Let the Good Times Roll

Hilary Smith

Hilary Smith is a writer with Relationships Aotearoa and an experienced counsellor. www.relationshipsaotearoa.org.nz

Handling difference constructively is a great skill for partners to develop. Respecting and enjoying each other when you're not at odds can be even more important.

Wonderful West Wittering - June 2011 - Happy Couple 1

After all, what are you having the relationship for?  You may need to struggle through some hard, hurtful and boring bits. You might learn and grow through doing this, but generally it's the feel-good things that make relationships attractive.

It's things like feeling connected, like knowing that you count, that someone finds you special, that you can feel and inspire passion. What ever it is you want in a relationship, it's about adding something positive to your life.

So is that where you put your energy in your relationship? Do you spend your time actually having the relationship you want, or do you dwell on the points of disagreement?

You don't have to get on all the time. There will be strains and tensions in every relationship. There are any number of self-help books and communication courses that can help you to differ without damaging each other.

However skilled you are at disagreeing in a constructive way, it's the cumulative effect of small moments of warmth, of fun, of kindness and affection that really makes your relationship. If you never get round to having good times, how much point is there in sticking it out when the going gets tough?

It's really easy to wait until there's a problem to fix before paying some attention to your relationship. It's also easy to let generous attention to each other become something you only do on holidays. As if you don't have time to do your relationship because you're thinking it has to be a big production.

On the contrary, small and doable is good. Right now is even better. There are dozens of opportunities daily to do warm, companionable, loving things.

Conversations about the most ordinary things can still express your friendliness and your interest in each other.

Know and care what is happening in each other's lives. Know who your partner's friends are, what bugs them at work, and what they'd love to be if they could.

Ask about these things. You don't have to have a marathon discussion. Chat while you eat breakfast, or do the dishes. Email or phone your partner to check in.

When you make connections with each other, even little ones, you both feel noticed and cared for. Your moments of warmth, your shared jokes, your encouragement of each other, all these connections reflect the reasons you got into the relationship in the first place.

Remind each other of the good times in your past as well. The more you are aware of the good times, the less fights matter. Not because the issues are unimportant, but because your differences don't outweigh your connections.

Your relationship is not a dress rehearsal. It's happening now. So enjoy the show. No need to worry too much about mistakes, when you're together you can help each other out when you forget your lines.

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