6 tips for a healthier and happier relationship
As most of us do during the holidays, we visit and see relatives and friends for a visit. Sometimes it’s relatives we have not seen often but are important enough for us to show up or connect.
That’s what we did for our holidays as well, we had relatives over for meals. Most of the time, we were looking forward to seeing them. This time around, there were some feuds happening on the down low. Lots of ‘she said, he said’ as they add their own flavor in the spin of recounting a tense moment during the holiday.
Those conversations were tense and quite honestly, a bit disheartening. I understand the frustration that both sides must feel in this relationship.
It got me thinking… (uh oh…) why are relationships so complex? Why can’t we all just GET ALONG??
News flash! Relationships are complex because humans are complex! But it’s this complexity that can make our experiences seemingly impossible or incredible.
Throw in the fact that the key word of relationships is ‘relate’. Really, you aren’t born into a ‘great relationship’, the quality of the relationships are as good as your ability to relate to one another.
re·late rəˈlāt/verb 1. make or show a connection between. 2. be causally connected.
What exactly does that mean?
How does one make or show a connection to another?
I am going to back up a bit here and explain about the complexity of human behavior.
Our brains are like computers capable of processing billions of bits of information per second but storing a few hundred bits only. The main tasks for the brain to do is to divide and conquer. Whether it fits or doesn’t fit into what our own model of the world is, will depend on our upbringing, genetics, time, energy, beliefs and attitudes. Then we store the information into programs, we call “beliefs”… really, the only two things we store are… programs and stories to feed into our programs.
You may think you know and understand human relationships but the proof is in the pudding when it comes to relationships we’ve created for ourselves… do we have loving intimate relationships, are we surrounded by loving friends and family, do you make friends easily with acquaintances, do you relate to your boss? As long as there is someone out there you don’t really like or understand… there’s room for growth 😉
Oh not me, I have no such problems!!… I would have told you that years ago. I married my best friend and he’s the one that I can be 100% me… no filter.
That was until we had kids.
We basically got thrown into what true commitment and intimacy looks like. Oh, this is what they mean when they said ‘through thick and thin’. My trials were raising hyper-sensitive children and dealing with adult ‘children’ (I will include my husband and I in the latter category). I can’t even begin to tell the details of the most painful moments of our marriage. We didn’t seem to agree on anything, especially when it came to parenting!
Now I can fall into my stories of he said ‘this’ and ‘that’ to prove to you that it’s all his fault! Reality is, however, I can tell you now, in hindsight, parts of what was really going on. We both had and probably still working through, some intimacy/commitment issues. In our case, I’m not talking about sex or extramarital affairs, I’m talking about the commitment to do what’s needed to communicate intimately as parents on the same page, making time for each other in our marriage, etc.. the list is long.
We’ve both worked hard on ‘relating’ in our relationship. It’s still a work in progress but I’m glad to report it’s getting lighter. We usually can talk now, without it becoming a fight! There WERE days when I felt hopeless! And of course, it’s all his fault (unless you ask him of course!). 😛
Now that I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, there’s a few things I would recommend to someone in a relationship:
- Compassion. First things first… have compassion. The fact, that you don’t understand why that person doesn’t … (fill in the blanks) is the same reason you need to … (fill in the blanks). For example, ‘why don’t they understand’… means you need to put in more effort to understand. ‘Why don’t they listen’… means you can put in more effort to listen. I used to wonder ‘Why doesn’t he have more compassion towards the kids’ and as soon as I had more compassion for him, it was the beginning for him to come closer in the right direction of having more compassion for the kids.
- Ultra awareness. The relationship didn’t happen to you. This relationship is happening FOR you. That might seem unfair to hear if you’re in an abusive relationship, I mean no one would choose a bad relationship but there are lessons in all relationships. Sometimes the lesson is contrast and to help you be aware of what you don’t want. Sometimes the lesson is compassion. Awareness is taking the step into ownership of your part in this relationship. It would have been easy to blame my husband for his lack of parenting skills. It wasn’t that he changed when he became a parent… what was always there and what I found attractive at one point, was now magnified and then some. We all make choices why we got into the relationship in the first place. Okay, you might not feel you’ve chose your parents, but that’s another conversation.
- Seek help. You know the saying hindsight is 20/20? Well, I say even if you have 20/20 vision, with both eyes you can see a combination of 130–135° vertical and 200–220° horizontal. This means there’s still lots you don’t see. When you seek help, you’re enlisting someone to support you in focusing on something you weren’t aware of. And if that person can’t help you, find someone else… there is someone out there that can help you improve your relationships.
- Knowledge. Knowledge is key. If you had a car that wasn’t working, you’d either find someone to help you fix it or you’d read enough about it so you could fix it yourself. There’s always someone out there that has been where you are now and currently living your ideal, find out what they did and do the same thing. The more you learn about how to relate and communicate, the more effective you become to getting your message across.
- Love yourself. Sometimes relationships suck! Your relationship would bother you more if you were focused on any dissatisfaction with your own life. Your relationship would bother you less if you were focused on adding fulfillment into your own life. Focus on healing and loving yourself first; you’ll find that the relationships around you have no choice but to transform closer or further from you.
- Believe. Believe in a healthy, abundant and beautiful relationship. Whether it is with your self, your parent, your partner, your friend or your coworker. If you don’t believe in it, then there is no hope for it to become a reality. Believe in it for everyone involved… whether together or apart.
If you were to take away ONE thing from this article… the most powerful thing you can do in a relationship is Believe in a healthy and beautiful relationship.
Wishing you love and light,