Biologically, we get into major relationships for reasons of personal survival. Research shows that we live longer, healthier lives when we have a loving partner in our lives. We feel less pain and anxiety when our partner is in our presence.
With a strong bond to our partner, we feel a sense of safety and security.
To find out if your bonds are strong ask yourself the following three questions:
1. Is My Partner Available?
To maintain love, you need to be able to reach out to one another. If it feels like your partner is constantly distant, you will lose trust in the relationship and may eventually start looking elsewhere for compassion and support.
Being available usually means being in the same room or the same house together for certain periods of time. This proximity requirement for love to flourish is why long distance relationships take extra work.
Of course, you can't always be in the same place together, but you still need to know your partner is available. Think of the role love letters used to play in romance before the internet was invented.
Phone, text, Facetime, and other technologies can make you sense your parter is available, even if you can't physically touch.
Contact with our partner is critical to maintaining a relationship. We can't feel secure or safe with someone who is never around.
2. Is My Partner Responsive?
Perhaps you are frequently near your partner or you know it's easy to call or email each other, but there's another important element to a successful relationship.
You need to know your partner will respond to you.
When you ask your spouse a question, you want to know that he is going to hear your question and give an answer. If you need help, you want to know that she is going to hear your request and at least try to be there for you.
If you text your boyfriend during the day and you don't get responses, you might start to feel angry or discouraged. Without responsiveness, the relationship can feel one sided or you might feel unappreciated.
When you're partner responds to you, it sends a message that he or she is a reliable person to turn to, and your sense of safety and security will increase.
3. Is My Partner Engaged?
When your partner is engaged in the relationship, you know you are important to him or her.
An engaged partner will not only answer your questions, but will turn to look at you or come sit next to you when you are talking.
A proactive approach can also let you know your spouse is fully engaged in the relationship.
Think of when you came home and in addition to a hug, your husband remembered to ask how your interview went that day. Think of how good it feels when your partner shares an article, movie, or something related to a topic she knows you're interested in.
A non-engaged partner answers our questions, but doesn't seem enthused about being around. It might feel like your troubling him just by asking a question.
Another sign of non-engagement are couples who sit at home in the evening, but don't interact with one another or share intimate moments together.
It's critical to feel that you are important and a priority in your partner's life. When we feel important we can relax, share, and be open.
What If I Answered No To One Or More Of These Questions?
If you answered no to one or more of these questions, you are probably not feeling satisfied in your relationship. You might be feeling lonely or you might be angry. You might sense your relationship isn't all that it could be.
"No" answers are a sign that your relationship may need some help.
Fortunately, there are schools of couples counseling that are designed to specifically address these three big questions.
In couples counseling we aim to create moments of connection. My goal in counseling is for you and your partner to experience one another as accessible, responsive, and engaged.
With guidance, you can find ways to reconnect with one another and come to see one another as an ally. You can be a place of safety and security for each other.
If you're ready to work on your relationship, or if you have questions, you can click the button below to contact me. I'd be happy to discuss how I can be of help to you.