Are we there yet? I’ve heard this refrain from many of the couples that I’ve worked with over the years. The process of therapy can be uncomfortable, and they want to know how many more “miles” they must go before they get there. But what is “there”? What does a healthy, happy relationship look like to each partner? I often use the metaphor of a road trip. If you have not discussed your destination, one of you will pack scuba gear and the other a parka. Relationships need destinations as well. What are your goals, what do you want your relationship to look like? That is an important question that I ask each of my couples when we first meet.
As relational beings, we all have a fundamental need to belong, to feel secure, and to feel protected from fear. Relationship is the bond that provides us with feelings of emotional protection and safety. Most of us have a natural inclination to make and maintain lasting attachments when we are in relationship. And once established, our sense of security and stability within our relationship is closely linked to our emotional health and well-being.
A healthy relationship offers a nice balance between security and supportiveness. When we feel secure in a relationship, we experience a sense of deep relief and a feeling of well-being because we know we are loved for being who we are. We know that someone has our back which allows us to step out into the world to manage the bumps that we’ll inevitably encounter in our lives both individually and in our relationship.
When we feel secure in a relationship, we feel safe enough to:
- Give and receive love
- Reach for our partner when we feel frightened or insecure
- Count on our partner to support our forays out into the world
- Take risks and feel confident about facing the challenges of daily life
- Tell our partner that we miss them when they are not near
Take stock of your relationship: How secure do you feel? Is your partner a safe harbor for you when you feel frightened? Can you always be yourself? Does your partner try to change you, judge you, or criticize you?
If you would like to create a deeper bond with your partner, please try the following:
8 Tips to Create a More Secure Relationship
- Know your own deepest needs and fears
- Be curious or inquisitive about what your partners needs, and fears are
- Help your partner to meet your needs in a loving way and have them help you to do the same for them
- Engage in a joint exploration of the difficult and painful events in life
- Learn to trust that your partner will support you, rather than try to change you or judge you
- Rely on your partner when the occasion warrants
- Pick up on your partner’s non-verbal cues to understand what they are feeling
- Create wonderful rituals of engagement where you enjoy each other’s company.
Imagine a world in which we reached out whenever we needed help or support because we could trust that someone would be there for us. Strong, connected relationships are important not only for our own well-being, but also for the health of our children and the society in which we live.
As we develop the ability to care for ourselves and our partners, we can then reach out further to heal pieces of the community in which we live and the world at large. When we feel secure and confident in our relationships, we cultivate the strength and desire to care for others and help them build a secure environment in which they, too, can thrive.