When you hit the like button on your bestie’s ‘picture perfect relationship’ posts with her husband on social media and feel envious, just remember that those ‘oh-so-cute’ photos have been carefully curated, edited, and filtered just to garner attention and appreciation from friends, relatives, strangers, and acquaintances. However, in real life, there are no filters. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Relationships undergo a series of trials and tribulations. In any relationship, conflict is inevitable, but it is critical to recognize when it is a red flag. However, it is not the end of the world. Just like we consult a doctor when we fall sick, couples too can take help from relationship counsellors to save their relationship from falling apart.
Many times, couples feel embarrassed by the idea of seeking help and avoid seeing a therapist. But, believe it or not, couples counseling really helps. Even a healthy relationship can benefit from it. So, how do you know that your relationship needs counseling? Here are a few signs to look out for according to New Delhi’s leading marriage counselor Shivani Misri Sadhoo.
Communication gap: Communication is the key to all successful relationships. In order to understand each other, couples need to communicate well. And always remember that communication is a two-way process. If you want yourself to be heard, you too must lend your ear whenever your partner wants to share their feelings and emotions. So, if you really feel that your partner constantly withdraws from an interaction or simply avoids confronting the issues, then this is a classic case of stonewalling. This is where a counselor may be able to break down the wall between you two and help with proper communication.
Lack of intimacy: Do you suddenly feel that your relationship has lost its spark? Although the honeymoon phase may not last forever, the feeling of togetherness must not fade away. Lack of physical and emotional intimacy can affect your relationship badly. Talking to a relationship counselor might help.
Too many arguments: As mentioned earlier in this article, arguments are an inevitable part of any relationship. Arguments are not necessarily bad. It is the way people handle them that makes a difference. Sometimes conflicts blow out of proportion. Couples must ‘agree to disagree’ to resolve a conflict in a healthy way. Relationship counselors can help you diffuse disagreements in a calm and composed way and make sure you respect and love each other.
Lack of trust: Trust is the cornerstone of a strong and successful relationship. Once broken, it is difficult to rebuild. Many times, couples fail to comprehend the real reason for this lack of trust. And that’s where a relationship expert comes into the picture. A counselor can help couples decode the real reasons for mistrust and help them rebuild it.
An Affair: No relationship is ever without flaws. But, if you or your partner are thinking of having or already having an affair, then there’s something seriously wrong with your relationship. The very thought of having an affair is a clear indication that you are seeking something your partner or better half cannot provide you with. This is regardless of whether it is an emotional or physical desire. If you have had an affair already or are planning to have one, then it is high time you consider taking help from a relationship counselor. This will help repair that breach of trust.
Transition: Even though change is the only constant in this life, any significant change in your life, whether it is getting married, having a child, buying a house, getting sick, or even changing careers, can create friction in relationships. Getting help from a counselor may be the best way to help you deal with change effectively.
Let us assume a scenario, a couple sitting down at opposite ends of their sofa, and glaring at each other. Actually, this couple in their 40s had yet another fight. It is a continuation of something that started last night, but the reality was they had variations of the same row for the previous three years.
The complaints go on like “I have asked you to be kinder, but you speak to me with such contempt,” the husband says.
“But you are also doing things that upset me,” the wife counter-claimed. “What am I supposed to do?”
Shivani Sadhoo says, they are in gridlock and falling into three common mistakes made by couples with perpetual problems.
It is quite easy to have a long list of what your partner could do differently and a short list of your own. Probably yours is completely blank or full of hopeless ideas such as “give up.” Sadly, pointing out your partner’s shortcomings does not encourage change—merely defensiveness and counter-attack. Usually, it is encouraged that couples step into each other’s shoes and look at the world from there. However, once you reach gridlock, you are quite angry to make this leap of imagination.
Mistake 2: Protesting louder
If you cannot get through to your partner, you might wonder, why not raise the stakes? Probably they will finally understand and take you seriously. So, you shout louder, throw a bigger tantrum, or move from sniping to sarcasm and on to quite nasty name-calling. Other versions involve bringing in the opinions of other people to back you up and punishing your partner by refusing intimacy. Unfortunately, couples debate alternative narratives, forming a case against their partner.
Mistake 3: Flee and purse
At a certain point, one partner will check out. It might be walking away, internally shutting down, or people-pleasing (by which it means agreeing to anything for a quiet life but being filled with resentment or giving an empty apology to close down the argument). There are couples who simply beg their partners to stop. Not surprisingly, the other partner does not feel heard and fears nothing will ever transform. So they prevent the fleeing partner from leaving, following them to the next room or they rekindle the row a few moments later.
How to break the gridlock
Consider that both of you are correct. It is quite easy to fall into black-and-white concepts of right and wrong, win and defeat. Instead of this comparative approach, embrace something called contemplative thinking. In place of “yes but,” switch to “yes and,” which does not negate your spouse’s position. Once you accept that both are correct, you open up to creative solutions: “What can we do distinctly?”
