Today’s couples are inundated with so many sources of marriage/relationship advice—it can be quite overwhelming. And typically, when we reach information overload, relevant tips about what can strengthen your relationship are not likely to be retained over the long haul. To make matters worse, sometimes there is conflicting advice about what relationships need to remain healthy, or the information may simply not be relevant to your unique circumstances.
Relationship Help for Couples: The CAR Approach for Keeping Your Relationship Moving Forward
While marital/relationship problems become convoluted as layers of defensiveness and anger/resentments grow, this doesn’t mean that the steps to strengthening your marriage or relationship need to be complicated. In fact, a simple, straightforward approach can be just what your relationship needs.
Think of your car: the goal is, of course, to keep your vehicle moving forward. Similarly, you don’t want your relationship to become stalled or stuck in the mud of common relationship pitfalls like mounting resentments, unresolved grievances, or unloving sentiments. The “CAR” principle for a healthy relationship or marriage is a simple way for couples to keep their relationship moving in a positive direction. “CAR” stands for being consistent, available, and responsive:
(C)onsistent in your words and actions.
Erratic or inconsistent behavior (being loving one day, indifferent the next) rocks the security and foundation of a relationship. So if you plan on doing something specific to improve your relationship, the challenge is to be consistent and to follow through for the long haul.
(A)vailable with your emotional presence.
Knowing that our partner is emotionally available when we are in need is a great comfort and allows us to feel emotionally safe. In fact, just the knowledge of our partner’s availability is often enough to ground us emotionally.
(R)esponsive to each other’s needs.
Responsiveness is taking emotional availability to the next level. It is love in action. Here the message being sent is, “What can I do for you in this moment?” Remember, love isn’t just a feeling; rather, it’s a way of being with each other.
The challenge for you and your spouse/partner is to discuss the CAR principles and integrate these into your relationship. You can even ask yourself each day, “How am I going to be consistent with my love and support, available with my emotional presence, and responsive to my partner’s needs?”
Dr. Rich Nicastro