The once great bond you shared, the closeness you once felt, is fading, or just isn’t there anymore. The iceberg of our busy lives has struck our relationship and it is about to go under, leaving us a stark choice: abandon it, or make urgent repairs to keep it afloat. Better still, revitalise it and make it better than it was before.
Many a relationship can be salvaged, some that even seem lost. The key is to re-establish the closeness. Here are six ways you can regenerate damaged relationships to give them resilience, depth, strength, and substance. Then they can thrive regardless of life’s hits!
1. Make Time
It is hard to feel close to someone if we don’t feel valued or important to them. We feel most valued when others make time for us and make us the priority. Yes, we have to work to pay the bills but is the larger mortgage for the bigger house in the better street really more important than a close friendship with our partner? Make regular one-on-one time to be alone together. Try regular weekly dates – as a minimum. Make your time together precious, and a top priority even – and especially – if you are parents. Get a regular baby sitter – paid or a relative – to make it happen.
2. Talk and Listen
We can’t feel close to someone we don’t talk and listen to. This works best face-to-face; not using texting, not on the phone, and not by emails, though these can get us by in short bursts. We feel closest by being physically next to each other so we can read each other’s body language; how we move, smile, frown, or react. We all like others to hear and appreciate our story; to validate our experience and ‘get’ where we are coming from.
3. Share Commonality
Focus on someone’s differences and we make them a potential threat, or enemy. Only look to see what we have in common and we make each other friends. The more we can share what we have in common the closer the friendship – and hence relationship – can be. This doesn’t mean we have to like all the same things, just focus on sharing what we do both like and agree on. Agree you like long walks, the chocolate cake, the movie, the funny show on TV, if you know your partner does. The more you focus on and share – lots of sharing – what you have in common, and ignore what you don’t, the better.
4. Make Fun Time
We are going to want to be with the person who we feel good being around. Having fun together feels great and makes us want to be around each other more, and be closer. Don’t neglect this opportunity to bond intimately. Every week set aside time to do something fun together. It could be games in the bedroom, or splashing each other on the beach. Make sure it happens – ensure it’s a promise you keep.
5. Share Secrets/ Build Trust
Sharing secrets means you are working as a team to keep something between you that no one else will ever know. How important, trusted, and special must we be if someone is prepared to share their most trusted secrets? The deeper the secret and the more secrets you share the closer you can become. Sharing secrets can make us feel vulnerable and place our heart in someone else’s hands. If they validate this trust by never betraying it then we can share ‘anything’ with each other and further increase our close bond.
6. Respect, Notice, and Support
We are closest with people who neither try to dominate us nor act like our inferior; those we respect. We can notice someone with a touch, or just say hi if they are in the room. Never give the ‘silent’ treatment or ignore them – ever! We seek to be with those who support our dreams and ambitions.
Want to create, and maintain, a satisfying, resilient, relationship? Work to be and stay close friends.
Dr Winfried Sedhoff is a family physician specialising in mental health with over 25 years of clinical experience. His new book, The Fall and Rise of Women, How women can change the world, is now available. Visit winfriedsedhoff.com for more information.