Remember that story about the 3 little pigs? Do you remember the message behind their story? The first two pigs built a house out of materials that were much faster to put together, but ultimately it didn’t matter because the wolf came and blew them all down.
The third pig, however, built their house out of bricks. They probably spent days and days constructing the home, possibly while the other pigs were relaxing. But because of its strength, the wolf could not blow it down.
Your relationship as a house
Let’s pretend that your relationship is one of those houses. Inevitably, there is going to be a “big bad wolf” that will come along and try to destroy the house. It happens in every relationship. There are some things in life that will try and create a fissure between you both, but it’s your foundation that will keep you standing together.
When the wolf comes knocking, it can be easy to give in and sometimes we can forget about all the things that brought us together in the first place. The strengths, shared experiences, values, beliefs; all the things that attracted you to your partner in the beginning.
Building a strong foundation in your relationship is not a quick flip of a switch. It’s built over a long time little by little. So how do you accomplish this? One way is to make your strengths as a couple even stronger!
Typically, we focus on the negatives or weaknesses and how to improve them to strengthen our relationships. Just as important, however, is realizing and taking advantage of your strengths as a couple. This has the benefit of often times being easier mentally because of the fact that you’re discussing what you’re already good at, rather than what you feel you’re not doing a good at. During times of turmoil, these strengths can be good to lean on.
Your relationship’s first strength
Think back to when you were dating. What were you both really good at together? Was humor and laughing a big part of your relationship? Were you both excellent communicators? Did you both love adventure?
These shared strengths helped to create a strong bond early in your relationship and should continue to do so. These things can help you relate to each other more in times of need and can bring you close together.
It’s also important to identify those shared values. Is faith a big part of your relationship? What about giving back to your community, or continually looking for things to expand your mind? Shared values can also help build a stronger bond while giving you opportunities to grow both individually and as a couple.
When you are looking for things to do that will help strengthen your relationship, don’t forget to invest in those strengths or shared values.
If you need to improve your communication skills, then find ways invest in that. Try our conversation starters if you need help starting a discussion and see where they take you. If one of your biggest strengths is your humor, then find ways to get even better at making each other laugh.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say both of you identify humor as a strength. In tough times, you both rely on this to cheer each other up or use laughter as a way to support one another. Can you use this strength more often in your every day laugh? If you think your partner is the funniest person in the world, do you let them know of this, or do you assume they already know? Words of Affirmation, one of the 5 Love Languages, says audibly reassuring your partner about how you feel about them has a huge impact on your relationship.
Improving the strengths in your relationship
It can be easy for you to say, “You know, we love to make each other laugh. We don’t really need to strengthen that side of us because we are already pretty good”. Because of that thought process, you don’t spend much time focusing on finding new ways to make each other laugh.
But what if you did? What if you took improv classes or took time every week to learn new jokes to tell each other? What if you made comedy shows a part of your date night tradition?
We already know that making each other laugh is a strength. We know that those types of activities that we mentioned above would be attractive to you both. You would be investing in things you love and that time spent together would help create a stronger bond. In addition, you would be getting even better at something you are already good at. You would go from being good at making each other laugh, to being great at doing so. That strength would be an even stronger part of your relationship.
So, our question is simple. What are your biggest strengths in your relationship and how can you make them even stronger?
If you are good communicators, how can you be GREAT communicators?
If faith is a strong part of your relationship, how can you make it the STRONGEST part of your relationship?
Spend some time exploring your relationship to find what strengths build up its foundation. Once you have identified some, find ways to improve and strengthen those areas even more!