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Column: What is the key to a happy relationship?

What do you want from an intimate relationship? Think carefully about your answer.

Tony Moore

WE ARE CREATED to be in a loving relationship. Yet achieving and maintaining a happy and loving relationship appears to be almost as easy as finding Atlantis or Shangri-La. When we think we have found it, we lose it.

So, are there any things we can do to maintain and enhance our relationship? Strange as it may seem, we must first examine ourselves.

What do you want from an intimate relationship? Think carefully about your answer, because the person you meet and start a relationship with may have a very different idea about what he/she may want from a loving relationship.

Are there some general guidelines that most of us can agree on?

First of all we need to be more respectful and courteous. We are respectful and courteous at the start of a new relationship, but unfortunately as time goes by many of us tend to take each other for granted. When that happens we tend to be less mannerly and can be dismissive to our partner. A classic mistake is not saying or ‘forgetting’ to say ‘thank you’. This is where a period of self-reflection is required. What am I not doing or ‘forgetting’ to do? Many people yearn to find a genuinely kind and affectionate partner. If you have found someone please count your blessings. You are luckier than you know.

Spread a little tenderness

The giving and receiving of compliments is of crucial importance. Again at the start of a relationship we tend to shower each other with compliments and gifts, and we are so attentive. We need, yes need, compliments to help us feel secure in the relationship, and to also help us feel secure in our own skin. Many of us, if not all of us, are troubled with insecurities of one kind or another. We hope that our partner, of all people, would offer us some emotional support, and a compliment or two in times when our confidence is rock bottom. None of this costs money but is worth a fortune.

There is a tendency to accuse someone who needs the odd compliment or two as ‘needy’. Well, maybe they are a little. But that so-called neediness can mask an underlying fear either about the relationship or their self-esteem.

Being attentive and supportive isn’t necessarily about running around and fussing over someone all the time to prove your love. Sometimes it is just ‘being there’. When we are ill what we value most is to have someone ‘there’. Think about how important to a child is having its parent or parents ‘there’, to be a presence in the room. The parent may just sit in the room, but for the few minutes when the child wakes, and puts out its hand or calls, and we respond, that response means everything. We are connected and close once again. We all need someone to be ‘there’. We don’t have to say anything. A gentle smile and touch will suffice.

None of us are perfect

The support we offer is, or should be, an unconditional act of kindness. Why are we in a relationship if we don’t want to show or demonstrate our affection? None of us are perfect. We will get things wrong, if not all of the time then some of the time.

We must be prepared to forgive and especially not to hold onto resentments. Our ability to forgive is limitless. Doing something to demonstrate our forgiveness is an especially good thing to do. This is where the small intimate gesture will mean so much. We need to let our partner know that they are valued and treasured.

We also need to remind ourselves that to love and be loved gives our life true meaning.

Tony Moore is a counsellor for Relationships Ireland. Relationships Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that offers confidential relationship counselling services based on ability to pay and is running a ‘Seven Steps’ social media campaign for happy relationships ahead of Valentine’s Day. Keep an eye on www.relationshipsireland.com or https://www.facebook.com/relationshipsie for daily updates.

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About the author:

Tony Moore

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