There is a famous Zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
Today chop wood, carry water doesn’t have the same meaning as it did centuries ago, but it reveals the need to commit to basic skills that assure a healthy life.
To keep a marriage strong and steady in today’s digital age, you need to develop some strong relationship skills such as balancing your strengths and individuality with those of another, not by competing or arguing, but through understanding what’s important to you and what’s important to your partner.
You can’t respect differences, if you don’t understand them.
How to develop a lasting relationship?
In any relationship, there are only two relationship skills which matter most.
They are the ability to listen and the courage to speak your truth.
1. Be a good listener
It is very rare today to have someone’s undivided attention. When you receive it, you feel heard and special.
Unfortunately, listening is a lost art.
Most young people don’t value it, partially because they don’t understand it’s powers. When you listen, you learn. When you listen, you connect. When you listen, you are teaching someone to trust you. When you listen, you show respect and you show your care.
That’s a lot of brownie points for just being present!
If you wonder how to improve communication skills in a relationship, you can start by being a good listener.
The do’s and don’ts of listening
You’re not listening when your mind is thinking of something else.
To be present, requires a still mind. If that’s a problem, take up meditation, yoga or go for long walks in nature. If you make an effort, you’ll get results. Encourage your partner to talk about his or her self.
Ask them questions about their day, their dreams or their childhood.
You need to understand your partner to create intimacy.
Most men won’t share their thoughts unless you provide a non-judgmental environment and ask them specific questions.
Make the time to talk. Put it on your schedule. Take a walk together every evening or go for a cup of coffee. If that’s not possible, find a place where you won’t be distracted and turn off your phones.
To really listen, you can’t be distracted.
- Don’t interrupt someone when they’re talking – Wait until they finish their idea, then ask questions. If you’re really interested, they will feel it and your conversation will go to a new level.
- If you don’t agree, try to understand – When you understand, it deepens your connection.
- Be empathetic – Be empathetic to the problems, desires and experiences of your spouse. When you can share a moment, it bonds you.
Listening is the bridge that connects your differences. It’s only the first step, but it’s one of the important relationship skills.
Know and speak your truth
In today’s digital world, too many lives are created around glamourous pictures and images of adventure, not reality.
If this is you, then you’re probably an empty person.
Do you put aside who you are in order to fit in?
Now, being yourself is not easy. The world will always pressure you to conform. It’s important to be liked and accepted and this desire makes it easy to lose your sense of self without knowing it’s happening.
It takes courage to disagree and risk rejection, just to speak your truth. Again, this is one of the important relationship skills you must understand if you wish to enjoy a lasting relationship with your partner.
If you always give in to your spouse or others, you’ll lose your charisma and a sense of self. Without differences and well defined ideas and ideals, you won’t be interesting.
Everyone enjoys a loving challenge.
You can’t learn from each other, if you hide your truth and don’t offer it to those close to you. When you do, it makes you insecure.
Love and power need each other.
Love without power makes you a victim, and power without love makes you a dictator. So, bring them together in your truth. Be who you are. Challenge each other in a respectful way and you’ll build a strong and lasting relationship.
Speaking your truth feels like taking a risk.
Take it! Do it! Say what’s in your heart. If no one listens, you listen. Stand up for yourself. Ask for what you need and want. Don’t worry about who is listening – you listen. When you hear yourself, others take notice.
The power of truth
Now, if you wish to imbibe good personal and romantic relationship skills, then learn to respect the power of truth.
- When you stand for truth, others see you as strong and they respect you.
- Truth breaks through illusions. You don’t waste time.
- When you speak your truth, others who do the same are attracted to you.
- Truth is reliable. You can count on someone who says what they think.
- Truth creates a desire to understand. When we understand, we bridge gaps, even when we disagree.
When you don’t speak your truth, you are minimizing yourself and your ideas and ideals. We teach others how to treat us. Disregarding yourself and others will do the same.
The ability to listen, increases your personal magnetism. The courage to stand in your truth attracts only those strong enough to hear it. If you do both, your marriage will be exciting and have longevity because it will keep growing.
The mentioned relationship skills will actually help you to strengthen the bond you share with your partner.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Linda Joyce