Building and maintaining healthy relationships


December 29, 2015

Christmas is over and gone, but one thing remains constant and that is our relationship with our significant other. Why not foster a new year resolution for sustaining our love lives as we do with our bank accounts and careers.

Let me help you with that because I know that our journey toward enduring love and lasting happiness begins by developing a solid base of safety and security. We must set out equipped with honesty, tolerance, and a willingness to reach out to each other when we need to. This path is only properly paved by our intention to solve problems with reasoning and to listen to different points of view, rather than holding on to being right at the expense of our most valuable loving connection. And, as we learn to accept and support our mutual strivings, we will find our way toward an ever more satisfying relationship and a rich and meaningful inner life too.

Ongoing Effort

Now, most of us know that keeping a vehicle moving in the desired direction requires, not only regular refuelling, but also ongoing maintenance and active corrections to the steering to compensate for changes in the road. A similar situation applies to continuing relationships. While we may work hard to get the relationship started, expecting to cruise without effort or active maintenance typically leads the relationship to a place of abuse emotionally and otherwise. Though gifts and getaways are important, it is often the small, non material things that partners routinely do for each other that keep the relationship satisfying. Successful long-term relationships involves ongoing effort and compromise by both partners and building and maintaining healthy patterns early in your relationship can help to establish a solid foundation for the long run.

Talk, Talk, Talk

Communication is a key part to building a healthy relationship. The first step is making sure you both want and expect the same things - being on the same page is very important and talking about your expectations are equally important.

Appreciation & Respect

Build a foundation of appreciation and respect. Focus on all the considerate things your partner says and does. Happy couples make a point of noticing even small opportunities to say "thank you" to their partner rather than focusing on mistakes their partner has made.

Remember, maintaining a healthy relationship requires sacrifices, attention and care. It helps to think of your relationships as a living thing itself. Like all living things, it needs nourishment and protection, healing when it is sick, and space to grow and flourish. I know these are all nice words, but what does that mean on a practical level? It means you need to always think about your relationship and not take it or your partner for granted. It means you need to be vigilant against things that might threatens your relationship, not just the obvious things like temptation, but the subtle things like imbalances in responsibility and duty, comparisons to others, jealousy and so on. It means you need to nourish your relationships with thoughtfulness for the other's needs, find time together and sometimes even times apart. It means when things are going wrong you need to stop and think about how you can improve them and perhaps what sacrifices you need to make. It also means that for a marriage/relationship to go forward you have to accept change because you both will change to grow stronger. Changes in your life outside of your relationship will impact what you want and need from your relationship. And since change is inevitable, welcoming it as an opportunity to enhance the relationship is more fruitful than trying to keep it from happening. Happy New Year!

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