Relationships can be confusing and frustrating; and they sometimes seem more like a battleground than an oasis of love and understanding. Luckily, there are tools and principles that anyone can use to develop happier relationships.
For starters, it’s important to remember that, we get out of our relationships what we put into them. They are like an emotional bank account, where we make deposits in our partner’s account through sincere gestures and thoughtfulness; and we make withdrawals when we are insensitive.
The first principle of a good relationship is integrity. The word ‘integrity’ comes from ‘integer’ – which means whole. Just as a boat’s integrity and wholeness keep it from sinking, our own integrity is the foundation that builds and maintains our healthy relationships. Relationships can be more than the sum of their parts. But this is only true to the extent that the individuals in the relationship are themselves whole. It is well documented that an emotional and psychological reliance on a partner, due to one’s own feelings of incompleteness, can easily lead to unhealthy or codependent relationships. On the other hand, a well-balanced person can contribute to a relationship rather than dragging it down.
Seeking common ground is another key to healthy relationships. That is, relationships do well when both partners are motivated by similar values – and they work to keep those values in the center of their relationship. When people’s values match, they find it easier to overcome challenges and to work together.
For example, I know a couple who experienced financial calamity soon after having their first child. For a short time, they were even homeless. But because they had common spiritual values, they got through it together. Now, years later, they’re doing well financially and in their relationship; and when they remember their most intense challenges, they see them as the times when they came closer because they pulled together on the basis of their common values. When partners not only have common values but also keep them in the center of their relationship, they find it easier to overcome challenges.
Finally, there are no greater assets to a relationship than attention and communication. Remember this when your partner is speaking to you. Try listening carefully and then repeating back what you think you heard, BEFORE you answer. Doing this is simple but can make a big difference. On the other hand, half-listening or looking at your phone while talking with your partner, is a sure way to make him or her feel that you really don’t care.
In order to maintain a healthy relationship, go out of your way to make emotional deposits and avoid withdrawals. Practice integrity by taking responsibility for your own happiness; look for common ground in your values to create harmony and overcome challenges when they come up; and finally, make sure to offer your partner undivided attention.
Just by following these basic principles, you’ll find that your relationships will not only survive, but they will also thrive.
What has been your experience in nurturing relationships? I really like to hear your story. Please drop me a note with your realizations or any questions/comments that you have using Ask Vaish form.1