Every couple goes through bumps in their relationship. So what’s the secret of those happy couples you see kissing and cuddling their way through life? It’s not that difficult. Relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr reveals the easy, everyday things you can do to be happy in your relationship.
‘I really believe that happy couples are made up of people who are happy in themselves’ says Dr Pam. ‘So let’s start with that all-important you. To be a happy couple, think about how these three things in yourself might affect your relationship:’
1.Identify your ‘script’
All of us live by a life-long ‘script’. This is like a film script, where we each play a particular ‘role’ in relating to others. We don’t even realise we’re doing it.
Your ‘role’ begins when you were a child and your family came to expect certain things of you and your personality. For example, if you’re the first child, your parents have many hopes for you and expect you to behave a certain way – like being responsible and acting grown-up.
Or maybe you’re the youngest and when speaking about you, family members call you ‘the little one’ or ‘the baby’. All the expectations that go with being the baby – like needing loads of attention – are heaped on you.
We carry our roles into our romantic relationships – as the baby you always demand attention from your partner. Or as the first-born you expect to be listened to.
Think how this might apply to your relationship. Could the role you always play – like being the baby – be damaging it? Armed with this knowledge you can break free of any damaging things in the role you play.
2.Identify your fallback position
Next identify what is your ‘fallback position’ in relationships. This is when you always react the same way in certain situations. Like when you’re angry, you always go off in a huff. You simply can’t stay put and face your differences with your partner.
Or when you feel neglected, you always create a drama to get attention. Your fallback position can be very damaging because you do it automatically and never think about the consequences. Try identifying when you do this and fight the urge to use this fallback position. Don’t react in the same, damaging way when faced with the hurdles that every couple faces.
3.Identify your rose-coloured expectations
One of the most common problems people have in their love-life is overly high expectations. Yes, of course you want him to be romantic, but do you really expect him to send you flirty, loving texts every day? Or always surprise you with little gifts or flowers? And even to remember the anniversary of the first time you kissed?!
Always expect to be treated well, but don’t ruin your relationship because he can’t give you some Hollywood-style, romantic dream.
4.Be spontaneous – Spontaneity’s really important to keeping your romance alive. It might feel like a tall order when you’re part of a busy couple, but the little trick is to actually plan the spontaneity. Go through your diary and markdown some dates when you do something “spontaneous” – like surprising him with a picnic lunch at his office.
5.Little loving touches – You can lay the table, sit down to dinner and barely speak. Or, you can put on soft music, light candles, and tell him how much you’ve been thinking of him during the day. Make a point of doing such loving gestures regularly.
6.Change is good – We easily become set in our ways and that can become dull and bad for romance. Surprise your partner by getting a new look, booking a new restaurant or suggesting a walk in a beauty spot you’ve never visited. Little bits of change can put some zip back.
7.Do the unexpected – Offer to do something they’d least expect, like sensually washing their hair. Run a candlelit bath, ask them to lie back, and then gently wash it.
8.Initiate sex – Lots of women still think that men should do the initiating when it comes to sex. Nothing could be further from the truth and men confide in me that they love it when their partner turns on the flirting. Cuddle up and start hinting about how attractive he looks that night, run your fingers through his hair or down his thighs – he’ll get the message.
9.Be a bit daring – Ring him during the day and tell him you’ve just been having a hot fantasy about him. Describe it in lots of sexy detail. Need some inspiration? Tell him you were lying on a beach and he was a handsome stranger who came up and offered to rub suntan oil into your warm body. Take it from there.
10.Celebrate your love – Do something symbolic that celebrates your love. For instance, put together a scrapbook of photos from your holidays, or buy your partner’s favourite plant and keep it on your dining table. And keep a mix of your favourite love songs in your music system. These little touches keep the love going.
11.Don’t compete – You’re both busy and it’s easy to fall into the trap of one-upmanship where you bicker along the lines of, “but I’ve done more than you today,” and, “No you haven’t, my schedule was packed!” Turn off this automatic response and show him loads of appreciation for how hard he works or the things he does around your home. The more you show your appreciation – the more he’ll show his back.