Sarah Barr from the New Beginnings Counselling Service shares advice on how to keep a healthy relationship strong.

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction”- Antoine de Saint-Expupery.

A starry-eyed, swept of your feet romance is what we may dream off. However, in reality, all that breathless passion doesn’t always lead to a happy and stable relationship. Once the ‘honeymoon’ period is over, the rose-tinted glasses come off and we have a real-life, grown-up relationship.

The love, the friendship and the respect may not be the main fuel to keep our relationship going.

We need to compromise, sacrifice, share and work.

“Happy relationships just don’t happen. You make them happen”.

Human love is an evolutionary process. When we experience feeling loved our brain and nervous system become more relaxed and we feel happier. Feeling loved is nature’s antidote to stress. Positive face-to-face communication with someone that makes us feel understood, safe and valued is one of the best remedies for tackling stress.

Falling in love is often an experience that just happens, but preserving the “falling in love” experience takes commitment and effort. Given the rewards, it’s well worth the effort.

“How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet
“You don’t spell it…you feel it.” – Pooh
― A.A. Milne

An engaging, secure and loving relationship can be an ongoing source of support and happiness. Good relationships strengthen all aspects of our life, our health, our mind, and work. Relationships can get better or worse depending on how much or how little we understand and invest in them.

These tips can help keep a healthy relationship strong.

1. Appreciate

Appreciation is one of the keys to building healthy relationships and it is never too late to appreciate each other. Appreciation can help bring out the greatness and potential of any relationship and re-ignite the love that is there.

  • Giving eye contact and paying full attention when they are talking shows your appreciation.
  • Saying thank you for the little things is important.
  • Appreciate what you both contribute in the relationship and share this with each other regularly.
  • Why not express what you love about your partner – their unique qualities.
  • Really appreciate and express your love for each other.


2. Listen

Communications problems are one of the main areas for improvement in couples. Communication is not only about talking, it is about listening.

A good listener is someone who hears more than the words being spoken. They can pick up on the emotional overtones and undertones in what is being said.

People who listen make us feel understood and valued. A great deal of emphasis is placed on talking but if you can learn to listen your partner will value being with you.


3. Ask for help

People often believe that relationship counselling is only given when a relationship is in serious trouble. This is not the case.

Counselling for couples can help strengthen your relationship.

Sometimes problems in a relationship may seem too complex or overwhelming for a couple to handle on their own. In that case, it’s important to reach out together for help. There are a number of options available.

Couples counselling~ Is an investment in time, energy and commitment. Both people need to be willing and able to honestly communicate what they need, face the issues that arise in counselling and then make the necessary changes together.

Local relationship organisations are: Accord and Relate

Individual counselling ~ Sometimes one person may need specialised help. For example: someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one may need counselling to help process their grief. If your loved one needs help, don’t feel like you are a failure for not providing everything they need.

Local organisation: New Beginnings Counselling.


4. What makes you happy in the relationship?

Common interests, values, shared fun and friendship are what makes your relationship unique.

Ask yourself what makes your relationship special? What did you both enjoy doing together in the past?

A nice idea is to create a Date Night Jar. Put in creative and easy date ideas. Pick an evening and an idea.


5. Change

It is believed that there is seven stages to a relationship. As I said relationships are an evolutionary process, they grow and develop.

These are:

  • The Honeymoon – lust, passion and fun!
  • The Leveling-Off – the relationship becomes comfortable, with partners meeting each others friends and families.
  • The Power Struggle  there may be power struggles, as each of you hold on to your independence. The struggle determines who holds on to the power, and who has the last word!
  • Interdependence   As you evolve together, there is a shared agreement on empowerment.
  • Renewing – Finally after years of dealing with careers, finances and possibly parenting you begin to have more time for each other. Friendships can be renewed, as well as the passion which brought you both together in the first place.
  • Turbulence –This can happen at any time in a relationship, when there are significant health, financial, family or relationship issues.
  • The Golden Years – Stability and security are prominent at this stage, while you both spend time together enjoying each other’s company.

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate your love and to appreciate your partner.

Wishing you all love ~ Sarah

New Beginnings Counselling.