Work, children, health and money worries can crowd into any relationship, sometimes making it hard to remember just what made you gel in the early days.
Now the team at Relationships Scotland - Couple Counselling Fife has produced a helpful guide to not only keep your relationship on track, but to talk the language of love in everyday life.
It’s the little things
Life isn’t a fairy tale, and expectations of romantic gestures and grand declarations all year round are unrealisitic – but love can take many forms. Appreciate the small moments – like a spontaneous cuppa appearing at your bedside or stepping up to take on a chore you hate – and acknowledge them for what they are.
These simple moments help form a relationship, and doing them for your loved one, or noticing when he or she does them for you, will cement your partnership.
Top tip: A random act of kindness isn’t reserved for strangers … make a point of building little gestures into your daily life, and it will soon become your natural default.
Make time to be a couple
Busy at work or caught up in looking after young children or elderly dependents? There’s sometimes very little time or money left to be a couple, but it’s really important to rekindle that togetherness.
Take time out for a walk along the esplanade at Kirkcaldy, pop for a seaside cuppa at a café in Burntisland, explore in the Lomond Hills or go browsing round the hidden gems of the East Neuk together.
Top tip: If childcare is an issue you will likely find friends are in the same boat. Plan childcare swaps, giving each couple time away from the kids together.
Take time to talk
Many couples who come for counselling have lost the art of conversation beyond the life admin of running a house and family. Don’t be daunted by chat – it’s not just reserved for the crisis moments in life! Whether you want to debate world events, last night’s telly or your hopes and fears for the future, find time to properly talk, and to listen.
Top tip: Ask open questions which need answers – instead of “Did you like Line of Duty on the TV?”, which invites a yes/no answer, try things like “Who was your favourite character in season six and why?”, or “Who is most like H in your office?”. Before you know it, you’ll be sharing opinions and time together.
Spend time apart on your own hobbies
Sounds counter intuitive, but you won’t get everything from one relationship, and expecting a partner to fulfil every need you have will likely leave you feeling let down.
Well-rounded contentment comes from many places; a balanced life is made up of many layers, and a healthy relationship has room for them all. Make sure you both have time apart doing something positive you love. Not only will it give each individual pleasure, you’ll also bring that buzz back home with you – hearing who you met, what you did, what you’ve learned etc will enrich your time together.
Top tip: It’s all about an equal balance. Spending time on hobbies only works if you both get to have equal time doing what you love, and it doesn’t eat into every day off, leaving you with no time together.
Insta life v real life
Other people’s relationships often look glossy and glamorous on social media, but comparison is the thief of joy. Behind every perfectly posed selfie could be a mountain of ironing and a bickering background. Insta life rarely matches anyone’s reality, so don’t try to keep up with the digital Joneses.
Unfollow or unfriend pages or people which don’t make you smile, and don’t be sucked in to an envious obsession of other couples.
Top tip: Are you guilty of sitting at opposite ends of the couch on you phones all evening? Give yourself a digital detox; step away from social channels and remember the positives in your own relationship, rather than comparing your life to the very carefully edited version other people choose to share online.
You don’t need to be in crisis to benefit from counselling. Relationships Scotland - Couple Counselling Fife runs sessions to help couples work on their relationship to make it stronger.
You can access help via their website, or call in confidence on 01592 597 444.