Work to keep the flame alive
Relationships Australia’s Bill Robinson, sexologist Gabrielle Morrissey and Family Planning WA’s Rebecca Smith offer these tips for a long and happy union:
• Keep the romance alive:“Work on keeping things interesting, on keeping the excitement in the relationship alive, and not just in a sexual sense, ” Dr Morrissey said. “Do new things together and find time to go out alone.”
“Whatever it was that you enjoyed doing together in the beginning, keep doing those things, whether it’s going for walks or going to the movies or concerts, ” Mr Robinson said. “If you have small children and your time together is limited, try to keep some of those things alive as much as you can.”
• Conflict, communication and compromise: “Couples should not be afraid of conflict, ” Mr Robinson said. “Having disagreements does not mean the relationship is doomed. Each person has their own opinions and values, and arguing constructively without creating power battles leads the way to compromise. Sometimes, it’s fine to disagree on some issues and leave it at that.”
Dr Morrissey said couples who were not afraid to engage in conflict were practising their skills of resolution, negotiation and compromise, which were useful when serious situations and issues arose in a relationship. “When you merge as a couple, it doesn’t mean that you literally become one person, ” Dr Morrissey said. “If you are two independent people with your own minds, there is bound to be conflict. As long as you have good conflict, you will constantly be doing repairing work and, at the same time, you will be working on growing both individually and as a couple.”
• Accept change: “In the first couple of years together, people can’t see anything negative in the other person, ” Mr Robinson said. “A long-term relationship will change over time and so will the people in it. Individuals and the relationship itself will grow at different rates and there will be times when couples will move apart.
“It’s important to recognise those changes are necessary and the trick is to balance individual and joint dreams and try to find a point where they overlap.”
• Look after yourself: Couples who had their own interests, friends and sporting and work commitments often felt more balanced within themselves, which translated into a happy relationship, Mr Robinson said.
Family Planning WA’s Rebecca Smith said sexual health also played a vital role in people’s lives, both individually and as part of a couple. “Taking care of your sexual health contributes to your overall wellbeing and personal satisfaction, and is therefore an important part of any relationship, ” Ms Smith said.
“Keep up to date with pap smears, protect yourself against sexually transmitted illnesses and have things like painful periods or sex checked by a health professional. It’s all part of looking after your sexual health. It is also important to talk about your sexual health with your partner, particularly if you notice any unusual symptoms.”
© The West Australian
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