Bring Valentine’s Day feelings into the rest of the year
February 7, 2008
The Summit County chapter of Mental Health America is working to raise awareness about mental health and reduce stigmas. As part of that education, each month, local professionals will shed light on a mental health topic.
BRECKENRIDGE – Valentine’s Day is a time when people idealize the romantic phase of a relationship, said local licensed psychologist Byran Austill, Mdiv, Ph.D.The couple is happy and everything seems to go smoothly, he said, adding that that is “something we’d all like all the time.””However, the romantic phase in relationships always fades,” said Austill, who has a private practice in Breckenridge and Frisco, often works with relationships and is also an ordained Methodist clergyman.And when it fades, people generally have a choice to change partners, try to change their partner or become a better partner who is positively engaged in the relationship, said Austill as he began offering advice about how to do just that.”Relationships take time and attention,” he said. “We expect ourselves to get better at our jobs, and we should expect ourselves to get better at our loving by working at it.”Two keys to a positive relationship include focusing on growing ourselves and learning how to limit our reactions to our partners “when they are not their best selves,” Austill said.For example, if someone resorts to name calling, instead of reacting to it and becoming hostile or punishing the person by rejecting them, don’t react to the negative, he said. Take it upon yourself to reach out, be willing to forgive and invite the other person to do something positive for the relationship, he added.Something that may be helpful for couple is calling a “Time Out” during a conflict, Austill said. They should then “go into neutral places and calm themselves down rather than prepare for more battle,” he added.Also, learn how to avoid saying things you may regret and how to edit out heated comments, he said.Another essential aspect is learning how to balance care of yourself and care for your partner. Often times people focus too much on getting or giving, Austill said. “Learning to balance giving and receiving is an area we can all grow in.”A Valentine’s Day gift Austill recommended is talking to your partner about what you want, rather than thinking they can read your mind.Relationships “take time and energy, not just one day of doing something nice for the other person,” Austill said.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.