3 Pillars of Relationships
by Robin McGrath
If any part of a building's foundation is unstable, the building will begin to collapse. This same holds true for relationships. If pillars of the relationship begin to deteriorate the relationship will begin to crumble.
Three pillars of a strong, intimate, romantic relationship include:
3. Sexual closeness
Definitions of the word "communication" can range from: conveying (one-way communication) to exchanging (two-way communication) news, information, thoughts, and opinion. In a relationship, exchanging or two-way communication is critical. Both individuals need to feel that they have a voice within the relationship and that their partner not only hears but listens to what is being shared. The catch though, according to Rita Wilson in her article Intimacy and Its 3 Challenging Dangers, is that "women like to talk about issues, whereas men will often do anything to avoid" it.
Furthermore, men are programmed to problem solve when their partners share issues with them. But sometimes, all a man's partner needs is to be heard and validated. Pure listening is not easy but can be achieved with a little effort by following these simple steps:
* Be curious and don't overshadow the conversation by sharing a similar story of your own.
* Don't always be right. Every person has his or her own reality.
* Don't be defensive. It immediately interferes with listening.
* Breathe/relax. This helps eliminate defensiveness which resides in our bodies and is visible through our body language. Even though you might not think you're on the defense, your body could be betraying you.
* Have two conversations. In this one you won't interrupt, argue or make your case. In the next one you will. This conversation is for your partner to share.
* Be interested. Ask questions. Show that you care about understanding what is being shared with you.
* Ask for the conversation even though it's one you may not want to have. Be proactive and show that you really care about what is on your partner's mind.
* Don't use insults. Personal attacks like these don't deal with the situation. They only infect your mutual respect for each other.
Mutual respect between partners is important to a relationship, according to Dr. Phillip McGraw, "we either contribute to or contaminate our relationships". Insults, bashing sessions while out with friends, along with lack of courtesy and lack of support all demonstrate a waning level of respect for your partner. These are like viruses to a relationship, slowly spreading to contaminate and deteriorate the foundation.
During arguments and fights, couples need to learn to keep insults out. They are personal attacks on the other individual and don't contribute to resolving the issue. Bashing sessions while out with friends act the same way. Sometimes, venting to friends about issues is helpful because good friends can offer support. But when these venting sessions deteriorate into bashing sessions they can become damaging and contribute to the anger or frustration the partner feels about what they were initially venting about instead of helping to relieve or decrease those feelings.
With all the demands that life throws at us every day, couples can find that the number of times they have sex in a week becomes the number of times they have sex in a month and decrease even further to the number of times they have sex in a year. And it happens quite easily. Work, kids and chores are just some of the things that can get in the way, and that doesn't even include: "not tonight, I'm tired" or "not tonight, I have a headache".
A healthy sexual relationship is one that fulfills the sexual needs of both partners. Without it some partners can feel a loss of intimacy and connectedness. And yet other partners may need to feel a sense of intimacy and connectedness in order to want to have sex. The key is to finding a way to keep it an active part of the relationship. If a couple feels like its sex life is dwindling, there are always things they can do to fix it, such as:
* Communicate, communicate, communicate. With each other. Talk about whether they feel their needs are being met or not. Talk about whether what they want to experience together is happening. They aren't easy conversations but they are necessary and can even contribute to a better sex life.
* Make sure each partner's language of love is understood. If he takes out the garbage, he might think he's saying "I love you" but all she might think he's saying is "let me help."
* Schedule time for sex the same way you would schedule an important appointment that you wouldn't want to miss. And keep it.
* Negotiate a plan that works for both partners if their levels of sex drive are not the same.
These three pillars of a relationship help to keep the house of love standing strong. If any of them begins to deteriorate, that house has the potential to collapse like a house of cards. Good, fulfilling, strong relationships take constant work but the effort is always worth the payoff, just like maintaining a house can keep a solid roof over your head for years to come.