to find ways to honor both partners’ goals in life and help them come true, even in small ways.
4) Create Shared Meaning. Relationships aren’t just about splitting chores and making love. They can also have a spiritual dimension that has to do with creating an inner life together. There is an intention of creating meaningful rituals and an appreciation for the roles and the goals of the couple. This adds a sense of purpose to the partnership; an understanding of what it means to be part of the couple. The couple can think of this as a mission or legacy statement that they can follow.
5) Commitment and Trust. Commitment means believing (and acting on the belief) that the relationship with your partner is completing your lifelong journey, for better or for worse (meaning that if it get worse you will both work to improve it). It implies cherishing your partner’s positive qualities and nurturing gratitude about what you have with this person. Trust occurs when you know that your partner acts and thinks to maximize your best interest. In other words, this means, “my partner has my back and is there for me.”
For married couples who wish to learn more on relationship and need advice or tips, you can check out these following workshops organized by EMCC:
“…because we said “I do.” – The Gottman Seven Principles Programme
Happy marriages, according to relationship researcher and expert, Dr. John Gottman are created by having FIVE shared positive moments against every negative one. Seems simple? Come learn about creating positive moments and other practical principles in this workshop by EMCC, based on the scientifically researched New York Times bestseller, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman. Couples can expect to leave the workshop with the practical skills necessary for making their relationship work, as well as to be supported on a path towards a harmonious, long-lasting and satisfied relationship.
Couples will learn how to develop their own Love Maps, manage conflicts, understand the power of influence, and create shared meaning as husband and wife.
Bringing Baby Home
This research-based workshop developed by renowned relationship experts Drs. John and Julie Gottman, prepares couples for the most important and rewarding job they will ever have: raising the next generation. Couples learn how to strengthen their relationship, create a healthy social, emotional and intellectual environment for their baby and be the best parenting team possible!