Relationships / Family
To keep a loving, healthy relationship takes work and time. Too often relationships break down due to many reasons - partners start taking each other for granted, they don't communicate and listen to each other, they allow bad feeling to build up, they don't spend quality time together etc. etc. There are things you can do which will help to keep your relationship healthy and loving and which could avoid the heartache and distress of a relationship breakdown.
How to keep a healthy loving relationship with your partner
Don't take your partner for granted : When we first meet someone and start dating and at the beginning of a serious relationship we don't normally take our partners for granted but too often as relationships develop over time that is exactly what we do. This can lead to our partner feeling unloved, uncared for, used, angry, etc. Every so often we need to take stock and to look at how we are really treating our partner and if we are taking our partner for granted we need to do something about it.
A simple 'thank you' can mean an awful lot to your partner. When your partner has been spending hours tidying up the house if you just come in from work and ignore the fact that your partner has been spending time making the home nice why not say thank you, the house looks great. When your partner cooks you a nice meal it would mean a lot to your partner if you said thank you, I really enjoyed the meal etc. If you normally just get up after a meal and leave your partner to take the dishes out and clear up - try lending a hand - the quicker it is done - the more time you have to spend together. When your partner comes in from work instead of ignoring him/her a simple how did your day go would be a nice thing to say.
When you were first with your partner you may have sometimes come in with flowers, chocolates, some small gift, you may have written little notes and left them around the house saying how much you loved your partner - these kind of gestures can keep a partner feeling cared for, noticed, appreciated - these gestures don't need to stop as the years go by.
Keep telling your partner you love them . Believe it or not some people seriously think their partner does not love them anymore because he/she doesn't say it any more. When we first get together with someone we love we often say to our partner we love him/her - that doesn't have to stop - if you find it difficult to say it verbally - send your partner a little card or letter.
Listen to each other and treat each other with respect . When we first get together we would not normally dream of shouting and hurling abuse at our partner - if we did our partner would probably have run a mile. Why do it now? It isn't a competition to see who can get the last word in and it isn't about scoring points. There is no need for a difference of opinion to degenerate into an abusive slanging match.
If something is causing friction between you discuss it calmly together. Sometimes it helps to get away from the home - maybe go for a walk in the park and talk. Allow your partner to say what they feel without interrupting them - listen in silence and hopefully they will afford you the same respect to listen to you in silence. Then try and put yourself into your partner's shoes and try to see it from their point of view and hopefully they will do the same. Then have a calm discussion - sometimes if you don't agree you have to agree to differ. Your partner has a right to their own opinion and their own views - just as you do - nobody has to be bullied into agreeing with the other person - agree to differ and compromise so you may not have it totally your own way but neither does your partner - try to sort differences out in a fair way for both of you.
If you do feel anger boiling up inside you sometimes it is better to go away and get rid of that anger in a healthy way - go for a walk, go to the gym, punch pillows etc. - and when you are calm then talk to your partner - do not use your partner as a punching bag or bully your partner so they give in to you through fear and if you do have difficulty with controlling your anger then you need to get help before it destroys your relationship.
Some couples find it hard to discuss anything together because it either turns into an argument or may find it difficult to express how they feel. If this is the case then try writing a letter to leave for your partner to read so they can understand how you feel and can take in what you are saying.
Laugh together and have fun together - if you regularly laugh together and have fun together great. If you haven't done that for a while then try and get the fun back into your relationship.
Remember your partner is not a possession and possessiveness isn't love. Just as it is healthy for partners to spend quality time with each other it is equally important to recognise that each individual is a person in their own right and has a right to their own opinions, and a right to spend time with their own friends and pursue their own interests. Nobody has a right to control another person , and if this is a problem for you then it would be advisable to seek counselling as if you control another person ultimately you are likely to drive the person away from you and you are probably making your partner extremely unhappy.
Jealousy can destroy a relationship if it gets out of hand. Too many people bring baggage from previous relationships into new relationships. If you have been hurt in a previous relationship that does not mean your new partner is going to hurt you. By constantly being suspicious and mistrusting your partner can lead you to driving your partner away. The person you are with now is not the same person as you were with before. Try to put yourself in your partner's shoes. If you were a trustworthy person and being honest in the relationship how would it make you feel if your partner constantly accused you of lying, questioned you all the time about where you were or who with, accused you of cheating etc. when you were doing none of these things.
You cannot judge a person on how a totally different person treated you. For a relationship to be healthy there has to be trust between two people and unless you have very good reason to believe your partner is betraying that trust, then for the sake of the relationship you need to try and put all other thoughts out of your mind. Tell yourself that your partner has chosen you to be with, your partner loves you.