Look deeper into the problem. Ask yourself, “What is this argument actually about?” If you both feel so strongly, it should be something important and that usually goes back to your childhood. So, tell each other what past trauma has been reactivated. If you require help with this, find a Gottman-trained therapist Shivani Misri Sadhoo.
Stay in the cauldron of conflict longer. It is natural to look to exit conflict as equally as possible but it takes some time to go through. Do not put pressure on yourselves. It will generally take several discussions, perhaps, over several days. So learn to feel more comfortable having uncertainty and agree to keep talking.
Become vulnerable with each other. In place of showing your armored exterior, speak about what you find hard. Remember to use “I” statements. For instance: “I feel anxious” instead of “You make me feel anxious.”
Look for similarities and build on those. It is helpful to remind each one of what you agree on. For instance: “We both want the best for the children” or “We are both feeling quite overwhelmed.” If you address the better part of your spouse rather than attack their flaws, it is simpler to build cooperation.
Going through. Once you stop pushing your specific solution, another way will slowly arise. If you are still stuck, it might be that you need to return to the earlier steps and do some more talking and plenty of listening. When you both feel really understood, you will be ready to march forward.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the plethora of “quick fix” relationship advice offered by various books, magazines, blogs, and daytime TV talk shows? Though there is no doubt it is presented with good intent, much of this advice is terribly contradictory. Such as a quick-fix weight loss program, it abandons any effort to support hypotheses with research, basing guidance rather on personal opinion and anecdotal evidence.
Probably, the most prominent quick-fix advice is that communication – and more categorically, learning to resolve your conflicts – is the key to romance and an enduring, happy relationship. This notion is a myth, and it is hardly the only misconception out there. Myths are destructive to your relationship because they can lead couples down the wrong way, or worse, convince them that their relationship is a hopeless scenario, says Shivani Sadhoo.
Communicating and employing active listening skills in trying to reach conflict resolution will save your relationship
While active listening is surely a useful skill, it alone cannot save your relationship. As Dr. Gottman points out, “even happily married couples can have screaming matches – loud arguments don’t necessarily doom a marriage.” We all have our disagreements, in a range of different ways. So go ahead, break all those active listening rules! Bear in mind your affection and respect for each other, and remember that using a softened startup when bringing up a problem can override natural variations in conflict style.
Neuroses or personality issues ruin a marriage
Everyone has issues they are not totally rational about, but they do not necessarily interfere with our relationships. The secret to a happy relationship is not having a “normal” personality but finding someone with whom you mesh. For instance, a person has a problem dealing with authority – he hates having a boss. If he were in a relationship having an authoritarian partner who tended to give commands and looked to tell him what to do, the outcome would be disastrous. The point is that neuroses do not have to ruin a relationship. What matters is the way you deal with them. If you can accommodate each other’s strange aspects with care, affection, and respect, your relationship can thrive.
Common interests bind you together
It depends on the way you can interact while pursuing those interests. Imagine that you and your partner are walking hand in hand inside your favorite used book store, smelling that old book smell, coffee in hand, headed for the “Literature” section. Romance is in the air. But wait! Just around the corner in “Politics,” a couple seems to be having an argument! Books are flying and tempers are flaring. “You stupid! He will never get sufficient electoral votes!” Clearly, enjoying the same activities could create an incredibly strong bonding between you and your partner, but these activities could also be a source of tension, depending on the way you interact while pursuing your common interests.
You scratch my back and…
It looks to make sense that deals must be made in order to maintain a sense of fairness and balance and that in romance a kiss must meet a kiss and a smile meet a smile. In reality, deal-making and contracts, quid pro quo, mostly are done in unhappy marriages. Do not keep score. Build bonding and strengthen your relationship by freely providing each other with positive overtures and support.
Dodging conflict will ruin your marriage
Everyone has separate methods of dealing with disagreements. A continuous barrage of honest criticism, for instance, might not be the best policy. An example here is when you head to the living room to watch the game, rather than getting in a tiff with you about the noise and constant TV watching, your wife goes for a run and comes back feeling better. When you are upset with your wife, you go into the backyard to play catch with your kids. Each of you finds a way to self-soothe, and both of you go on as if nothing happened. Finding a middle path that you both can agree on can let you talk things out when you truly need to while averting clashes over every trivial matter.
Affairs are the primary cause of divorce
In several cases, it is the other way around. According to a project it was found that around 80% of divorced men and women cited growing apart and loss of a sense of closeness to their partner as reasons for divorce, as opposed to just 20-27% blaming their separation on an extramarital affair. The reality is that most affairs are not started in an attempt to quench an unfulfilled desire for physical intimacy, but rather in an attempt to find friendship, support, attention, caring, concern, and respect beyond a relationship that feels lacking in these qualities.
Men are not biologically, “created” for marriage
Specific, theorists call upon natural evolutionary differences between males and females to argue that men have always been predisposed to have as many offspring as they can and follow successful reproduction with one female with a fast sprint to the next available, while women are inclined to nurture their young and look to keep the father close for protection. The conclusion they had is that men are just biologically more likely to have affairs. This is, in modern times, not a particularly worthy or accurate observation. It has been found out that affairs have to do with the availability of potential partners. According to one theorist, since women have entered the workplace in huge numbers, the number of extramarital affairs of young women now slightly exceeds that of men.
