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Three-legged Race: Three tips to strengthen your relationship

Three-legged Race: Three tips to strengthen your relationship

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.

  1. 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” statements.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.