Forget Valentine’s Day: how you can build a relationship that lasts
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that around 42% of marriages will end in divorce.
Meanwhile, Relate has reported that 50% of separated people feel there were things they could have done to prevent their break-up.
When Valentine's Day comes around, couples will usually celebrate the occasion with a romantic meal or card – until day-to-day life takes over and we fall into the same old routine.
However, psychologists at Griffith University say that lasting and rewarding relationships require hard work, commitment and dedication.
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Here are some key strategies for building a strong, lasting relationship:
- Communication: lack of communication can lead to a build-up of negative emotions, resulting in arguments or in one partner becoming withdrawn. How you think will affect how you feel and subsequently how you behave, so, if you think: "My partner always works late and I never see them," you may feel resentful and avoid talking to them when they get home. It's important to notice this, and to arrange a good time to discuss the situation.
- Managing conflict: be specific about an issue and how it could be resolved. Stay focused on what you want to discuss, listen to your partner, think about how you want to resolve it, be prepared to compromise and work together on the solution.
- Touch: when your partner touches you, it increases oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates bonding and decreases both partners' blood pressure and physiological stress levels.
- An adrenaline-fuelled date: psychologists at the University of Toronto say that studies show that adrenaline increases sexual interest. Choose something like a scary movie, a murder mystery at the Avon Valley Railway, or mountain biking at Ashton Court.
- Laughter: a neuroscientist, Robert Provine, Ph.D., observed thousands of incidents of spontaneous laughter in everyday life. In his witty book Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, he says that laughter restores a sense of connection between two
people, helping them to take pleasure in the company of each other. This can lead the way to intimacy: so – try watching a funny film, going to see a stand up comedian, or reminiscing about funny moments together.
- Focus on the positives: compliment your partner; remember to thank them for any little thing they do. Psychologists have shown that how you behave actually affects how you feel – so, if you thank your partner for running a bath for you after a long day at work, then you're more likely to think, "He really cares about me," and feel loved. In the same situation, your partner will feel good for getting your praise, think, "She's so appreciative," and is more likely to continue doing thoughtful things. It's called positive reinforcement!
- Keep romance alive: it's easy to slip into the routine of a relationship and start to feel it's boring. Re-light that fire by remembering what you did at the beginning of a relationship and revive it. Have a date night, leave little notes in their lunchbox, or go for a romantic walk on the Clifton Downs in Bristol or at Prior Park Landscape Garden in Bath.
Office of National Statistics: www.ons.gov.uk/ons