This week it’s Valentine’s Day, so I thought I’d better talk about relationships. One of the things you learn when you start studying couples counselling is that every relationship is different and you have to be careful not to project your view of what a relationship should be onto the couple in front of you. So my idea of a good relationship might be very different to yours.

This week on Facebook you might see effusive messages of love but, unless one of us has been abducted by aliens, you won’t see any from me or my husband. This is not to say that we don’t love each other; in fact we’ve been married almost 29 years and have been together over 31 years so either we do love each other or we’re just suckers for punishment.

In fact we communicate with sarcasm and taking the p*** out of each other. (If you mention to my husband how long we’ve been married he’ll tell you that you get a shorter sentence for murder!) Romantic gestures/messages/flowers are not important to either of us. What IS important is that we’re a team. In that life sentence that we’ve been together we’ve had our ups and downs and had many challenges and stresses as well as many amazing shared experiences (and we’ve moved continent twice). Throughout it all, we know that we’ve got each other’s back.

This is starting to stray dangerously into mushy territory, so let’s think about what NOT to accept in a relationship. When I started in this field I was shocked at the prevalence of abusive relationships, but this a serious topic which deserves proper attention and so there’ll be several posts covering this in the future.

But to finish on a positive note, a friend of mine recently posted a meme on Facebook which said “Find someone who is proud to have you, scared to lose you, fights for you, appreciates you, respects you, cares for you, and loves you unconditionally”. That sounds about right to me. And if you can’t find that person, it may be better to stay single than to settle for less than you deserve.

Footnote: If you’re wondering who John and Mary are, I can highly recommend that you watch the hilarious Irish comedy Father Ted. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve missed out. Here is some classic John and Mary.

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