Relationships are not easy. Just because we believe someone is our soulmate and matches are made in heaven, doesn’t mean the ride ahead is going to be smooth and easy. Each one of us has to put in the work with every relationship in our life, romantic or otherwise, for it to work. Walking away is easy, staying our ground and fighting for love, is not. Therefore, a little perspective goes a long way in easing things for us.
Here are eight simple suggestions to keep our relationships healthy. Most of which we already know, but always tend to forget or ignore when driven by emotions and feelings.
Tip 1: Communication is key
This is the most talked about toolset for a healthy relationship and, yet, least practised. I am not saying one must share every thought and emotion with our partners. But assuming they understand us without us clearly spelling out our needs and where to boundaries, is incorrect. It is not a free ticket to criticism of our partners. However, a clear and concise expression goes a long way in the other person understanding where we come from.
Tip 2: Trust each other
Trust cannot magically exist in a relationship. It needs to be built, to be earned, to be given, and it involves effort. On a daily basis. When we do what we say we will do, when we focus on the needs of each other, when we focus on our unit instead of running to friends and family for a pity party, when we make the time to understand the demons and past traumas of our partners, is when we slowly build the blocks of trust. And more often than not, trust once broken, is very hard to earn back. Honesty and loyalty are the foundation of building and keeping trust between two people.
Tip 3: Respect and equality
Love cannot exist in the absence of respect. We can love someone to the moon and back, but for that relationship to last in the real world, one has to earn the respect of our partners. One has to be mindful of not doing unto our partner what we would not like done to ourselves. This is true equality. And this grows with time. Our value systems, our professional ethics, our behaviour towards elders, children, those above us and below us, our dedication and passion for everything we do, all go a long way in earning respect.
Tip 4: Quality time together
Are we devoting all our time to our careers, our children, household chores? Is every plan we make involving friends and people outside of us and our partner? We must factor time spent alone into our busy schedules, no matter what. To laugh together, shared interests, setting goals, talking about our day, individual hopes and dreams, where the relationship is going, what we need from our partners, mistakes we’ve made, and as far as even playing fun games! Quality bonding helps bring us closer, understand each other and we grow together as a couple instead of growing apart over time!
Tip 5: Support and encouragement
Relationships will work best when we put the ‘we’ before the ‘me’. To encourage and support the decisions of our partner, sometimes even when we may not entirely agree with them, their career choices, their families, hobbies, friends. To know that we have someone we can rely on, fall back on when the chips are down, is a huge factor in living a healthy peaceful life.
Tip 6: Conflict resolution
How do we address the difficult times? The hard conversations? Do we get aggressive, passive aggressive? Do we shut down emotionally? Do we sulk/retreat? Do we punish our partners by withholding love, intimacy? Do we throw up past conflicts every time we’re faced with a new one? Do we constantly rub their mistakes in? Our approach to addressing the rough times, will determine how safe our partners feel about sharing their dark sides with us. About changing behaviour so as not to hurt the other again. Kindness and compassion are the key in healthy conflict resolution.
Tip 7: Intimacy and affection
No matter how busy we are, how tired we may be at work, how demanding home chores or the children may be, literally carving out a schedule for intimacy is imperative in healthy relationships. Day to day display of affection, a slight touch, a morning kiss, a welcome home hug, may seem like trivial, but help to keep the spark going. Partners drift apart if we don’t feel needed & loved by the other.
Tip 8: Independence
The most important aspect of any healthy relationship and the most overlooked one, is one where two individuals hold on to their lives outside of each other. Career goals, families, friends, hobbies, things that make us happy. Not to say our partners must not be included in the above, but when we live wholesome happy lives ourselves, is the only way we can bring our happy self to our partners. And vice versa!
Share your views and comments with me, would love to hear from you on the above.
(The writer is a Relationship expert and owner of dance fitness studios called Arts in Motion Studios India)