It seems divorce is everywhere – online, on shop shelves stocking magazine covers announcing the split of various pop stars, footballers and politicians and, sadly, in our own lives: our good friends, our own parents and even ourselves.
The likelihood is that most of these relationships started out blissfully happy – so what exactly went wrong? And more to the point, how do you stop this happening to you?
Counsellor Dr Susan Orenstein from the U.S has witnessed first hand how seemingly happy relationships fall apart, and she’s also helped many couples piece the parts back together again. Here are some of her tips for forging a long and happy relationship:
1. Little efforts add up
See your marriage as an investment. Like exercise, it’s the small things you put in that produce results. Health experts say if you’re strapped for time and can’t spare a full hour for the gym every day, you should get up and moving as often as possible – a few minutes here and there throughout the day. Relationship experts say the same about marriage. You might not be able to afford to go away on romantic breaks every weekend, but you can show small daily efforts that really add up.
Dr Orenstein uses the example of a phone call. If your partner calls to ask if you need anything from the shop, why not take a few minutes to ask how their day was? Although it may seem like a small thing, it will let them know you care. All too often we get caught up in the routine of daily life and forget to stop and consider each other’s feelings.
2. Never underestimate the destructive power of Facebook
Having counselled hundreds of unhappy couples, Dr Orenstein knows the danger of social networking sites like Facebook. Facebook gives us a new kind of freedom – the freedom to look up exes and to flirt with attractive strangers without the guilt you might face in ‘real life’.
Sharing too much online is another problem. Some people reveal more in their statuses and tweets than they do even to their partners, indicating communication and trust problems.
Another common clash between marriage and the Internet is unrealistic ideals. The Internet allows us to romanticise things – an old lover may seem wonderful and exciting on their profile page, but are you sure it’s not just a case of ‘the grass is greener’? Facebook can prematurely accelerate a relationship’s natural course and spawn infatuation that isn’t realistic at all. You have to think – is this really worth a marriage break-up?
3. Be like the family dog
This might sound like a strange one – but think about how the family dog reacts when its owners get home. There’s so much excitement and adoration there, making you feel wanted and loved. When your partner gets home, give them the same treatment (with a little less drool) – show them you’re happy they’re home with a hug, or even just a warm smile. This will foster intimacy over time and it hardly takes a moment out of your day, even if you’re feeling blue.
If your marriage is on the rocks, why not give it some healing treatment with a life coach? Life coaching could help you identify the cracks and find ways to patch them up. Chances are the reasons you fell in love with your partner in the first place are still there, you simply need to find ways to continue renewing them as the years go by.
To find out more, please visit our Relationship page.
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