Make quality time for each other . Try when you can to spend time together - try and get out of the house together - go for a meal, film, walk in the park, do some activity together, maybe some of the things you used to do when you first met, or just chill out in the evening with candles, take away meal and relax together. Sometimes people are so busy sorting out their work, the children, etc. that they don't spend time with each other as a couple and this is important to keep the marriage healthy. Just as you make time for the children or your work you need to make time for each other.
Keep the physical side of your marriage healthy . Make time for this just as you did when you first got together. If you can book a night away sometime together then do that, give each other a candlelit massage, spend time making your partner feel loved - not just with intimacy but also with lots of affection and hugs.
If there are sexual frustrations in a relationship then sit down and talk about it - don't allow it to fester as one partner may be building up resentment against the other. If there are problems then seek help but talk about it together - don't turn your back on your partner.
Try not to go to sleep on an argument - life is too short to keep up resentment and grudges or stony silences - nobody knows what the future holds so always try to make up before you go to bed.
Say sorry - if you have treated your partner unfairly or taken your aggression out on your partner then say sorry - don't just act like nothing has happened but have the decency to treat your partner with respect and say sorry.
If you feel your relationship isn't as happy as it could be try and go back to when you first got together:
- make time for each other
- talk to each other and listen to each other
- share problems
- work out and solve problems together
- don't argue about the problem but work out the solution
- keep your relationship exciting and fresh
- make time for affection and intimacy
- seek help and support if you feel you need it. Sometimes when you are too closely involved in a situation it is hard to stand back and look at it without all the emotion involved - a third party can sometimes see things more clearly and look at things more rationally.
Mediation helps many thousands of parents stay out of the court system and also keeps the cost of separation and divorce manageable. Mediation can also help children to come to terms with the changes in their own lives if they see their parents moving on and coping with each other. For further information of what mediation can offer see listing below for National Family Mediation.
The breakdown of any relationship can be devastating especially when one of the partners may not have felt that there was anything wrong with the relationship and it has come as a total shock when their partner announces they are leaving. In some situations a person can feel so hurt, betrayed, that they feel they cannot go on living. The reality is that life does have to go on but it is important that you allow yourself time and space to grieve for the loss of your relationship. Too many people rush into another relationship without having come to terms with the loss of the previous relationship. Often people may feel frightened of being alone but rushing into a relationship before you are ready may only lead to further heartache for you.
A loss of a relationship can also mean a loss of confidence, especially if your partner has left you for someone else. Just as a person can fall in love, a person can fall out of love and/or fall in love with someone else. It may be hard to accept but if you still have love feelings for your partner would you really want him/her to stay with you if ultimately they were unhappy and maybe they can find a chance of being happy with someone else and you can also have a chance of finding happiness and fulfilment in another relationship.
If your partner has recently left and it has dented your confidence then try and use the time to build your confidence and self esteem up. Try not to look at it that it must have been something wrong about you, or you were not attractive enough or run yourself down as too many people do. Recognise that the reason for the breakdown may have been nothing to do with you but more to do with where your partner was at and maybe how they had changed.
Try to take something positive from what you may see as a totally negative situation. If you had a number of happy years with your partner then tell yourself that that is something which you had which perhaps other people haven't had. Some people go throughout their life never knowing what it feels like to be in a happy, loving relationship. If you are having difficulty in letting go of your ex partner it may help to write a letter about how you feel about the ending of the relationship. This can be therapeutic and prevent you from bottling things up inside which can lead to depression. Some people may write a letter and then destroy it or some may choose to send it to their ex partner. You need to do whatever you feel will help you to let go of the previous relationship and move on with your life. Try to see it as a new beginning.
Try not to constantly dwell on the past and what may or may not have happened if you had done things differently. You did what you felt was right at the time - everyone can look back in hindsight and think how they may have acted differently - however, you cannot change the past, - but you can take that insight with you into future relationships and do things differently in future relationships. Try not to feel bitter and vengeful against your ex partner - this will only end up destroying you and will not help you to move on.
You may feel isolated as sometimes when partners break up they may find that their friends tend to take sides and may not be so friendly towards you. Use this time to take stock of your life and how you can make a new life for yourself. Many people take the opportunity to spend time on making themselves feel good, a new hairdo, new clothes, taking up new interests and hobbies where you can meet new people, make new friendships, boost your confidence. Life does have to go on and try to see it as a new beginning in your life with new challenges. It is natural you may find difficulty in trusting potential partners which is why it is so important not to rush into a new relationship when you are vulnerable. Take time to get to really know someone first and give the person time to really get to know you.
How a relationship breakdown may affect children and young people
Sadly we get too many calls from children and young people who are being used as weapons by their separated/divorced parents. Often the child is constantly questioned about the other parent, if the other parent has a new partner, the child is often asked to repeat what is happening in the other household, one parent may try and turn the child against the other parent, etc. If you are using your child in this way please stop it now as you are causing a lot of confusion, hurt, pain, damage to your child. It can lead to your child having depression, anxiety, it can affect their schoolwork, and it can lead to children harming themselves and feeling extremely unhappy.
