Happy holidays require joyful relationships. This festive season give a gift of joy in your relationships.
In my marketing I refer to myself as ‘The Relationship Architect’ because I help individuals and couples create stable foundations and secure relationships. Essentially, as a relationship coach I understand how change happens within the dynamics and context of relationship. My clients’ success is the evidence that supports the fact that we can all be relationship architects, when we know what we need to do and then do it. It only takes one person in the system to be doing something different, something positive, to turn strife into a steadfast relationship.
Thing is, fulfilling and mutually enjoyable relationships don’t just happen. They are a choice. A good relationship is the reward we get for being a quality friend/wife/family member. It is a consequence achieved by investing effort and energy into another person. This festive season, increase the joy in your life by increasing the joy in your most important relationship.
10 tips for boosting the joy:
- Communicate in their love language: Gary Chapman’s book ‘5 Love Languages’ tells us how we each have a unique way of expressing love i.e. Acts of service, physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time and receiving gifts. Find out what their love language is and love them in the way they ‘hear’ it. It’s not what we say or do that is important but how we make people feel.
- Spend quality time alone: It is not the responsibility of any relationship to make us happy. No one else can make us feel fulfilled; it is up to each of us to create a life we enjoy. Cape Town counselling psychologist, Lesley Chorn says, “Space in a relationship allows it to breathe and keeps it alive. Take time to connect with yourself in a quality way. Keeping your own individual life alive and growing allows the relationship to keep growing too”.
- Be accountable: The way we behave in a relationship is either going to be a barrier or an enabler of intimacy. A barrier is a ‘problem pattern’ of behaviour that disconnects us from our partner. An enabler is a ‘solution pattern’ that connects us. Be accountable for what you might be doing that contributes to a barrier. Take responsibility for what can you start or stop doing toward creating a climate of love.
- Introduce the element of surprise: Cape Town based Relationship Counsellor, Executive Coach and Researcher Mary Ovenstone says “At the beginning of a relationship, when everything is still new including the initial sexual experiences, the brain generates surges of dopamine–the hormone responsible for that exciting ‘high’ feeling we associate with being in love. After the newness wears off in a relationship, we can still recapture those dopamine ‘high’s’ by purposely doing things that are novel, arousing or out-of-the-ordinary. It doesn’t take much; even spontaneous sex or a weekend away can change things enough to generate a different level of excitement in the brain.”
- Be the change you would like to see: Gandhi said “Be the change you would like to see in the world”. Take a leaf from his book and ‘be the change you would like to see in the relationship’. Want more love? Be more loving. Want more kindness? Be more kind. Want more gentleness? You get the idea.
- Turn your complaints into requests: David Steele, founder of The Relationship Coaching Institute says complaining about what we don’t like is likely to induce a defensive response. Making a request gives the listener a choice to be co-operative. E.g. instead of moaning “You are always late for dinner”, make a request: “I would really love for you find a way to join us at mealtimes at least once a week”. Steele says, “Focus on what you want to happen (instead of what is wrong or not happening) and negotiate a win-win outcome”.
- Have a nice conflict: Conflict is a normal and healthy part of any relationship. It’s not what we fight about but how we fight that determines whether a disagreement brings us closer or pushes us apart. Fight the problem and not the person. Avoid name calling, blaming and shaming. Focus on the issue and hand and the solution, not why problems exist and who is to blame for it.
- Do something playful: Harville Hendrix, author of ‘Getting the Love You Want’ says the average amount of time we spend playing and laughing together (as adults) is about 10 minutes a week. When couples have exuberant fun together they identify each other as a source of pleasure and safety, which intensifies their emotional bond.
- Accept their flaws: Nobody is perfect. None of us. There is no such thing as a perfect partner or person. ‘Active acceptance’ means acknowledging a negative, difficult quality/trait/situation and dealing with it in a constructive way. Acceptance is a tactic of focusing on a person’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.
- Take-over a Christmas chore: There is so much to organize and plan at Christmas time. Take one thing you know is a tedious task and arrange to do it. Relieving someone of one (or a few) things on their ‘to-do-list’ is bound to bring gratitude and joy