Men and women hail from different planets
You have all heard that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. This specific notion you may dispose of easily. Here is math for you. Dr. Gottman says that “the deciding factor in whether wives feel satisfied with the physical intimacy, romance, and passion in their marriage is, by around 70%, the quality of the couple’s friendship… and for men, the deciding factor is, by 70%, the quality of the couple’s friendship, so men and women come from the same planet after all.”
Nowadays, people use the word “relationship” so much that it is mostly assumed to have one universal definition. In reality, though, the word encompasses such a huge variety of kinds of human connections, both romantic and non-romantic, and it is likely that no two people share the exact same kind of understanding of what defines a relationship. So, here’s a cheat sheet of the basics.
A relationship is any sort of association or bond between people, whether intimate, platonic, positive, or negative, says Shivani Sadhoo. Generally, when people talk about “being in a relationship,” the term is referencing a particular type of romantic relationship involving both emotional and physical intimacy, some level of ongoing commitment, and monogamy (i.e., romantic and sexual exclusivity, wherein members do not have this sort of relationship with anyone else). That said, romantic relationships can take several different forms, from marriage to casual dating to ethical non-monogamy.
There are 4 basic forms of relationships, they are family, friendships, acquaintanceships and romantic. Few more forms of relationships are work, teacher/pupil, and community or group relationships. A few of them may overlap and coincide with each one. For instance, two individuals can be both colleagues as well as close friends.
Dating is the act of intentionally spending time with a person to get to know them better, have fun together, and enjoy being romantic. Dating could sometimes be about seeing if there’s probability of a more long-term relationship, or it can merely be about having fun without expectations for the future, which is at times called casual dating.
Not everyone agrees on what stage of commitment is implied when two individuals say they’re “dating.” Some people just use the term when there is already a defined, committed relationship in place, while others use the term to mean they are just exploring to see if there’s relationship potential.
In the context of couples, the terms “in a relationship” generally means being in a committed, long-term romantic relationship. A committed relationship is one where two people agree to continue being in a relationship for the foreseeable future. There is an understanding that the two will continue to spend time together, work on enhancing their relationship with each other, and continue nurturing their bond. People in committed relationships might choose to use identifiers such as a boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner to signify their relationship to others.
In traditional monogamous relationships, being in a relationship also means that a couple will be romantically and sexually exclusive—that is, they would not have any other romantic or sexual partners other than each other. In non-monogamous relationships, exclusivity isn’t needed
Marriage is one form of committed relationship wherein a couple publicly vows to live together and forms a legally binding union.
A casual relationship is the one where two individuals may be dating, regularly spending time together, and engaging in romantic or sexual activities—but sans any expectations for the relationship to last into the future. These sorts of relationships are generally, more situational and short-term, and they might or might not be exclusive.
People in casual relationships generally do like each other and are attracted to each other, though there might not be an intense emotional bond or desire to deepen the connection. Whereas people in committed relationships might see each other as life partners, people in casual relationships might not be as integrated into each other’s lives. They typically will not use terms like boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner.
Casual intimate relationship
This relationship is one where two individuals spend time together majorly to have physical intimacy with each other. They may see each other regularly getting physically intimate, or they might get physically intimate once and never see each other again. They perhaps like each other and enjoy each other’s company, but they are not interested in a romantic union with each other. Usually, there is no emotional connection, or the connection is distinctly platonic or friendly, like in a “friends with benefits” situation.
A situationship is a romantic relationship that has not been explicitly defined, normally by omission. The relationship might have several of the same qualities as a committed relationship, a casual relationship, or dating, but the people involved have merely not put labels on it—usually intentionally, whether that is to avoid making things complicated, because they are still figuring out what they want from each other, or because they are too afraid to bring up the “DTR talk” (conversation defining the relationship).
Normally, situationships usually have more emotional involvement than a friends-with-benefits scenario but not the explicit romantic feelings and commitment of a committed relationship.
While relationships sans labels work great for some people, situationships can mostly happen because the two people are not on the same page about what they want or because there is an assumption that the relationship would be short-term enough for it not to matter.
Ethical non-monogamy is a wide umbrella term for any relationship where individuals can have multiple romantic and sexual partners at the same time. It includes polyamory, open relationships, relationship anarchy, and several other types of relationships between more than two individuals. Ethically non-monogamous relationships can be casual, committed, open, exclusive, dating or sex-only, or some combination of these categories, and people in these sort of relationships might or may not use terms such as boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner to describe each other.
However according to psychology there are 7 kinds of relationships
· Infatuation: just passion
· Friendship: only intimacy
· Empty love: commitment solely
· Romantic love: passion and intimacy
· Fatuous love: passion and commitment
· Companionate love: intimacy with commitment
· Consummate love: passion, intimacy with commitment
How to define your relationship
When it comes to dating, romantic relationships, and sex, it is essential for partners to be transparent about what form of relationship they want and to ensure they are on the same page.
