Twenty-eight years ago, Bernard and I went on our first date at a Chinese restaurant near Ottawa. I had no idea who he was or what he looked like. We had only spoken once over the phone.

We connected through a local dating agency, the type that required us to fill out an 8-page questionnaire about who we were, our likes and dislikes, what we currently did and what we hoped for the future.

Those questions became the foundation for what we were looking for in having a loving and lasting relationship.

Here are just a few of the things to think about and consider when you are either looking for a partner or wanting to strengthen the relationship you already have.

Become Acquainted With Yourself

www.stepmomcoach.comWe put so much energy focusing on what kind of person we want to spend time with that we forget to ask ourselves “what kind of person am I to be with?” If you don’t know who you are, how can you know what to look for in a partner?

Self-awareness is often overlooked as an important first step to finding that person you’ll enjoy being with. This means spending time on your own, getting to know your likes and dislikes, values and beliefs, exploring your dreams and aspirations.

Questions around family, children, holidays, and work are important to look at and have some idea of where you stand.

Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses, desires and dislikes helps you to be honest with yourself and your partner. When you love who you are and accept all of yourself, it becomes easier for others to spend time with you.

Be Honest About Your Feelings

www.stepmomcoach.comYou are bound to have an argument at some point in your relationship. It’s part of being together. I remember the first argument Bernard and I had, it was about his daughter’s behavior. It wasn’t something major, at least I didn’t see it as such. I started to share my frustration over my stepdaughter’s inability to stay seated at the table while we ate.

As I continued to share my feelings, Bernard kept quiet until, all of a sudden, he blurted out that we were done. I was shocked because this was the first time we argued and I couldn’t believe he was ready to call it quits.

Sharing your feelings and emotions deepens the relationship as long as it’s done with love and respect. If your partner perceives you as attacking or criticizing them, they are likely going to retreat inwards or walk away from you.

Think about the purpose behind what you want to share. What is the end result you want to achieve by sharing your feelings?

I’ll say that we have done a lot of testing as to the best ways of sharing our feelings, being honest about what’s going on inside of each other and learning just what and when to share those thoughts and feelings.

Know Your Boundaries

www.stepmomcoach.comBeing in a relationship doesn’t give you permission to do or say anything you want, at any time, to your partner.

Clearly defined boundaries help to create strong and healthy relationships by being respectful and mindful of what each other’s limits are and honoring them.

It’s important to understand that boundaries are not set in stone. As the relationship grows, some boundaries shift either to allow more or less space and freedom, depending on the boundary and the context for the changes.

Be open to negotiate what you are willing to accept or not in the relationship without having to sacrifice your integrity. Discuss the reasons why you feel a certain way about situations in your relationship. Still, be firm about the consequences regarding overstepping your boundaries. A boundary with no consequence or a flimsy one is worthless and leads to lack of respect towards you.

Strong and healthy relationships don’t occur overnight. It takes time and energy, awareness and honesty, patience and commitment. It’s through the experiences you share and the way you deal with them that you build and create loving and lasting relationships.

www.stepmomcoach.comClaudette Chenevert  works with stepmoms struggling to create a cohesive family. As a Master Stepfamily coach, she provides education, support and tools enabling families to achieve their goals within a specific time frame,  often surpassing expectations. She helps you find what works best in your situation so that you will be able to create the kind of family you truly want. For more information about her programs and services, go to https://www.stepmomcoach.com

18 Comments

  1. Rachel Lavern

    Our culture seems to emphasize individuality. Well, in order for any relationship to work, we have to shed our self-centered shell and put ourselves in the shoes of the other person…understanding their perspective, thoughts, and feelings.

    Reply
    • StepmomCoach

      Agreed Rachel that lack of empathy is a big problem especially in this country. We focus on what is best for us and ignore others. I also think that when you don’t take care of your basic needs, discover your true self, you can feel empty inside, turning away from those whom you want to have in your life.
      Along with the tips mentioned above, working together as a team, focusing on a common goal, taking the time to understand others’ struggles are all important to creating a loving and lasting relationship with your partner.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Reply
  2. Lorii Abela

    Every person is unique and can be complicated. Getting to know someone and learning how to live with someone is going to be forever tested because people are naturally resistant. It takes a lot of determination and also decision to commit to a healthy relationship.

    Reply
    • StepmomCoach

      You are so right Lorii and we’re all different and even when the relationship is good, it can be complicated, as I’m sure you are aware of, dealing with people who are dating someone from a different cultures. Relationships require life long maintenance in order to keep them “running smoothly.” Doesn’t mean there will never be bumps in the road, just that you have the tools and skills at hand to help you deal with them.

      Reply
  3. Teresa Salhi

    What a great lil story about you and your beloved and just as great the story + advice of how to co-create a great relationship. It’s my favorite topic and really enjoyed reading this.

