Does Your Relationship Need A Makeover? By Clinical Psychologist, Smita Arora

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I know people who have been married for over 25-30 years – I believe that’s a long time to be with somebody. Over the course of a long-term partnership you get to discover many things about your partner, as well much more about yourself. I mean it’s a process of exploring both. And this exploration can be quite taxing. It would be easy if both the partners mutually work towards the longevity and harmony of this precious relationship. “Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all the others, voluntarily entered into for life” as defined by the Marriage Amendment Act 2004 (Austl.). And that’s why I say it has to be mutual.

There are 5 stages a typical marriage goes through:

  • Stage1: Romantic love
  • Stage 2: Reality
  • Stage 3: Transformation
  • Stage 4 : Mature love
  • Stage 5: Widowhood

During these five stages each partner may experience changes in:

  • Commitment
  • Passion and sex
  • Respect for each other
  • Hopes, dreams and expectations of each other
  • Amount of laughter
  • Time spent as a couple
  • Responsibilities
  • Work pressures
  • Health
  • Communication
  • Dealing with conflicts
  • Time issues
  • Finance
  • Expanding family and many more….

In 2013, there was 47,638 divorces granted in Australia, a decrease of 2,279 (4.6%) from the 49,917 divorces granted in 2012. However, clearly the figures still remain quite significant, and the reasons could relate to some or many of the factors mentioned above. Factors such as these can also lead to one or both partners looking outside of the marriage in order to have his/her needs met.

If you see at the figures, the people who actually wish to enter into the institution of marriage has also been falling. In 2013, there were 118,962 marriages registered in Australia, a decrease of 4,282 (3.5%) from the 123,244 marriages registered in 2012.

So, the key question is “How does one ideally manage the various challenges and changes over time that come hand in hand with marriage and long-term relationships??”


  • Talk to each other about anything that’s disturbing you, or that you find exciting, and you feel like sharing. To share your feelings and emotions is one of the best remedies for communication breakdown. Be brave with communication and don’t be afraid to speak from the heart.
  • Listen to what your partner is saying as well as being responsive through your facial expressions, vocal tone and body language. It is important that your partner should feel like he/she is being heard. In a way you are conveying that you respect the other person.
  • Stop defending yourself and start taking responsibility for your actions. Make a sincere apology if you have done anything to hurt your significant other, whether you understand why he/she feels hurt or not. This will help in building and maintaining the responsible version of you.
  • When discussing or arguing a point with your partner, avoid saying something in the heat of the moment that you regret later. It is always good to take some time out. Solve problems by looking at the bigger perspective of what influence you are having on the emotional connection between the two of you.
  • Offer a helping hand to each other, even when it comes to domestic chores- this allows the other person feel that you appreciate and recognize his/her efforts.
  • Make time for each other, a special dinner or date, and aim to surprise your partner. Get gifts and write romantic notes for each other from time to time, as this conveys that the other person is still special to you and defines you effort towards maintaining the connection.
  • Be appreciative of each other and do not take each other for granted. Remember the first time you met each other and the efforts it took for each of you to be with the other person. Talk about these events and special memories of the early connection between you both.
  • Show and tell your love as it keeps the spark in the relationship. Practise healthy flirting with your partner- I am sure you would love to see how your partner blushes.
  • Improve your sex life by exploring the sexual dreams and fantasies of your partner. Try being innovative about sex between you two. Tell each other about your likes and dislikes during sex and work together to make it a better experience each time.
  • Indulge in each other’s interests and be part of each other’s day to day life. Share the pressures and joys of work, leisure and family life.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with work, domestic responsibilities and other pursuits to the point that you have no energy left for the relationship. Aim to have timetable that incorporates time for you and your partner.
  • Discuss the finances openly with each other so that there is no tension and confusion between you regarding financial commitments and how these are to be met. Aim to be on the same page when it comes to the financial concerns.
  • Look after yourself. Eat healthily, sleep well and exercise regularly to re-charge, keep the energy levels up and the charm glowing.

It may be easier said than done, yet when it comes to long-term relationships, taking a slow and steady approach wins the race every time! There’s nothing like a mantra for a happy marriage but even if you incorporate one of these measures each day into rejuvenating your marriage, you could potentially be much happier, contented and at peace with your partner.

Smita Arora

Clinical Psychologist

2 Comments on “Does Your Relationship Need A Makeover? By Clinical Psychologist, Smita Arora”

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