Here are a few things to ask each other to define the relationship:
a) What do you want from this relationship? Something casual, in-the-moment? Something more future-based? Not certain yet and simply want to explore for now?
b) Are you looking for a long-term relationship? If yes, do you see potential here?
c) Are you seeing another person?
d) Are there any romantic feelings here? Are both interested in exploring those feelings, or just want to keep things more casual?
e) How frequently do you both want to talk and see each other?
Well, these questions could feel intimidating or too serious, looking to avoid these questions means you’re simply choosing to make assumptions rather than seeking the truth.
People form commitments and expectations even sans labels. Not talking about the terms of your relationship does truly not mean you don’t have one.
And bear in mind, that defining the relationship does not mandatorily mean you need to enter into a serious or committed relationship. Defining the relationship is just about clarity.
Some people might choose not to label their relationship because they are afraid of being tied down too early or in a place where they feel trapped. However, one needs to understand that you maintain complete autonomy of yourself in every relationship you are in, and you are the one who is responsible for communicating what you require, what you want, and what you do not want. So, if you feel you are at a place where you cannot do not wish to date one person exclusively, that must be communicated to your partner so that he/she can make a decision about whether that works for them or not.
You have perhaps fallen in love at least once in your life. As you grow older, you come to the realization that falling in love is actually the easiest part. It is being in a relationship that can be quite challenging.
Marriage counselor Shivani Sadhoo says, relationships are not always easy. In fact, it takes a lot of work to cultivate them.
But this is the way love grows and lasts. So how do you make sure that you start your romantic relationships on the right note?
While each relationship is unique in its own way, there are generally 5 stages every couple goes through. It does not matter how you met or what your goals in the relationship are.
You will pass through each of these stages.
And how you manage them will define the shape — or the end result — of your relationship.
Every stage is a challenge on its own. Actually, the first two stages mostly prove to be the most challenging to every couple.
Let’s dive deeper into the 5 stages of a relationship.
The attraction and romance stage
This is what movies are all made of. In the initial stage of a relationship, you are in complete euphoria.
You are falling in love, and nothing could go wrong. Everything is just perfect – right from your first kiss to that energy you feel around them. They cannot do anything wrong, and you can never find any flaw in them. In fact, you go around your day in continuous high thinking about this person. And in a manner, you are actually high. Strong levels of dopamine, norepinephrine and even oxytocin are all released into your brain when you are attracted to someone. These chemicals force you to feel giddy and euphoric.
Your loss in appetite, and insomnia, all side effects of this little chemical haywire. This feeling can last from a couple of months to a couple of years. You better enjoy this phase while you can, because the next stages are where things turn real.
As it has been mentioned before, couples have a difficult time going through the first two stages of a relationship. This is because of the difference between the Attraction Stage and the Crisis Stage.
In the first few months of a relationship, everything appears to be going exceptionally well. However, the dopamine in our system eventually trickles out, and one begins seeing things more clearly. Your love glasses are removed. You begin becoming comfortable with each other, and things are becoming all too real. You see the toilet seat up one too many times, or they said something improper to your friends. The crisis stage is where your first arguments and relationship anxiety takes place.
Most couples will go through this stage and sadly, will actually break up. Suddenly, the other person seems too annoying or it’s a one-sided relationship. And one of you may be having cold feet. Are you truly compatible? The crisis stage is where your mettle as a couple will get tested. You are suddenly struggling for power and searching for harmony at the same time.
So you eventually conquered the crisis stage. Whoa!
You have clawed your way out of the hole, and now you find yourself in perfect harmony. You have formed a routine as a couple. Someone cooks and the other partner does the dishes. Everything is calm, and you see yourself in love with this person — in the manner that counts.
You decide to be together. Even when the going gets tough. Even when it may be difficult sometimes. You recognize that your partner is a completely other person with their own set of flaws, dreams, goals, desires, and needs. But you choose them anyway. This is what the commitment stage is all about. It is all about consciously deciding that this individual is the one for you. You may think the working stage was good, but the commitment stage is where you genuinely feel like you belong to this person.
This is generally, when couples take big steps in committing to each other – moving in, marriage, or having kids.
Real love/bliss stage
This is it. This is what everything you did was for. All the sweat, hard work, blood, and tears have brought you here. Finally, you are a team. Your relationship is no more the center of your world. Rather, you go outside of your relationship and make something beautiful. The real love or bliss stage is where couples work together on an ultimate goal or project.
This could be anything creative that means a lot to both of you, or something practical such as your dream home. But to several couples, it is about starting a family. And although there are continuous challenges that will test you, you have all the things you need to make it through. You have learned from your past mistakes. You remember the good times fondly and the bad times make you realize it was all worth it after all.
Relationships are a journey. But so is anything else in our life. True love is not something that simply gets handed to you. And these 5 stages prove just that.
