Often when we are asked ‘how you are contributing to your relationship’, we automatically think of money and financial contributions. But, did you know that money is not the only way you contribute to your relationship?
Essentially there are 5 key pillars under which we contribute to a relationship:
Couples often get caught up in the only looking at the Financial pillar and using this as a metric against how they are contributing and the value of their contribution. Finances is one of the top 5 issues that couples argue about and often drives couples apart.
This is why it is important for couples to have these tough dialogues, they’re hard because we are seldom taught how to have difficult conversations on topics that are perhaps uncomfortable for many of us – it takes courage to be honest, transparent and yet remain open to each other’s ideas, perspectives, wants and needs to ensure you are aligned and on the same page with each other.
Below are some conversation starters to help you become more comfortable in having courageous conversations.
Find a quiet space where you won’t be distracted and take turns to discuss the following topics around how you are both contributing to your relationship and each other:
- How are you living your relationship values – this establishes boundaries and protects your relationship.
- How do you make your relationship and each other a priority – taking each other into consideration.
- How do you make time for each other – quality time away from distractions (e.g. date nights).
- How well do you both resolve conflict – all relationships hit speed bumps. The ability to resolve conflict in a healthy way vs. a destructive way is crucial to your relationship health and success.
- How effective is your communication – communication = connection, when the relationship space doesn’t feel safe, there will be superficial communication and very little connection.
- How would you rate your intimacy and connection – NB this is different to sex! It’s how you treat each other, speak to each other, are affectionate towards each other, and the little things you do each day that say I care about you.
- How good are you at managing your expectations – we often set our partners up for failure by having a set of expectations in our minds and then feel let down and disappointed when they do not meet our expectations.
- How well do you share responsibilities – household chores, social calendar, friends and family, paying the bills, grocery shopping, supporting each other’s career aspirations etc
Just like we review our finances each month, quarter or year, so too should we review our relationship as to what is working well, and any areas that can be improved upon.
- Download the Relationship Currency template and use it as a guide to list all the ways, events, items and actions that you believe you are both making as a contribution to your relationship.
- If you are in a relationship, discuss this with each other to understand if it feels fair, is one taking on more than the other, what support do you need from each other etc
- Discuss how often you will check in / review this with each other as your relationship evolves and circumstances change.
- If you are single, reflect on what currencies you have contributed to your previous relationships, what would you change/improve on? Keep these factors in mind going into your next relationship as a discussion to have with your future partner.
By regularly discussing these topics and completing the above exercises, you should have a clear sense and level of comfort on how you are both investing in your relationship and the returns you are getting.
Think of your relationship as an investment account. The more deposits you make, the more returns you are going to get. The more you neglect these 5 pillars, the more your investment will deteriorate.
In other words, it’s those little things you do every day that says I care about you, I’m thinking about you, I appreciate you and you are a priority in my life.
Paula Quinsee: Relationship Expert and passionate advocate for creating healthy relationships at home, in the workplace, and against GBV, to co-create a more human connected world and positively impact people’s lives. Paula is also an international speaker and author of Embracing Conflict and Embracing No.