By: Richard Nicastro, Ph.D.
You often hear struggling
athletes say that they have to "go back to basics." After years of
repetition, it's easy to lose sight of the fundamentals they need to
stay on top of their game. Often they need an outsider's perspective
(i.e., a coach) to help them determine which fundamentals they've
Many couples fall into the same trap. There are many reasons why
relationships lose their footing, but often couples who end up in
trouble lose sight of certain relationship basics. And once those
basics are forgotten, a formerly-solid relationship is at risk for
spiraling out of control.
Let's take a brief look at some relationship basics. Some of these
might sound familiar to you; to keep your relationship healthy, it's
often not a matter of learning new things but holding onto
Relationship Basics: The 7 C's
Commitment is about hanging in there, for the good times and the
bad. Commitment lets your partner know that you are serious about
the relationship; it's the foundation that allows trust to develop
and intimacy to flourish. Most importantly, commitment allows you to
place the relationship above your own needs at times.
You don't have to become a chatterbox to effectively communicate.
Simply check in with each other once in a while. Find out if the
relationship is working for your partner by asking questions like:
"How are things between us? Is there something you need from me that
you're not getting?" When couples stop communicating, they become
roommates instead of soulmates and might ultimately get their needs
The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people
halfway. ~Henry Boye
Relationships, even the very best of them, are complicated and often
challenging. Couples who know how to get through the rough patches
and still have fulfilling unions know how to compromise. A
competitive, "I need to be right" attitude is the death knell to
compromise. Practice give and take, and learn how to meet each other
Intimacy is all about connection: emotional, physical and for some,
spiritual. When you show your partner that you are committed, and
that you are working on becoming an effective communicator who is
willing to compromise, the basis for a deep connection has already
been set. Discover what makes your partner feel close to you and
communicate what you need in order to feel close to him/her. Not all
roads to connection are the same—become aware of and respect these
To be in a rewarding relationship you have to contribute something.
What do you need to bring to the relationship table? You have to
bring yourself to the relationship. Intimate relationships involve
risk and vulnerability, and often couples begin to hide emotionally
from each other when the relationship doesn't proceed smoothly. This
was evident with a couple I coached: The husband was somewhat
subdued with his wife but was "the life of the party with his
friends and other couples." He stopped bringing his sense of humor
and capacity for joy to his wife after five years of marriage. How
do you contribute to your relationship?
Whenever I interview couples who've been together for some time and
are content with their relationship, one thing continually stands
out as important for these successful couples: They are great
friends and they like each other. Frequently, couples forget to
nurture this part of their relationship and the cost for this
omission is substantial. Friends often have similar interests and
engage in enjoyable activities together. Do you and your partner
make a conscious effort to play together?
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can
see. ~Mark Twain
Compassion is the ability to listen deeply and show sympathy and
understanding to your partner. Couples who practice compassion and
kindness continuously feed love and send each other vital messages
of caring. You would think that it's easy for couples to shower each
other with compassion, but this isn't always the case. So often
couples begin to take one another for granted and stop behaving in
ways that demonstrate unsolicited kindness. As one husband recently
said, "With all the stress I'm under, I don't have the luxury of
always being compassionate…" The assumption that you need heaps of
time or that you need to be in the "right place" in your life in
order to show compassion to others is not only incorrect, it's a
dangerous assumption. Make compassion a necessity in your
relationship, not a luxury. Weave it into the small acts of your
daily life and you won't even need to create extra time for it.
While there are other important elements that go into creating a
healthy marriage or relationship, periodically re-visiting these
seven basics will give your relationship the tune-up it needs to
stay vibrant and strong for years to come. For added benefit, review
these with your partner and see what your relationship strengths are
and areas that might need some extra attention.
To discover ways to create a
deeper, more intimate relationship visit
http://StrengthenYourRelationship.com/ and sign up for Dr.
Nicastro's free Relationship Toolbox Newsletter.
As a bonus, you will receive the popular free reports: "The four
mindsets that can topple your relationship" and "Relationship
self-defense: Control the way you argue…before your arguments
Richard Nicastro, Ph.D. is a psychologist and relationship coach who
is passionate about helping couples protect the sanctuary of their
relationship. Rich and his wife Lucia founded LifeTalk Coaching, an
internet-based coaching business that helps couples strengthen their