If you are angry at your ex partner and hurt you need to find a way of dealing with that and trying to be civil and polite to each other for the sake of your children. It is not appropriate to run down your ex partner in front of your children or try and turn your child against your ex partner. You do not have the right to try and destroy your child's relationship with your ex partner.
There are unfortunately many parents who make access as difficult as possible for their ex partner and this is not fair on the children or the ex partner. Nobody wants a relationship to breakdown - unfortunately it is part of life, people change, people fall in and out of love, and it is best to try and not cause additional distress and pain through bitterness or trying to seek some kind of revenge.
In the breakdown of a relationship it is important that both parents sit down with their children and explain that you have decided to live apart as sometimes adults are no longer able to live together for whatever reason. It is important to reassure your child that both parents will be there for him/her and that you still love your child just the same. Reassure your child the breakdown is nothing to do with them as many children do feel they are the cause of the breakdown and it was their fault in some way.
When a relationship breaks down it is best to be as honest and upfront as you can with your children. They notice and feel things more than you may realise and sometimes separating parents can be so wrapped up in argument and scoring points over each other that the children get forgotten. Just as it is a vulnerable time for you it is a vulnerable time for your child and they need a lot of loving and reassurance by both parents.
Try and give time to spend with your child to actually ask him/her how he/she is feeling. Again from calls we have from children and young people we find that children are hurting but don't want to talk to their parents because they feel they may be upsetting the parent so they are suffering in silence. Give them the opportunity to talk about how they feel and remember that you may have lost the love for your ex partner but your child hasn't and ideally your child needs to still maintain a loving and healthy relationship with both parents (except in situations of abusive parent/child relationships). A child should never be put in a situation where they feel they have to choose between their parents or take sides.
If you are going through a difficult breakdown in relationship or you are finding it difficult to come to terms with please try and seek some support and counselling may help you to grieve for your loss and move on with your life. If your child is finding it difficult to adjust there are agencies which provide therapy and counselling for children and young people.
Agencies which provide information and support
Child Maintenance Options
0800 988 0988
Find out about child maintenance options and making the arrangement best suited to your circumstances.
Offers help and hope to those suffering pain from broken relationships through its confidential self-help courses facilitated by a group of trained men and women who have all experienced broken relationships or divorce. Approx £40 for 8 weeks course (maybe some concessions if on benefits)
Association of Separated & Divorced Catholics:
Support organisation to help individuals cope with the distress of marital breakdown and its aftermath. 90 groups nationwide. Each group has a chaplain and close dialogue with bishops and priests is a vital role of the association. Through prayer, discussion days of reflection and social events, members try to adjust to their new state.
The Association for Shared Parenting
Exists to promote the rights of children to the nurture of both parents after separation or divorce. Support and advice to fathers and mothers who are worried about the welfare of their children after separation or divorce. Most commonly advice surrounding issues central to family law, parental responsibility, contact, residence, Children Act etc.
Care For the Family:
Aims to promote strong family life and to help those hurting because of family breakdown. Can also put single parents in touch with other single parents, arrange family breaks, penpal scheme, day and weekend events etc.
Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA):
Informal fellowship of men and women. Self help groups using 12-step programme to improve relationships for people of all backgrounds with a common interest in working through the problems that co-dependency has caused in their lives.
College of Sexual & Relationship Therapies:
Contact a Family
0808 808 3555
Charity providing support and advice to parents caring for a disabled child or a child with specific health conditions. Make contact with other families who are in a similar situation to you.
08451 228 669
Helpline for parents or carers of excessively crying, sleepless and demanding babies. Offers a listening service and suggestions about how to calm a baby, help it sleep better and generally help parents to cope. Does not give medical advice.
Divorce Recovery Workshops:
0333 335 0489
UK nationwide self help group run by volunteers who have attended the workshop. Offers a secure environment for discussion, understanding of feelings and also provides a new circle of friends when the workshop ends.
Families Need Fathers:
0300 0300 363
Explores ways to maintain a child's relationship with both parents following separation and divorce. Gives support to both men and women with contact and residence problems and to find ways to eliminate unnecessary and protracted legal conflict. Information on line, self help groups, membership £20.
Family Holiday Association:
Aim to improve the quality of family life for those parents and children who experience disadvantage by providing grants for holidays.
Family Rights Group:
0808 801 0366
Helpline and other support services for parents and carers who have children in care or who are in contact with social services.
0808 802 6666
Assists families and individuals overcome the effects of poverty in tangible ways, providing practical, emotional and financial support. Running family and children's centres, community mental health residential and day care, Educational Grants Advisory Service.
0808 800 2222
24 hour helpline for anyone involved in caring for children including stepfamilies. Offers listening, support, information and guidance on all issues of concern. Parenting classes and workshops for parents to share ideas and learn new skills.
