Over the past 4 years I've helped women get their marriages and relationships back on track, navigated women through the trauma of divorce (and the aftermath), healed the wounds of infidelity and championed women to find new love.
I've learned a lot from their stories.
I've learned that there is no handbook or manual that comes with marriage and relationships, we learn from our experiences, and I've had an insight into some of that experience. Here's my take on what makes a happy relationship.
Most relationship problems stem from our loved ones wanting us to 'be' or 'act' differently. That we are flawed or not good enough in some way. This creates a feeling of rejection & inadequacy and there is always a price to pay. Sometimes that price is trust, intimacy, connection but in my experience is always almost resentment.
Resentment is the single most thing that's sure to suck the life out of any relationship.
And then there's contempt.
The eye rolling kind.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of an eye rolling partner?
It's harmful in a relationship because of what it indicates - it's a huge flashing sign that your partner doesn't value or respect you. It's an act of hostility.
Respect for each other, rather than contempt, is the stuff that helps relationships grow, creating a sense of bond, of connection and of love.
Feeling listened to
Listening, and I mean really listening, is the single most way women feel loved - we need to be listened to and we need to be heard. One of the most sincere forms of respect is your loved one actually listening to what you have to say - not walking away, not simultaneously listening and doing something else.
Listening is the art of connecting with your loved one, so you fully understand what they are saying and feeling. It is such a vital and necessary skill needed in creating and maintaining a happy and strong relationship, yet it is so often neglected in so many relationships.
When your loved one listens to you and you feel understood, you are much more likely to trust and therefore much more likely to want to be intimate.
The healthiest and strongest relationships are those where you feel like you are a team - you can take on the world together, you always have each others back and you encourage each other to be the best version you can possibly be of yourselves.
A supportive loved one will challenge you, stand beside you when you need them, and will give you the space you need to grow as a person.
They will never judge you or put constraints on you or your dreams.
It's 'Team Us' all the way.
Intimacy, sex and connection are always the first things to take a hit when you're not feeling accepted, listened to or supported, and more often than not, are the first things women disconnect from when they aren't feeling accepted, listened to or supported.
And it's not hard to understand why women withdraw, and have withdrawn for many months and years.
Why would you want to connect on a physical level with someone who doesn't make you feel accepted, listened to or supported?
Intimacy, sex and connection work on so many levels, and look different for everyone. It also changes and evolves over time, just as your relationship grows and evolves over time.
What I do know however, is that connection goes hand in hand with acceptance, feeling listened to and feeling supported. Very often focusing on improving those areas in your relationship is the route back to re-connection.
Good relationships don't just happen.
They take time, patience, nurture, respect and two people who truly want to be together. They are founded on love - total, complete, unconditional love. Feeling accepted, listened to, supported and connected are the firm foundations which will nurture and grow that love into the best kind of love you will ever experience.
Invest in your relationship, accept that your relationship will need to be adaptable, flexible and able to evolve over time and keep working on it!
Catherine Asta Labbett, is an award winning Female Focused Psychotherapist. She works with women all over the world offering skype and in person therapy from her Yorkshire clinic base, and in 2019 was awarded a Fellow from the National Council Psychotherapists for her outstanding contribution to her profession.
Catherine works with women at all stages of their life and has also has a growing celebrity client base. The resident expert on the BBC Radio Leeds award winning Stephanie Hirst show and a regular contributor in the media - as heard and seen on BBC Radio 5 LIVE, Grazia, Marie Claire, Women's Health Magazine, Boots, Virgin and more.
Catherine was the winner of the Northern Blog Awards 2018 'One to Watch' and a finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2019. She is a finalist for 'Mentor of the Year' 2019 with Forward Ladies and was voted in the Top 10 extraordinary women in the 2019 Knomo London Awards.
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