It is important to know which stage you are in so that you will know how to get through it. If you see yourselves in a loop, repeatedly arguing about the same things, then you are probably still in the crisis Stage.
Concentrate on communicating better. If you are feeling stagnant, where everything looks fine, but it feels like you are not moving anywhere, then you are most likely in the working stage. Find out your next goals as a couple.
Eventually, being aware of where you are as a couple is the key to moving ahead.
Watch Out for the Red and Green Flags of Dating – Shares Couples Therapist Shivani Sadhoo
Getting to know someone actually you really like is a wonderful experience. You feel as if you will conquer the whole world. You stay up the entire night getting to know that special person and daydreaming about when you may see them again. And there is a nice reason for this.
Human beings are designed to bond with other humans. When you date, oxytocin is released into your brain. This helps you to bond. Dopamine releases to make you feel happy and elated when in the presence of your special person.
Due to this, you are not necessarily seeing clearly. You seem to minimize or completely ignore the bad and maximize the good. When you opt for something that does not feel right or a characteristic you do not like, you perhaps justify it or explain it away. This is the reason it is hard to recognize red flags at the initial stages of your relationship. Your body form does not want you to.
Fortunately, there is certainly research on what makes certain couples the “masters” and others the “disasters” of relationships. Relationship counselor Shivani believes you can use it as early as the first date to begin paying attention to whether or not you wish to continue with the other person.
So what actually makes a couple a “disaster”? One of the top predictors of that is the utilization of something according to Dr. John Gottman who called “The Four Horsemen,” which is a play about the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” coming to indicate the end of times.
The Four Horsemen basically are:
Criticism – Describing flaws in character within your partner
Defensiveness – Not taking responsibility for your part
Contempt – Belittling and taking a superior position
Stonewalling – Shutting out your partner or shutting down
You can begin to notice whether or not these are visible in your relationship even in the initial phases. What may look like?
If a person that you are dating, often criticizes you or other people, you may notice them saying words such as “always” or “never.” For instance, “you are always very late” or “you never think about me at night!”
Defensiveness seems like counter-criticizing, over-explaining, or justifying actions, or playing the victim. If you are dating and bring up an issue that you have and the other individual responds defensively, that could be something to watch out for. It might look like them saying, “I know I keep showing up late but I truly have a very busy job. Why do not you get that?”
Stonewalling is mostly the outcome of physiological overwhelm. This means the individual that is stonewalling perhaps has a racing heart and a rush of stress hormones. If you are with someone who is stonewalling, it will appear as if the other individual is zoned out or could not care less about what you are saying. You may experience this during the starting conflict. Probably the other person goes disappeared or is offline and becomes unresponsive.
This one is quite important to watch out for. Contemptuous is the most damaging of the horsemen. Contempt seems when someone holds on a position of superiority. It could sound like put-downs or mean-spirited sarcasm.
Other instances of contempt are laughing at you (not with you), putting down your own interests or profession, or taking on a position of being better than you in a certain capacity. If someone shows contempt in the initial stages of dating, this is one big red flag. So now that you have looked at what you need to avoid, let us look at what you need to look for.
Fortunately, it did not just stop with studying the disasters of relationships. There was an attempt to know what it was the masters did differently. In the research, Dr. Gottman found the antidotes to the Four Horsemen, which are counteractive behaviors for each of the above.
When you are in the process to know someone, look for them. It is a good sign they can manage conflict and show you respect, even while you differ.
Instead of becoming critical, the masters of relationships discuss their problems and complaints by initiating the conversation gently. They also look to follow a formula of “I noticed this, I feel that, I need this” when discussing what is troubling them, instead of being accusatory “You always do this, you need to do that, why don’t you…“
Rather than being defensiveness, you want to take proper responsibility for your part. It means that you own even the tiniest piece of the problem when it is there. Individuals who take responsibility listen to their partner when they have a problem, validate the issues, and take pause prior to responding.
This could sound like one partner saying, “Hey, I have noticed that when we go out with your friends, I am left all alone in the corner. I feel truly awkward in those moments. I require you to stay by my side a bit more until I get to know them” (a gentle start-up). In turn, the other individual responds non-defensively by saying, “You are correct. I should not walk away from you like that. I can imagine it is uneasy when you don’t know everyone yet.”
Everyone gets upset. It is human to have overwhelming emotions momentarily. However, those that do well in relationships seem to take responsibility for soothing themselves and they have partners who are willing to let them take the time they want to self-soothe. It means that when someone needs a break, they take it and the other individual provides them space.
To overcome contempt, the individual expressing it requires to lean into recognizing and expressing their own feelings. They perhaps also need to explore their earlier experiences that are leading them to feel anger or hostility toward their partner. Rather than showing contempt and saying “I cannot believe you are late. You disgust me,” a partner who can properly express themselves may say, “When you are late, I feel so upset.”
The initiation of the relationship is full of happy hormones that want you to bond (and mate) with your newfound significant other. Learning to identify the signs of a healthy partner can assist you to override some of those hormones and see a little more clearly.
