How to sustain a relationship

Relationships can be hard work. Like a fun game they often start off exciting and full of belly laughs but can fast become a bit tricky with one or both of you feeling a bit bent out of shape.

However, the good news is that by being aware that the initial thrill might wear off – and by having a mental checklist of some simple things you can do if and when that time comes – you can keep enjoying each other’s company long after the sun has set on the honeymoon period.

Yewande Biala and others give their advice

Relationship expert and Life Coach Anna Williamson says, “Relationships can be so much fun, full of passion and enjoyment. But after a while that heady, all-consuming feeling tends to taper off a little bit, often around the six-month mark. This is all perfectly normal but it’s where the hard work really starts in order to keep the relationship going and for you to keep moving forward as a couple.”

You’ve got to be in it to win it

Hardly anything worth having comes for free, so if you want your relationship to last and grow, you’ve got to be prepared to put in a bit of a graft. This year’s Love Island contestants have experienced this first hand: some couples have quite clearly put in the work to get through their tricky teething problems, and some have opted out. If you want the relationship to work, it’s never too late (or even too early) to put in some good, solid groundwork which will, hopefully, keep you in it for the long haul.

Anna’s top tips for keeping your relationship on track

1. Keep talking

Good communication is absolutely key to a lasting relationship, so make sure you keep telling your partner how you feel, what’s making you tick and what you’re worried about. But also remember to listen. Communication works both ways.

2. Make time and effort for each other

Making time for each other, and a bit of an effort when things get a boring, is so important. Schedule in a movie night, go for a spontaneous coffee or simply send a random message saying you’re thinking of them. A bit of effort goes a long way.

3. Put the devices down

Phones, devices and social media are all great, but they have a time and a place – and that shouldn’t be all the time and in every place if you want your relationship to survive. Schedule in a digital detox – or agree on a cut off period each night – when you put your phones and tablets away and enjoy each other’s company, rather than being distracted by social media.

4. Build up trust

Without trust it’s really difficult for any relationship to stand the test of time. When we have true trust, we have the solid foundations for every relationship. Keep talking, be honest and open. These things will help breed trust.

The grass isn’t always greener

Let’s face it, nearly every relationship can get a bit boring after a while. When you’re so used to being with someone, things can sometimes feel a bit stale and samey, and we can start to be complacent. But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side so before you chuck in the towel, ask yourself a few ‘quick fire’ questions. Reminding yourself of the answers to these key questions might clarify a few things for you.

Anna’s quick-fire five:

  • What got you together in the first place?
  • What do you still fancy about them?
  • How do they make you feel?
  • Do you love them?
  • Do you want to move on?

Where to find support

If you have concerns about your relationship, visit Relate for more information about relationships, and to message a counsellor for support.

It is always good to speak to someone you trust about the issues you might be facing, no matter how big or small. Although it can be hard talking about relationships, everyone finds them challenging at times, and if you are experiencing difficulties, don’t feel ashamed or different, and don’t feel you have to hide away from it.

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