24 Nov Time, Trust, Talk, and Touch by Elana Clark-Faler, LCSW, CST, CSAT-S
I believe to have a successful loving relationship with a significant other (long-term), you must practice these four principals…Time, Touch, Trust and Effective Talk. I’ve been in a 25 year relationship and we practice these tools. Many couples allow these areas of their relationship to deteriorate. Maybe you haven’t had good models of a healthy relationship. Maybe you struggle with trusting anyone. Maybe you struggle with allowing others to get close to you. Whatever it is, it’s important to address any barrier that keeps you from making time, developing trust, increasing effective talk, or barriers that keep you from connected touch with your partner. Easier said than done. You also have to have a willing partner who sees these issues as equally important for a healthy relationship.
How do you make time for your partner? I think it’s important to develop and have a schedule. You can keep your schedule digitally or written. It’s important to have a schedule that demonstrates self-care first, partner/friends/family second, and work obligations third. Many of you have it backwards. We make work first, friends/family/partner second and ourselves last. You’re not able to give if you’re depleted. That’s why you and partner must have self-care first in your schedules, so there’s a lot more to give the relationship. It’s important that partners share their calendars and coordinate their schedules. It’s important to know where your partner is and how to coordinate the daily/weekly activities. Making time to go on dates, scheduling time for touch and making travel plans are essential. It’s important to schedule your life the way you want it to unfold versus allowing the schedule to rule you.
Effective Talk is our next skill for a healthy long-term relationship. It’s important to be kind with your words and be respectful to your partner. Just because this person has agreed to be in your life, doesn’t mean you have a license to be abusive with your words. Many individuals have grown up in homes where their parents weren’t kind with their words. It’s important to no longer repeat the cycle. Here are a couple useful skills to practice:
“I” Statements, examples, “I feel sad when you call me a slug.” “I feel hurt when you cut me off.” “I remember when my mother cut me off, I didn’t like it.”
Share vulnerable feelings.
Be kind with your words…remember, this is your love.
Never assume, be curious, ask.
Listen and try to understand your partner. Don’t take it personally.
Take a time-out when needed, but inform your partner you need a time-out and you will return to discuss.
Agree to disagree. No one has to be right.
Don’t discount your partner’s reality.
Don’t try to control or one-up your partner. Stay on equal footing.
These are just a few skills to practice for effective Talk.
Touch is very important in a relationship. No one likes to talk about the importance of touch. It’s important to make time to touch and connect physically with your partner. Sometimes there are issues that come up in the relationship to cause partners to grow physically apart for whatever reason. It’s important to address these issues in order to connect with each other. I would recommend seeing a certified sex therapist if you and your partner are growing further apart sexually. A side note…If you feel forced by your partner, please seek out counseling. It’s important not to force your partner to be sexual.
Trust is an important element in a healthy relationship. It’s important you stay impeccable with your word. If you say you are where you are, you better be there. Don’t lie. If you lie, omit or keep secrets it will erode the relationship. A relationship is built on trust. If you violate trust, it takes a very long time to rebuild and heal the damage. Often, an individual will break trust because he or she is struggling with communicating needs. He or she can begin building a secret life or allow lies to snowball into more lies. Keeping secrets causes many individuals to feel shame and guilt. I really believe what lingers in the dark will eventually come to the light. If you need help with telling the truth in a contained manner, seek out counseling to assist with disclosing the truth. You don’t have to do it alone. You might lose your partner, there’s always a possibility. But, many times individuals stay together after major lies and secrets have been exposed. These two individuals can learn to rebuild trust, and heal.
I hope that this little blog was helpful. You can start today with improving your relationship. Make time for her/him by scheduling and coordinating schedules. Increase loving, welcoming touch with your partner. Increase trust by being transparent and honest with your partner. Be impeccable with your word. Do what you say you’ll do. Practice being kinder with your words. Give compliments and share how much you love this person. Say to yourself, “If this was the last time I saw my love, how do I want this last interaction to be?” Was I loving? Did I show this person I cared for him/her?