Give your relationship a boost by following these easy tips from the experts
Relationships are never easy, but with a little help and some expert relationship advice you can get yours back on track.
What was the last thing you rowed with your partner about? What to watch at the cinema? Why they didn’t take the bins out? It sounds familiar doesn’t it… Occasionally those niggles run deeper though and what was a quarrel can snowball into something more deep-seated.
In the heat of an argument, it sometimes feels like the only way to resolve the issue is through a mediator. That’s all good and well but unless you are undergoing face-to-face couples counselling to address long-standing problems, no one has instant access to an arbiter. Or do they?
We’ve stumbled upon ‘Couples Counseling‘, an app which leads the pack when it comes to relationship rebuilding. Open up the app on your phone and it gives you a direct line to a live therapist who is on call to answer questions and share their expert relationship advice.
Aimed at improving communication between couples, in the first instance the therapist can literally step in to break down the ‘he said/she said’ argument piece by piece. And once the initial sting is removed, the app also allows you to send predefined messages to your partner on the go, browse general relationship advice and keep a handy list of observations about where your relationship is at.
So why not download Couples Counseling to your phone when the waters at home are calm so that next time tempers rise, you can reach for the therapist in your pocket and let them step in…
Want more relationship advice? We’ve chatted to the experts to help solve all your relationship concerns…
Psychologist Oliver James has teamed up with The School of Life to offer a new perspective on companionship. His new book, How To Develop Emotional Health (£7.99, Pan Macmillan) can help us overcome unhelpful thought patterns that impact on our happiness, especially when it comes to relationships with others.
Counsellor Frank Vilaasa has been helping couples to impove their relationships across the UK, Australia and South East Asia for the past twenty years. His book What Is Love? (£13, Human Publishing) will help you discover practical ways to boost your relationship.
Click through to find Oliver and Frank's top tips to enhance your relationship today...
Cultivate an attitude of trust that everything will work out for the best, Frank says. Negative thoughts of insecurity, jealousy or possessiveness should be swapped for positive statements about self respect, respecting each other's freedom and trusting that life will take its natural course.
'Whether at work or at home, if relationships are a source of pain and frustration, you should look within your self', Oliver advises.
'You probably cannot change the type of person your partner is, but once you identify your relationship patterns, you can change yourself. '
Appreciating what we have and being grateful for the challenging times, as well as the good times, will enable us to learn more tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness, Frank believes.
By seeing it from this perspective our relationships may not always be perfect, but both parties will feel important to one another.
'In the darkest moments, of course you will consider leaving your partner; at the moments of greatest anger may even threaten one another with this. But before you go any further down the road, you need to grasp the scale of the wreckage that will be caused by the resulting car crash', Oliver says.
'On the whole, separation or divorce will be damaging to your children. Looked at more selfishly, divorcees themselves often suffer grieviously. They are much more prone to misery.'
Remind yourself of the things that prevent the heart from opening - and those that help it open. Frank suggests that a relationship can suffer if too many demands, criticisms and judgements are made. It's beneficial to be non-possessive, trusting, honest, accepting and appreciative.
According to Frank, we should avoid going along with things to please
someone else. Finding out what gives us joy in life and clearly
communicating these things to our partners lets them know where they
Every couple needs their own space so it's important to take time out for ourselves, Frank says. This can be achieved by cultivating our own interests and separate circles of friends.
'It is important to understand that modern life severely depletes our relationships', Oliver points out. 'Studies comparing people in the 1950s and 1960s to the present day prove that we tend to have many, many more friends (accelerated by the likes of Facebook) but far fewer intimates.
'Yes a therapist might be part of the answer, and a marital therapist may be needed too, but even more important may be to recapture the network of intimates which you may have belonged to at school or university, but which your subsequent life has dispersed.'
It may sound simple, but by showing your partner you are listening to them encourages more openness and trust within the relationship, Frank says. Try to avoid giving advice or your opinion straight away, but instead take a step back to show you are listening and understand their point of view.
Keep in mind that physical attractiveness has a lot to do with how radiant and good you feel, Frank reveals. Physical exercise, dance and yoga can all help to keep your inner spark alive. And a genuine smile is a very inexpensive way of enhancing your appearance.
'Reflect long and hard about how your childhood has coloured your choice of partner. Understand that this does not mean that your partner shares every trait of your mother or father', Oliver says.
'That your husband, for instance, shares your father's tendency to lose his temper if the washing-up is not done should not prevent you from noticing that, unlike your father, he is an enthusiastic cook...Between you, you have to start a dialogue about how your pasts are colouring your present.'
To reclaim the passion in our love lives we have to know how to make it happen and sitting around talking about the mortgage or bills you need to pay is unlikely to create the right ambience, Frank says.
Body language can create an amorous mood, so stop thinking and start acting! Find ways to make yourself feel sexy (new underwear, a pampering treat or a workout), and silently let the energy of that feeling communicate itself to your partner.
Try to arrange time together where you won't be distracted, Frank suggests. This could be a trip away for the weekend, or simply an evening without the kids. In order to really connect with someone, you both need to be present in the moment.