Do you remember three-legged races? This is where partners tie one’s
right leg to the left leg of the other. As the partners learn how to synchronize
their movements, they begin not to fall over as often. Those that are
good at it make it look easy, but many struggle to make two different
bodies work together as one.
Relationships, no matter the type, are very similar.
Like a relationship, working together is key. During a race, if these partners
try pulling each other in different directions they will flounder, making
little progress and may even fall. However, if they put their arm around
the other, supporting the opposite partner, they can become more like
one. This is also the key to a successful relationship.
Both parties of a relationship have to work toward the same goal and learn
to adapt to challenges that lie ahead. When relationships are new, they
are fun and exciting; filled with conversations about hobbies, favorite
memories, fears, dislikes, and likes. Naively, it is during these times
that trouble seems so far off. So, how does one improve a relationship
when the newness wears off?
Check out these three tips on strengthening relationships.
Do not be scared to ask for what you want. Many of us commonly use passive communication thinking we want to avoid
conflict, but this style actually causes more conflict. Passive communication
is unclear, nonspecific and indirect, leaving people confused about what
we are saying. Conversely, assertive communication teaches us to be clear,
specific, direct, problem-oriented, and suggest a solution. Most people
fail to offer a solution during their normal conversations, but this is
a chance to request for a change in behavior or circumstance that the
other person can work towards; what you would like for the other person
to do. Another crucial step to using assertive communication is to keep
it neutral. Most people quit listening when they feel attacked. The easiest
way to do this is by replacing “you” statements with “we”
Do not be scared to cheat.This word creates such a negative connotation especially in relationships.
However, every decision we make cheats someone or something. An example
would be, stopping for an errand after work. This will put you home later
cheating your loved ones of time, but if you wait, it would cheat yourself
out of a full lunch break the following day. Be intentional with your
choices and make them count, explore what options you have and those that
are affected be these choices.
Do not be scared to protect your boundaries. When talking about boundaries people often think about physical boundaries
(my bubble) and material boundaries (my stuff). However, other areas include
intellectual, emotional, sexual and time boundaries. All of these areas
are yours and you have the right to have your own options and values in
regards to them. Although, a boundary does little good if people do not
know where that boundary is or if it is too rigid or too porous. It is
imperative that you let people know what your boundaries are and enforce
consequences when people regularly cross them. However, rigid boundaries
make you detached and keep you at a distance preventing intimacy in your
relationships. Porous boundaries allow others and yourself to cross them,
undermining the boundaries all together, creating confusion.
Relationships need nurtured and regular adaptations. None of us stay the
same person; we grow and change and as such our relationships require
growth and change. While many think that a relationship can survive on
cruise control, the results of idleness are not quickly identified, but
are terminal if not corrected. Relationship are difficult and require
effort, but the payoff is worth the time.
Brad Hudson is a Provisional Marriage and Family Therapist (PMFT) in the Campbell
County Medical Group
Kid Clinic. The Kid Clinic is a school-based pediatric clinic offering medical care
for Campbell County students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and
their siblings ages 4 years to 21 years; and counseling services for children
4 years to 21 years. It is located at 800 Butler Spaeth Rd., across from
St. Matthew’s Catholic Church. The Kid Clinic is open Monday-Friday
from 8 am-5 pm. For more information, call 307-688-8700 or visit
www.cchwyo.org/kidclinic. The Kid Clinic is a collaborative effort between Campbell County Health and
Campbell County School District.