Watch out for people who are critical, defensive, withdrawn, and contemptuous. The use of these conducts doesn’t imply that you should not be in a relationship with them, but it actually means you need to get curious regarding how they respond when you set boundaries around those sorts of behaviors.
Eventually, you want a partner who is gentle with you (even when you are upset), able to take responsibility for his or her actions (even when it’s difficult), works with you to soothe your emotional systems, and own your past pain and resentment so that he or she don’t inflict it upon you.
Reveals Couples Therapist Shivani Misri Sadhoo what defines intimacy between couples
According to The Oxford English Dictionary intimacy has been defined as the “inmost thoughts or feelings; proceeding from, concerning, or impacting one’s inmost self: closely personal.”
While couples therapist Shivani Sadhoosays, from a psychological or relationship’s view intimacy generally, denotes mutual vulnerability, openness, and sharing. It is mostly present in close, loving relationships like in marriages and friendships. The word is also at times used to refer to sexual interactions, but intimacy does not have to be restricted to be sexual only.
Though intimacy could undoubtedly exist beyond romantic relationships, it most usually pertains to dating and marriage. The word intimacy has been derived from Latin word “intimus,” which means ‘inner’ or ‘innermost. In the majority of romance languages, the word intimate refers to an individual’s innermost qualities.
Intimacy lets people bond with each other on multiple levels. Therefore, it is a mandatory component of healthy relationships.
Upon hearing the word, most of you perhaps instantly jumped to thinking about physical intimacy, but other forms of intimacy are simply as important, particularly when it comes to romantic relationships. Let’s have a look at some different kinds of intimacy.
While holding a hand or hugging are both examples of physical intimacy, this form is most commonly used in reference to sex. And while sex is integral in relationships, you can also showcase physical intimacy through kissing, holding hands, cuddling, and skin-to-skin contact.
While these minor physical displays of affection might seem mundane, they can actually help you and your partner cultivate a feeling of bonding and closeness.
With reference to sex, a part of intimacy is also about feeling safe enough with your partner to share your likes and dislikes. Make certain that you are asking for the same piece of information from your partner. In this manner, you can facilitate a safe haven where both of you will feel comfortable sharing your deepest thoughts, needs, and desires.
Emotional intimacy can also be one of the most vital aspects of a relationship. One specific journal defined emotional intimacy as involving “a perception of closeness to another that lets sharing of personal feelings, accompanied through expectations of understanding, affirmation, and demonstrations of caring.
To harvest emotional intimacy, take the proper time to listen to and share with your partner every day. Also, make notes of special moments or things that remind you of your special one so that you can let them know you are also thinking about them.
Studies have suggested that self-disclosure helps build feelings of intimacy inside marriages, which will make your bond even stronger. A big part of it is sharing your thoughts and feelings with transparency, honesty, and listening to your loved ones when they do the same.
While couples do not have to be joined at the hip, shared experiences are essential in healthy relationships. They are also mostly the way that relationships start, so experiences could even add an aspect of nostalgia for long-term partners.
If you are looking to deepen your experiential intimacy, this is an excellent moment to book a trip or try out a fun new date spot or activity in your city. Try to learn something new with regard to your partner.
See, you do not have to watch a specific TV show together every single night, but it could be fun to have intellectual conversations with your significant other, mainly if you work in different fields. Find new topics to discuss; simple website searches pull up tons of conversation starters.
If you put good effort into having conversations beyond the everyday monotony, it will keep things fresh within your relationship.
While this could be referring to religious ideas and beliefs, it also means something way more profound, such as sharing actual beliefs and values. Your values and beliefs could align with religion or even general health and wellness. Regardless, it is necessary to share these vital aspects of your life with your partner.
This could also be an opportunity for you and your partner to talk about what role you exactly want spirituality to play in your lives if you have a family.
Methods to form intimacy
Not an issue of how long you two have been together, it is always important to develop your intimacy levels. Here are certain simple, practical methods to enhance and expand your levels of intimacy in your relationship:
If you are not in the mood or are extremely exhausted from having sex or even talking, cuddle on the couch.
Plan for a trip to a place neither of you has earlier been to. It is fun to experience new things for the first time.
Keep aside the gadgets even if it is only during a meal or while you and your partner watch a show together. Rather, make certain to do this if your partner is talking to you about their day or a specific experience.
While listening to your partner, make yourself completely emotionally present to them. If you at all cannot manage to do this when they are talking to you, calmly explain your case why and then set aside a specific time in the future to listen to what they have to say.
Send each other articles so that both of you can have fun and something new to discuss. This also assists in building intellectual intimacy, and it could provide you a much-required mental break if you have kids, or a caregiver to another loved one in the extended family.
If you have ever been the victim of infidelity, the first thing you probably asked was, “why?” The outcomes of infidelity are numerous, and it is just natural to seek to know why your partner opts to cheat, even if knowing why does not bring you any relief. There might be any number of reasons, and there are several kinds of infidelity and cheating that could shed some light on those reasons, opines Shivani.