Not for profit leading provider of help and support for foster carers in the UK. Fosterline 0800 040 7675 www.fosterline.info - Free confidential helpline for foster carers and those interested in becoming foster carers.
Gingerbread National Office:
0808 802 0925
Telephone advice, information and support for lone parents. Emotional support and listening service. Advice on rights ad responsibilities. Information on benefits, contact and residence, Child Support Act, housing, divorce, separation, solicitors, childcare. Network of local groups.
Grandparents Apart Self Help Group Scotland:
Support for grandparents apart from their grandchildren.
0300 123 7015
National charity which champions the vital role of grandparents and the wider family in children's lives - especially when they take on the caring role in difficult family circumstances.
Home-start runs schemes around the country providing support, friendship and practical help to families with children under five in their own homes.
LAC (Legal Advice Centre) SPITE project run by Queen Mary University School of Law.
020 7882 3931
Offers free advice to victims who have had their intimate images shared or where there is a threat of images being shared.
Appointments: 0800 389 3801
Listening and information service for people facing difficulty in their marriages, families or close personal relationships. Also offers face to face relationship counselling throughout England and Wales and referrals to other services as appropriate.
Mothers Apart From Their Children (MATCH):
BM Box No. 6334,
London WC1N 3XX
Voluntary self help network for mothers separated from their children, informal local meetings, contact list etc. Send sae for information.
National Association of Child Contact Centres
0845 4500 280 / 0115 948 4557
A neutral and safe place where a child can meet with one or both parents
National Family Mediation:
0300 4000 636
Help couples make joint decisions about a range of issues with a particular focus on arrangements for children. Provides details of local services.
Pre and Postnatal Depression Advice and Support
0300 003 0396
Helpline service for individuals and couples with relationship difficulties. Counselling and support service, information and referrals to the other 94 Relate centres throughout the UK and to other services as appropriate.
Reunite - International Child Abduction Centre
01162 556 234
Advice and support/information for parents and families in cases of parental child abduction or in cases where abduction feared. Advice on prevention of abduction.
Revenge Porn Helpline:
0345 6000 459 Mon-Fri 10am-4pm
Emails can be sent any time to email@example.com
A free resource full of useful information for victims of revenge porn, information about what the law says, what can be done to limit its effects and help from organisations such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, along with links to various resources and support agencies. In October 2014, The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling agreed an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill.
"It shall be an offence for a person to publish a private sexual image of another identifiable person without their consent where this disclosure causes distress to the person who is the subject of the image."
Spark - Making Relationships Work (Scotland)
Relationship Helpline: 0808 802 2088
Counselling Enquiries 0808 802 0050
Provide counselling to both couples and individuals as well as offering FOCCUS relationship inventory and workshops for young people and young parents. Also provide youth counselling.
0808 802 5544
Helpline and other support services for parents concerned about the mental health of a baby, child or young person. Wide range of publications for young people, parents and professionals, issues include depression, bullying, self harm.
www.4ormore.co.uk - A resource for larger families with more than 4 children with lots of useful tips and advice.
Works with children and families involved in family court proceedings and advises on what it considers is in the child's best interests
Online relationships and sex guide aimed at helping 16+ navigate relationship and sex issues as they go through and beyond cancer treatment.
www.cmoptions.org – find out about your maintenance options and making the arrangement best suited to your circumstances.
Understanding what healthy relationships are and what is not acceptable in a relationship
www.divorceaid.co.uk - Advice, support and information for children, young people and adults relating to divorce
www.fatherhoodinstitute.org - collates and publicises international research on fathers, fatherhood and different approaches to engaging with fathers by public services and employers, helps shape national policies by ensuring a father inclusive approach to family policy.
www.fertilityfriends.co.uk – information and support around infertility issues, largest online community of UK infertility patients.
www.growingkids.co.uk - Lots of tips and advice for bringing up healthy happy children.
www.itsfinished.com - Lots of information about relationship breakdown and how to cope.
www.netmums.com - Local network for mums with information and advice on being a mum with young children in your home town.
www.ondivorce.co.uk - Information on legal, financial and support
www.singleparents.org.uk – advice and information for single parents.
www.onlydads.org - Organisation for lone fathers across the UK. Offers advice, a forum for making contact, discounted holidays and clothes purchases, free legal and financial aid.
www.onlymums.org - On-line support for single mums includes free financial support, legal help, discounts and offers from retailers, forums for networking and making friends.
Everything you wanted to know about building and maintaining healthy relationships
Useful advice for anyone who struggles with jealousy
Information, advice and support on all aspects of divorce
Better Relationships: Practical Ways To Make Your Love Last (Relate Guides) by Sarah Litvinoff - Publishers Vermilion: ISBN 0091856701
Click here to read more or buy this book
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