Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and I had the opportunity to chat with Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Dr. Keisha Downey. You know Dr. Downey as a Resident Counselor at the Couples Center on the VH1 reality television show, Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn Mann. She wanted me to share a few tips to a healthy relationship in 2016.
Dr. Downey says one of the main issues couples have in relationships is that they don’t know how to communicate. Well that’s an age-old problem that we’ve heard before. So the question really becomes, “How can we learn to communicate better?”
Tip 1: Women, her advice to you is to, “Let the man, be the man,” she says. Often times, women are very independent and so used to taking care of things themselves; that when they begin a new relationship, they tend to struggle with letting their partner protect or provide for them, and more importantly, take care of things that can affect them both. She also advises women not to belittle or try to be the man’s mother.
Tip 2: Men, respect your woman and value her opinion. Listen to her and learn to appreciate what she contributes to the relationship.
Tip 3: Speak up early about what you like and don’t like. If your partner has a personal habit that drives you crazy, say something in the beginning. That’s the time to assess if it’s something you can get used to or if they can adjust.
Tip 4: Be true and be yourself. It’s easy to go into a relationship with masks on and be guarded, because we all try to protect our hearts. This happens often, especially if a person hasn’t properly dealt with past hurts or disappointments from previous relationships. However, don’t forget to be your true self… Love yourself. In 2016, we cannot continue to hide behind fake profiles and act like someone that we’re not.
Tip 5: Be understanding. Approach your relationships this year with open hearts and open minds to get a clear understanding of your partner’s desires and aspirations.
Tip 6: Stimulate, connect, build and maintain. This can only come from talking and listening to each other. God gave us all two ears and one mouth; whereas we should strive to listen more than we speak. This is an essential part of healthy relationships.
Tip 7: Know your role. Many times, roles and expectations aren’t clear and the couple doesn’t have a defined outline of who’s supposed to be doing what in the relationship. Make sure to clarify roles and express what is expected from each other. Clarify wants and needs in order to build and maintain a healthy functioning relationship.
Dr. Downey also wanted to address singles as Valentine’s Day approaches. If you’re single and looking for love then she encourages you to be ready. In doing so, it’s important to be comfortable with yourself and ensure that you have yourself together so that you are in a position to attract the type of person and love you are looking for and want. If you are single and not ready to date or find love, know that being by yourself is okay. However, if you are feeling lonesome during the holiday, she suggests surrounding yourself with the love of family and friends.
Hopefully you can implement some of Dr. Downey’s tips in your relationships this year and keep you on the right track. The key factor seems to be communication and how to do it effectively and consistently to increase understanding of each other. Easier said than done, I know – but these tips should help you pave the way.