Infidelity, or cheating, is an act of being unfaithful to your partner. It usually, means engaging in sexual or romantic relations with another person other than his or her significant other, damaging a commitment or promise in the act.
Each instance of infidelity is different and fulfills a distinct need. Even though knowing why a partner cheated probably would not lessen any pain or anger you feel, being capable to rationalize the behavior and define it will allay some confusion. It could also help you feel more confident in terms of how to move forward from the situation, whether that means working on healing your relationship or moving on or should you decide to split up.
Opportunistic infidelity happens when one person is in love and attached to their partner, but succumbs to their sexual urge and desire for someone else. Generally, this sort of cheating is driven through situational circumstances or opportunity, risk-taking conduct. Shivani says not every act of infidelity is premeditated and forced by dissatisfaction with a current relationship. Perhaps, two individuals were drinking or in some other manner thrown into an opportunity they never anticipated.
Post the fact, the more in love a person is with their significant other, the more guilt they will feel as a result of their physical encounter. However, feelings of guilt seem to fade as the fear of being caught abates.
This sort of infidelity is formed on the fear that resisting someone’s sexual advances will have an outcome in rejection. People might have feelings of sexual longing, love, and attachment for a partner, but still, end up cheating since they have a strong requirement for approval. Also, their need for approval could cause them to act in a manner that is at odds compared to their other feelings. In simple words, some people cheat, not due to the fact they want to cheat, but because they require the approval that comes besides having the attention of others.
This kind of infidelity happens when a person is in a committed relationship but has no feelings for their other half. There is no sexual desire, love, or attachment, just a sense of obligation to keep the couple together. Lacking love and lacking commitment to a present romantic partner are both linked to general feelings of relationship dissatisfaction.
These kinds of people justify cheating by telling themselves they have every right to look for what they are not availing of in their present relationship. Unfulfilled sexual needs could easily come into play here. Perhaps, in their established relationship, individuals are not engaging in the frequency of sex, the pattern of sex, or certain sexual behaviors that they aspire to. This could contribute to their logic to cheat.
At times (but not always) a deficit in a present relationship leads people to have extradyadic affairs. This sort of infidelity happens when the cheater has a small emotional attachment to their partner. They might be committed to their marriage and making it work, but they desire an intimate, loving connection with someone else.
More than possibly, their commitment to the marriage will stop them from ever leaving their spouse. Romantic infidelity means agony for the other man or woman and the cheating partner, rarely does it go into a long-term, committed relationship. Marital issues have to be quite severe prior to a spouse will leave the marriage for another individual.
Conflicted Romantic Infidelity
This happens when people experience true love and sexual desire for more than one individual at a time. Despite the idealistic notion of having just one true love, it is possible to feel intense romantic love for several people at the same time. While such scenarios are emotionally possible, they are quite complicated and seem to create plenty of anxiety and stress. In this scenario, cheating partners, in their effort not to cause anyone harm, mostly end up hurting everyone.
What to do after being cheated on
Now that whatever confusion you have hopefully been assuaged, it is up to you to decide what kind of steps to take next. Several marriages and relationships can survive infidelity, but whether or not yours will survive depends on what sort of infidelity took place and how much work you are both willing to put in. It is simply common sense to know that an opportunistic or a habitual cheater will cheat irrespective of how many times their cheating has been discovered and forgiven. Having said that any other reasons why your partner cheated do not mean they would not cheat again, so bear that in mind while deciding what steps to take next.
Hardly a couple of years went into their marriage when Avantika and Rohan (not real names) were thinking about getting a divorce. Avantika was pondering where she went wrong. She analysed back the last couple of years of her marital life and the destruction of her first marriage and then how she met another man named Vishal (name changed) after some time post her divorce. Like Avantika, Vishal too was divorced and they found comfort and distraction both in each other’s company, which eventually turned into likeliness for each other.
Then, suddenly Avantika was feeling as if she had moved on too quickly, and more importantly, has she been able to completely heal from her last broken relationship prior to jumping into the next.
She posed a question to her and also to me when she came for the counseling, says Shivani Sadhoo. The question was “does she completely need to heal before initiating a new relationship”?
The process of grief and healing
Shivani says first, one needs to delve deeper into the question. What do you mean by healing? Does anyone ever “fully” heal? How can one know when they are ready to begin again?
Grief is a cluster of emotions one experiences when one loses someone with whom they had emotional attachments. The feelings one has when grieving is usual, but the majority of the time, they are unpleasant. People look to want them to go away. What requires to be understood though is that these feelings have a reason. Sadness assists you to step away from others and see inward. It presents you with time to analyze yourself and come to realities with your own responsibilities and mistakes. It lends you time to think about the future you wish for and to gradually take steps forward.
There are other feelings while you grieve. Anger is a potent emotion that helps one make changes, but it mostly becomes a source of bonding that could cause problems. Grieving people could join with one another in a relationship formed on their anger at their ex-partners and rapidly bond over that commonality. These relationships may grow fast and feel very powerful, but they require much more than simply shared anger as a basis.
