The Seven Cs are useful guidelines in creating and maintaining a healthy friendship and relationship with your partner.
Without true commitment, individuals cannot trust in one another's motives when the challenges arise or the disagreements occur. For example, sometimes a partner needs to have time alone, or "cave time", in order to sort through their thoughts and feelings, or they seem to need to distance themselves. The other partner can misinterpret this behaviour as unloving and question whether there is true commitment to the relationship.
If there is no doubt about the commitment, the response will not be a negative or suspicious one. A healthy approach in a truly committed relationship is to simply ask your partner about their commitment if you are in doubt. Clarity and honesty about the commitment of both partners in a healthy relationship is what builds and keeps the "bridge of trust" in place.
Being able to communicate effectively with a partner about your thoughts, feelings and needs is important in a healthy relationship. Many people express frustration when they feel that their partner expects them to be able to read their mind and know what they want. Keeping the communication two-way is also necessary especially in the midst of disagreements. When the heat of an issue is escalating, the healthy response would be to allow time and space before revisiting the issue.
Communicate to your partner that you do want a resolution but you need time to sleep on it and to think about it. Let your partner know that you will come back to the discussion the next day or perhaps at the weekend. Try never to go to bed angry and don't use silence as a way to punish your partner.
It is important for partners to feel a sense of connection. This can be expressed in a variety of ways. Perhaps a phone call during the day, an email, an SMS - simple ways in which you can feel and stay connected. Some couples, of course, have busy schedules, but they can find ways to feel a special connection even at the end of the day with rituals and routines that are meaningful for them both.
Couples can take morning or evening walks together, share a hobby, travel to favourite places, or read the same book and discuss its ideas. Making daily deposits into the Love Bank of partnership will accrue "interest" to last a lifetime.
Nothing can destroy the "bridge of trust" more completely than a partner who makes important decisions without consulting their other half. Knowing you are part of a team, a decision making partnership, is absolutely important in maintaining a healthy relationship. Feeling a sense of equality, and that your thoughts and opinions matter to your partner, deepens the trust and mutual respect between you both. Of course, what you order for a meal while dining out, or the colour of the clothing you wear, should not require consultation with a partner unless you are inviting their opinion for some purpose. But the larger decisions, especially those to do with finances, are important opportunities for consultation. Finding the right balance comes from a commitment to do so.
In healthy relationships, partners who are not fearful when it comes to sharing their innermost thoughts, feelings and needs, will find the courage to address the bigger challenges. Sometimes honesty is what is needed - with yourself and with your partner - before an issue can be resolved. If you encourage and support one another to be courageous when it's needed, there will be fewer lies or half truths in your relationship. Also, without courage to pursue the dreams and visions you may share, you won't take risks and your dreams and visions may not be realised. Knowing when to be truthful and honest with one another takes not only courage, but also a sense of divine timing, and patience.
Every relationship that is healthy and successful will have at its core the qualities of compassion, empathy and kindness. All relationships move through cycles of balance and challenge, and how we navigate these cycles with our partner must include our capacity to show compassion for the ways in which these cycles impact us in our day-to-day lives. Sometimes, partners can be unloving to one another, and the ability to remain in a place that allows us to understand that the hurtful behaviour of our partner is more about them than it is about us is vital.
While we do not have to condone unloving behaviour, it is always helpful to reach for the empathy to understand what has motivated their behaviour. If we can approach things from that higher perspective, and forgive whatever needs forgiving, then again the "bridge of trust" is strengthened and the relationship has a better chance of being long-lasting.
There have been countless studies about how children who are not held and touched as infants have emotional and social problems later in life. Partners also need to express love towards one another that is not necessarily sexual in nature. Besides touching one another in appropriate and loving ways, whether it is simply a morning embrace, holding hands as you walk together, or a daily kiss or two, there are verbal ways to cuddle one another.
Remember to show appreciation to your partner every day for things that they do or say that make you feel a valued part of their life. "Please" and "thank you" go a long way in letting someone know they are loved and valued. How many times have you heard someone express dismay about the way they are feeling being taken for granted by their partner? A gift, a card, some flowers, a cup of tea, a surprise hug and kiss are just some of the simple ways we can "cuddle" our partner.
Make daily investments in the Love Bank of your relationship, and enjoy the magic and the long lasting benefits.
(Gloria conducts Skype and personal Soul Coaching sessions from her Melbourne home and is available at www.heartlight.com.au)
Gloria Grace Wallace is a Melbourne-based life coach