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Are you a Relationship Master?

By Anneliese Alexander, Marriage and Relationship Educator

Anneliese Alexander, Marriage and Relationship Educator shares 5 ways to become a Relationship Master

It’s that time of year again when our concept of love seems wrapped up in how big the teddy bear is or how colourful the bunch of flowers are.

As teenagers, Valentine’s Day brings out the possibility of a secret lover revealing their true feelings, and early relationships make much of how they spend the day (or how much they spend ON the day)! But for many couples who have made permanent, committed relationships with each other, Valentine’s Day is just another day to share with their love.

While romance is good and can spice up your relationship, it is certainly not an activity that should be limited to one day per year. Research shows that it is in the everyday moments where love blooms. In the kiss when you get home, listening to how your day was and knowing about what is happening in your life, the gratitude expressed when you take out the rubbish, the touch of your shoulder and smile as they walk past, and the cup of tea made for you in the morning. These daily behaviours speak volumes, compared to one-off grand gestures often seen on Valentine’s Day.

As a Marriage and Relationship Educator, I frequently work with couples who are preparing for marriage. These couples are often “loved up” and cannot imagine their relationship ever running into difficulty. While these typical early relationship behaviours have been found to increase relationship satisfaction, couples who are able to maintain them throughout their relationship are referred to as “Masters” by relationship researcher Dr John Gottman. Relationship Masters report having happier and healthier relationships throughout their lifespan.

5 Ways to become a Relationship Master

  1. Ask questions – your partner wants to feel seen. The best way to do this is to be curious about them, and to really listen to the answers. Every answer gives you information that helps you to better understand them, what makes them tick, and how they want to be loved.
  2. Share Fondness – what qualities do you love about your partner? When you see it, tell them! Feeling appreciated will help your partner to see their value in the relationship.
  3. Put down the phone – if your attention is divided away from your partner more often than not, they will feel ignored and unloved. Agree on rules with your partner about when screen time is OK and when you want to focus on each other.
  4. Respond – when your partner is seeking connection, respond in the way you think they are looking for. Even a laugh can be a bid for connection. Every time you respond positively, your partner will feel better about your relationship.
  5. Manage conflict – conflict requires a commitment on both sides to really listen to the other. You may not agree with your partner but let them know you understand them. Avoid getting defensive or trying to find something wrong with them. Apologise when you need to, and find a mutually agreed compromise when necessary.

The relationship we have with our spouse is the most important relationship we will have in our life. Investing time and energy into it will ensure it can be successful for a lifetime. Daily behaviours are just one way to invest in your relationship, however, every couple can benefit from attending relationship education courses, no matter how long you have been together. Our Marriage and Relationship Educators are experienced at working with couples around effective relationship communication and conflict, as well as family of origin issues, financial management, intimacy and parenting. Committing to improving your marriage is the best investment you can make for yourself, your marriage and your children.

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About the Author

Anneliese Alexander CatholicCare SydneyAnneliese Alexander is a marriage and relationship educator at CatholicCare Sydney.

Leaning on evidence-based research and 11 years of professional experience, Anneliese and her team work to support our community to establish and nurture positive relationships in life.