William Worden in his book “Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy” talks of recovery as a four-step First, you should accept the reality of the loss and start to see the opportunities for a new future. Secondly, one needs to feel the feelings of loss. This is the step majorly avoided but it is necessary. Third, you should adjust to the facts of life without the other. The fourth process is letting go of the lost partner and searching for a new, meaningful relationship. These new relationships may be romantic or they could be something else.
How much time does it take? People attempt to put a time frame on this procedure, but it’s difficult to measure things in that manner. You might never feel “totally healed.” If you wait for that, you might never move ahead. How do you get to know you are healed enough? When are you actually ready? When the feelings of sadness and loss start to lift when one is alone with their thoughts, and their imagination begins accepting thoughts of a brighter future… one is starting to get there.
Family habits are a lot more than just an activity practiced at home to create a healthy family. It is a manner of life that brings the complete family together and boosts the eternal bond of love and support shared by every member of the clan.
Shivani says early childhood is the perfect time to instill healthy family habits in your child because they are more likely to grow into it and stay in the pink of health in their later years.
Let us take a look at the healthy habits that promote a healthy family and support shaping the future of the child.
Have at least one meal together
Sitting together as a family and having a meal is one of the major healthy habits practiced by a healthy family that has a remarkable impact on children. It presents them a sense of belonging when every family member shares stories of what is happening in their lives over small conversations filled with laughter and smiles.
For example, talking to your children about what is happening at your workplace or the list of things you require to do prior to their grandparents’ visit tomorrow provides them an insight into how healthy households function and molds them for the future. It is also a good way to get to know more about what is happening at school and look out for any signs of bullying or child abuse.
Allocate a minimum of 30 minutes toward fitness
This is another part of a healthy family habit to encourage your kids to spend time playing outdoors to make sure they are fit and active since daily exercise and healthy families are synchronized with each other. It also adds up as quality time to bond with your kid.
You can either go for a fitness activity such as yoga and aerobics or go in for a sporty thing like running in the park and swimming. You can also think of going for cricket coaching classes or taking basketball lessons together, to learn sports and stay fit at the same time.
Set a schedule apart to play
Kids love playtime. Whether it is a fun board game with your teens or something as simple as building blocks with your tiny ones, playtime is great to forget your worries and pay attention to what really matters – your kids and also a part of a healthy family habit. No matter how frequently you shower your little ones with toys, clothes, gifts, and other materialistic things, the sole thing that matters to them is your time.
You can also think out of the box and indulge in other fun activities such as gardening and connecting with nature. This healthy family habit also acts backward, as children are teachers too, this is a brilliant way to disconnect from your monotonous routine and connect with your child.
Have a no gadget zone
In the present day’s digital age, it is not an uncommon sight to see a screen between a parent and a child. Kids have become so accustomed to digital gadgets that they mostly find solace in watching a cartoon online or playing a game, which is not a good sign. To end this habit, and transform it into a healthy habit, consider having a no-gadget zone in your home. For instance, you can make your dining room a no-phone, no laptop zone so your family is able to enjoy uninterrupted meals together. However, this rule applies to parents too, as actions speak louder than words.
Maintain a bedtime routine
Reading a story to your child each night is one of the finest practices regarding healthy habits, and it can be more advantageous than you can imagine. Not just will it encourage them to read, open up a whole world of imagination, trigger their writing talent and form their listening skills, but it will also assist them to find comfort in the tone of your voice and the warmth of your hug. Furthermore, the healthy family habit of reading to your child will bring in a consistent bedtime routine, and help them fall asleep faster and have better sleep.
Plan your weekends in advance
Weekends and family time have always walked hand-in-hand. Let your family be aware of your plans or begin a discussion on what can be done, so your kids will look forward to every weekend with excitement. It is a manner of showing your commitment to a healthy family and sends out the message that even you are equally excited to spend your free time with them.
The plans are not needed to be too extravagant. You can go for simple and fun activities for kids like going to the beach and indulging in some delicious street food or taking them to the latest animated movies of their choice. However, give your best to stick to the plans made, as a broken promise might lead to a broken heart.
Have a look at their nutrition
No list of healthy family habits is fulfilled without the benefits of nutritious food. Encouraging your kids to have a nutritious diet is one of the cornerstones of good parenting. Rather than forcing your kids to eat their vegetables, make them aware of the nutritional benefits they offer. For instance, ask them to eat more carrots for a healthy vision or drink milk for stronger bones.
In this manner, they will know why they are asked to do it and will make it a part of life, rather than something to do simply because you said so. You can also encourage your kids to help out in the kitchen and cook up a storm with simple recipes, so they come to know the nutritional value of what they eat.
Eventually, it all comes down to you being the role model for your kids. Forming healthy lifestyle habits to encourage an active lifestyle for kids involves you altering your way of life too. Thus, it is essential to practice what you preach and be the one you want your child to become.