The term ‘special relationship’ has been bandied about more often than usual recently. Whether it is in the context of UK – USA relations, UK – EU relations or to describe some of the insta-coupling occurring on ITV’s ‘Love Island’ we are all pretty familiar with it.
Traditionally it has been used to describe a deep bond of trust and mutual respect. Most famously in the context of the wartime relationship between the UK and the USA. But recently its practical application has been somewhat stretched.
It seems that in the 21st century, maintaining a special relationship means ‘looking the other way’ when it comes to the indiscretions of the other half.
A special relationship that remains special
For example, the special relationship saw the British establishment roll out the red carpet for President Donald Trump. Despite the uproar caused by the comments and actions of the President. Similarly, we hear mention of a special relationship when celebrities take back their wandering exes.
All of which raises the question: is it acceptable to gloss over the unpalatable/unacceptable actions of a partner in order to maintain that ‘special relationship’?
Stand by your man
Supporting your partner is, of course, a critical foundation of any solid relationship. The knowledge that a partner is there for us in difficult times both emotionally and physically supports a healthy relationship. After all, Tammy Wynette did encourage us to ‘stand by your man’ despite their indiscretions and limitations.
Though commitment vows for couples are evolving, they still remain relatively true to the original marriage tenets. Principles of supporting and loving our better half no matter what. This, of course, implies that steadfast support – irrespective of the situation – is essential. Furthermore that we should perhaps bite our tongue when they do or say something we do not agree with.
What makes a special relationship, special?
A relationship is an organic thing: it changes and develops. Part of that process is the opportunity to help each other become better versions of our selves. Mutually beneficial personal growth comes from the differences of opinion, experiences and background inherent to most relationships. As they say, opposites attract and for good reason.
Therefore the ability to help each other grow and develop is just as critical to the happiness and longevity of our relationships as steadfastly supporting each other. In order to maintain what is special about a relationship we need to, at times, offer an honest but loving suggestion that what they are doing/saying might not be appropriate or acceptable.
I love you but this is not OK
This is not to be confused with petty nit-picking or deliberately hurtful comments. We are not offering carte blanche to present your partner with a “20 things you do that annoy me that need to change” list.
We do our relationships a disservice, however, if we are not willing to step up and say “I love you and support you but this is not OK”.
Otherwise, a special relationship becomes one of two things: either shallow and meaningless, or worse still, based on bullying and intimidation. Neither of which are acceptable, no matter who you are or what position you hold.
Relationship counselling services in Scotland
The Spark is one of the leading providers of relationship counselling and support for couples in Scotland. Through our network of 14 counselling centres, we have been providing relationship counselling services for over 50 years.