Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP
Everyone needs a little relationship advice from time to time. Many of us know what to do to fix our relationship or improve our marriage but we just can’t seem to muster the inertia to do so, or it is our partner that is not willing to move themselves in the right direction. Many of us are ready to make changes in our relationship and just need a reminder of what to do or we need a slight nudge.
The simplest and most basic advice about making a relationship successful is that the relationship must be safe for both partners. Your relationship must be the most important human connection that you have. This love bond must be stronger and more secure than any other. Couples or individuals most often come to me for couples therapy or individual therapy when this bond has been violated in some way.
A violation does not have to be an affair. It can simply be consistently not placing your partner in the position of number one. Choosing your mother or your family over your partner, choosing your friends, your work, drinking, gambling, your need to be right, or golfing or tennis consistently over your partner are examples of this violation. Not being available during crises and during successes can also violate or disrupt this bond and create an unsafe relationship. We are all different and perceive the actions of other differently. What may be a violation to one will not be to another.
What is important is that you listen to your partner when they express satisfaction in their relationship. Pay attention to what you do when their eyes light up, when they smile, when they look at you fondly, and when they reach for your hand. These are those special “relationship training moments” teaching you how to love your partner and to make them feel safe. These “relationship training moments” also occur when when we see our partners shift into silence, distance, or anger. Pay attention, apologize, take responsibility, and pull them close to you. If the latter occurs, be available for them when they return. Make it safe for them to return.
When two people are bonded in a healthy relationship they are consistently available to the other’s needs and desires for connection. Consistently available does not mean your availability is perfect every time but that you are available most of the time. A lasting bond is the result of two people choosing each other above all other things every day.
The bottom line for creating a successful relationship is creating a haven of safety where two people are consistently nurtured and are absolutely convinced that the other has their back in every situation. A little relationship advice, if you are not in a relationship where you are willing to make your partner number one, you may not be ready for a mature and healthy relationship. If you consistently see that you are not your partner’s number one, it may also be time to leave.