What keeps a relationship going?

When there are two people bringing up children together, the kids take up a lot of time. Some relationships can break under the strain of this and unfortunately around 40% of marriages end up in divorce. Why is that? Do we give up to easy? Have high expectations?

Research shows that lack of communication and having different expectations can eventually lead to separation. 

Couples that prioritise each other tend to have a closer relationship and work things out in a better way. By prioritising each other I mean spending time together without kids on a regular basis, support each others other hobbies, 'allow' each other time out with friends and have a united front with the kids. To undermine each other is immensely demeaning and to not feel appreciated slowly but surely works away inside.  A main reason partners give up is not being heard and feeling ignored. Lack of sex is another one.

Here are some useful tips, see how many you can tick off!

1. Show that you appreciate them.

When you've been married for many years, routine can become a slow relationship killer. A little bit of attention when a partner comes home can work wonders. Studies show that nearly half of partners that have cheated, say it was because of emotional dissatisfaction - and not sex. When we don't feel connected or appreciated, we become vulnerable to the advances of others who pay attention and are complimentary. 

In his film "Annie Hall," Woody Allen states that "a relationship is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies." I believe he was right.

2. Say thank you for the little things.

Keeping track of the positive things a partner does and thank them for them for it will show that you notice what they do and that you are grateful. We all need to be noticed and appreciated!

3. Be honest and communicate.

If you are feeling neglected and need to be seen, say so before it gets too much. We assume our partners should see and understand but that doesn't always happen. Share worries what ever they are, financial, self confidence, appearance, friends and of course, the children.  

4. Foster relationships outside your marriage.

My girls' trips are an important part of the marriage. As are my husbands biking or rugby trips. These weekends away with friends are important to be a better wife, husband and parent. Spending time with others and enjoying new experiences makes us more interesting to be around. 

There is plenty of room for other relationships in your marriage, and I don't mean romantic or sexual ones...

5. Don't sweat the small stuff. Or deal with it straight away!

There are big things and there are little things. The big things - addiction, illness and unemployment have a massive impact on a relationship but most of us don't have problems of that magnitude. Most of us have problems that are more like petty and repeated annoyances, which then grow into massive issues that effect how we are with each other.

Pay attention to the small things and address them before they explode! It's the unsaid resentments that will eventually do a relationship harm.

6. Let it go. Yes really.

Sometimes the best way to address a problem is to just walk away from it - as in seriously let it go. Chose your battles wisely, sometimes things are said that shouldn't have but know it's not always intended. Let it pass. Forgive and forget more. Remember why you married this person in the first place and the reasons behind it. They are most probably there, just hidden at times. What is really going on in their life right now and what do they need from you?

To really let something go requires also letting go in your head, if they stay there, they will come out in on way or another. LET IT GO!

7. Recognise the ups and downs.

One thing I am told quite often by a client is 'I just want to be happy'. Happy is not a constant, it's an emotion that comes and goes. Sometimes we love our partners to bits and the next week we can move out. By recognising this and allow the downs to come and then go, we can be safe in the knowledge that this is normal. The trick is knowing that you won't stay in either place forever. Most marriages are spent in an emotional middle ground. It's that place where you know what your partner is about to answer and says a comment that you were just about to say. Knowing someone pretty much inside out and feel safe. There will always be struggles but facing them together makes you stronger. Remember that!

8. Be kind.

Tendencies are that when we are in a bad mood, our partner soon knows about it. We have to let it out somewhere, right?! Yes we do, but not at home... There are lots of ways to off load stress and moods. Our partners deserve our love and kindness. What can I do today that will make my partner happy? Watch that rom com she loves but you hate? Go to the car show that he loves and you hate? By doing things for our partners we show them our love. They feel special and appreciated. It's like filling up a cash machine with notes; sometimes we need a large withdrawal and if it's already low there will be a problem. Keep it full as much as you can!! 

Be intimate in every way possible, it's not all about sex. Intimacy is about showing care and consideration, tell them you love them, give compliments and surprise with gifts every now and then. Touching, hugging and holding counts just as much. Look after each other!!