Relationships are tricky “things”; some are solid, some are shaky. When people talk of their relationship, many people might immediately think of their primary, Significant Other relationship. This is very important and there are guidelines and behaviors that help make this a very vital, valuable part of life. From respecting each other’s rights to sharing important personal information, and from being honest to allowing deep emotional connection, it can be difficult to keep the relationship healthy and strong. There is a standard developmental track that many, possibly most, Significant Other relationships follow; from the initial Limerance to a more mature and interdependent life arrangement. When a Significant Other relationship unravels or is no longer positive, it is often due to not adequately negotiating one of the developmental stage changes.
Other relationships are important, too. If we take time to consider all of life and strive to see things through different lenses – for the best life, it is important to have a great relationship with oneself, and with relatives, with co-workers, and with all of nature.
Most people come in for help with their family or Significant Other relationships. It is important to find a psychologist or therapist who can communicate with you in a satisfactory way, and who you can trust. Research bears out that the best therapeutic benefits result when clients feel they are able to communicate well with the psychologist, feel heard, and can trust the person.
As far as techniques or approaches go, there are different approaches that can help relationships. Some are more emotionally based, some focus more on behavior. And, couple or family therapy is different than individual therapy, in that one person is not the “client”; it is the relationship that is valued as of the utmost importance. I have found a set of 12 Basic Personal Rights over the years that are very important to respect within close relationships.
In relationship therapy, it is important to assess what is positive and what is weak in the relationship and work with the people involved to help grow a healthy relationship. Skills can be learned to nurture and strengthen a relationship. Effective relationship couple therapy usually ends up with neither person taking over, but with a more equal and respectful give & take, a positive view of the future, and a commitment to keep the relationship alive and growing. I like to think of it as neither person “winning”; it is the energy, the life, in the relationship that improves, is healthy – so that in the end, both people win.