30 Nov 5 Steps to Creating a Healthy Relationship Culture

“We’ve just grown apart” is one of the most frequent comments that I hear from couples in distress. These couples want to know how and why they lost the connection they once shared. And they want it back.

couple in love photoYour relationship may be feeling a little shaky right now. Or it may be totally great… and you want to make sure that you both keep it that way.

We all know that different countries have their own different and unique cultures. Think of your relationship as having its own unique culture too.

What are the unique routeins, rituals and habits that define the way you both live and love?

You can’t connect if you are living in a relationship culture that keeps you disconnected.

5 steps to creating a healthy relationship culture start here:

1. Greet and farewell each other in loving ways:

When you’re leaving for somewhere, make the effort to say “Goodbye”. Whenever possible, say it face to face. Say “I love you”, or “Have a great day”, or something that shows you care. Add a little kiss or a big hug.

When you return, do the same thing, with a greeting that basically says “Our relationship is important to me, so I’m making the effort to reconnect with you properly”.

Healthy “hello” and “goodbye” rituals take only a couple of minutes, but have  a huge impact on keeping relationships healthy and connected.

2. Share meals together:

When you’re both home together, eat together. Prepare your table or favourite place. Light a candle. Listen to music. Watch the stars. Or just watch TV. But do it together.

The practice of sharing food is a common thread between cultures all across the globe. Make it a daily ritual in your own relationship culture too.

3. Be intimate together:

Touch each other, and not just when you want sex. Place an affectionate hand on your partner’s shoulder. Plant a peck on your partner’s cheek. Embrace just for the fun of it. Rumble, tickle, laugh. Share stories and secrets. Cuddle, spoon, make love, or just hold hands in bed.

It doesn’t matter if you are a touchy-feely couple or not. Being intimate can happen in many different ways. Know how you express intimacy in your own relationship and make opportunities for it every day.

4. Create digital free time together:

Turn. Off. Your. Phones! Laptops! Devices!

The digital era has vastly changed relationship culture, in good ways and in bad. It’s ridiculous how many couples resent each other’s use of digital devices. They are intrusive, distracting, and potentially toxic to healthy and happy relationships.

Turn off your devices, even just for an hour. Create digital free zones at home, the bedroom being a great place to start. It’s up to you to create solutions that will protect your relationship from unwanted distractions.

5. Repair after conflict:

Conflict is normal and inevitable in all relationships. When working with distressed couples I frequently see that it’s often not the problems themselves, but but the way partners handle it, that is crucial to creating a healthy relationship culture.

Say sorry, when an apology is deserved. Forgive, when forgiveness is needed. Be ready, willing, and able to let go of resentment. Healthy relationship repair happens when both partners can apologise, forgive, and let go, and do so with generous words or gestures of love that affirm why your relationship matters.

You are both actively involved in creating your own unique relationship culture everyday. If you want a relationship that stays happy – really happy, and that lasts, you need to be mindful of the relationship culture that you are both creating.

I know you’re busy, stressed, distracted, cranky at times, and maybe a little oblivious to what your relationship means to you and why it’s so precious.

These 5 steps are just a start… now it’s over to you.

Pamela Pannifex is a psychotherapist, marriage therapist, naturopath and founder of Sunshine Holistic Counselling on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. For over 20 years she has been helping people create personal wellbeing and relationships that thrive. Contact Pamela here.