When a couple divorces, the first question that is always asked is, “What went wrong?” However, in my 12 years as a dating and relationship coach, I have found that it’s rarely about what happened throughout the course of the relationship but often more about the foundation upon which the relationship was built.
The couples on A Question of Love have been given an opportunity to identify the cracks in their relationship foundation while there is still time to make change.
These 4 relationship secrets are the building blocks of a healthy relationship and the questions in the show relate to these factors and identify the areas in which the couples need to fortify their relationships.
1. Trust – This is the foundation upon which all healthy relationships are built. However, trust is one of the hardest things to earn from a partner and one of the most difficult things to rebuild if its been challenged.
TIP – The best way to build trust with a partner is to consistently match your actions to your words. Start with the small stuff: saying that you’ll take out the trash and then actually doing it. Then you can work up to bigger commitments.
THE COUPLE – This is the #1 issue for Emily and Andrew as he works through his challenges with addiction.
2. Communication – If you and your partner don’t know how to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts, you’re going to have a very tumultuous and stressful relationship. Luckily, communication skills can actually be learned and improved, so if you’re committed to being a better listener and expressing yourself as clearly as possible, you can overcome a lot of bigger relationship obstacles.
TIP – There are different ways that people give and receive love. Don’t assume that your partner doesn’t care about you. Make an effort to understand their communication style. A great resources is Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages which will help you determine whether you feel love through receiving gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time or acts of service.
THE COUPLE – Of the 3 couples, this issue effects Ish and Amanda the most. Ish came into this experiment unaware of how his verbal criticism of Amanda was effecting her and Amanda had to push herself to share her feelings and not to shut down.
3. Common Goals for the Future – If you and your partner want to be headed towards a future together, you have to make sure you’re both traveling on the same track. You don’t need to share the same personal goals, however, you should share the same collective goals. For example, you might be a Type A go-getter. You don’t necessarily need a partner that matches your drive. You might need a partner who is willing to take care of the home who supports you to achieve your professional goals.
TIP – Write a narrative about your future life together. Talk about where you hope to be in 5 years, 10 years, 50 years and how you see your partner as a part of that vision.
THE COUPLE – Nicky and Jamie are working through this element on the show. Being an independent person, Nicky struggles with adapting her view of the future to include Jamie.
4. Shared Values – Your value system has to do with how you see the world. Your upbringing and life experiences help shape this but usually, by the time you’re ready for a relationship, those values are more or less fixed. This means that if you are your partner are on completely different sides of major issues or if you have different views on religion and the role of that faith in your life, you might come to an impasse. Try to identify your partner’s values early on in the relationship and don’t ignore a major value mismatch because those differences are likely to amplify over time.
TIP – Try a question of love experiment of your own at home by writing down questions around your own value system for your partner to answer.
Has “A Question of Love” illuminated the challenges in your own relationship? Damona Hoffman’s Relationship Bootcamp can give you and your partner butterflies again. Take the course for free at DamonaHoffman.com