With the start of a new year comes new beginnings, hopes and aspirations. This is the perfect time to reflect and set out some New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes these resolutions are about improving ourselves physically — hence why the gym always seems to be overcrowded in January! Sometimes our goals are to become more successful in our careers. Maybe earn more money?
As a family law lawyer, I can’t help but think about how we can improve our relationships with our loved ones, whether it is a spouse, sibling or even a friend. I often hear my clients talk about the relationship breakdown and what they feel contributed to the ultimate demise. Here are some of the more common themes I have heard:
1. It was too late for help
A very experienced family counselor who I once had the pleasure of working with told me that counseling is a tool for prevention, not the cure. Many of my clients mentioned they attended a few counseling sessions with their partner towards the end of the relationship. While this is still likely better than nothing, unfortunately at that stage it is often too late. Rather, seeing a relationship counselor when the issues first flare up can help extinguish the fire before the house burns down.
2. Lack of communication
Not to point out the obvious, but we are each complex and individual beings with different ways ofcommunicating our thoughts and feelings. That’s okay. However, trouble starts brewing when two people are unwilling to find a method of communication that suits their relationship. It’s not surprising that relationships break down when the parties are unable to communicate the problem to begin with.
3. Lack of quality time
This really applies to any type of relationship. I like to hope that if you show up in your relationship, the other person will do the same. Making time for each other and spending quality time together will strengthen your connection. It allows you to create a bond outside of mundane daily activities. In many of my files it became evident very quickly that the parties stopped prioritizing one another. Life just got in the way, as is often the case.
None of this is to say that all relationship woes fit within this narrow scope. If there is one thing I have learned it is that all relationships are unique and context is key. But what better time than now to start reflecting on our relationships and how we would like to improve them this year.
Here’s to a new year and new beginnings!