    Reply
    • StepmomCoach

      Ah! Thanks Teresa. I firmly believe that no matter the type of relationship you have, whether it’s with your partner, children, family or friends, we all need to remember that knowing who we are, being honest with our emotions and setting healthy boundaries will help you in having loving and lasting relationships.

      Reply
  4. Cathy Sykora

    Great post. Today was a big boundary day. I’m taking care of my husband while he recuperates from double knee replacement. He’s at that angry stage where he’s sick and tired and rude and unappreciative. I’m setting boundaries and walking a fine line because I still get to take care of him while he makes me angry. Those are the toughest – but probably the best too – you get through that kind of stuff and you end up with iron-clad boundaries and trust. Knowing the purpose of what you are getting ready to say is SOOOO smart. That would probably cause 95% of speakers to reevaluate their statements or questions. Thanks

    Reply
    • StepmomCoach

      First of all, wishing your husband quick recovery on his knees.
      Second, lots to courage and patience to you for being the caregiver of your husband. I think setting healthy boundaries for yourself probably allowed you to be there for him, but with limits as to what is OK and not OK with you. We can be angry about what’s happening to us, as long as we let the other person know that we simply want to express our frustration about the situation and not being angry AT them.
      Clear expectations and communication helps strengthen the bonds between people. You sound like you have it under control. Good luck.

      Reply
  5. Beverley Golden

    Reading this I couldn’t help but think that how we go about being in relationships changes depending on the age and stage of life we are. Although I have been on my own for 20+ years, who I am today and how I would be in a relationship, is so different than I was back then. Knowing ourselves, is definitely the place to start before we enter a relationship. If we don’t know ourselves, how would do we expect someone else to “know” us? I love the question you suggest we ask ourselves, Claudette. Indeed, “what kind of person am I to be with?” It is such a healthy way to step back and take an honest look at ourselves.

    Reply
    • StepmomCoach

      Relationships, just like us change, just like us. What is important is for us to check in with each other on occasion (which is what Bernard and I do every January) to see where we stand on our goals, values, beliefs, what is now important to us and what we feel it’s time to let go. I personally love to journal, to rediscover myself by asking and answering questions about life, the world, my likes and dislikes.
      I even have a piece of paper that I used to carry around which said: “I want to be a better friend to my friends, and this is how it would look like…”
      Thanks Beverley for sharing your thoughts with me.

      Reply
  6. Reba Linker

    This is some of the best relationship advice I’ve ever read – for anyone at all – no matter what the familial situation, step-parenting included or not. If one can fulfill your recommendations, above, one is well on the way to a healthy relationship.

    Reply
    • StepmomCoach

      Well thank you Reba. I appreciate this. Relationships are simple, it’s keeping them strong and healthy that can be challenging and complicated, no matter who it is.

      Reply
  7. Jackie Harder

    “What kind of person am I to be with?” What a great question! It set me back on my heels as I don’t think many of us thing about that…ever. In intimate or casual relationships. Boundaries are important and if you feel the need to change them, communication is key, too. Of course, communication is important all the time. Good stuff!

    Reply
    • StepmomCoach

      Thanks Jackie. That question “what kind of person am I to be with?” came out of an interview I did with family and friends about how they saw me rather how I saw myself in relations to them. It was a very interesting project and one that got me thinking that the way others see me is not at all how I see myself.
      I began to do quite a bit of self-reflection (as I still often do.) Self-discovery is never ending, which is fine with me.

      Reply
  8. Candess M. Campbell

    It seems to enter into a step family situation, one has to have a healthy sense of themselves and an ability to grow. It is so easy to get into a situation where one person triangulates the relationship. Once married, it is important for the couple to show a united front with the love and health of the children as a unified purpose. It is a lot of work and what you have to teach is so important Claudette. Have your written a book I can recommend to clients?

    Reply
    • StepmomCoach

      The happiest and most successful stepfamilies are those how prioritize their marriage first while being fully responsible to their children second. This is a healthy role model for children, to see that when you ensure the marriage is strong and healthy, the children can grow without fear of losing their family unit – again.
      I am in the process of writing a book. I will be out later this year. I will let you know when it’s available to recommend to your clients.

      Reply
  9. Webly

    I love your first advice to be acquainted with yourself. After my divorce, I realize how comfortable I was with my son and how no matter how I looked or what kind of day I was having, he saw his beautiful mom. Going into 2018 I made a commitment to see myself like he does, flawless that my imperfections only met that I am human. I also noticed that getting acquainted with myself attracts people.

    Reply
    • StepmomCoach

      What a beautiful goal and commitment for yourself Webly. It’s so interesting how our children can see us as we truly are and yet, we sometimes have issues with that. I love that you are attracting more people simply be reacquainting yourself with you. Enjoy the discovery.

      Reply

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