Your relationships, just like all other aspects of your well-being require attention and care. Research has shown that people who have healthy relationships live happier and more fulfilled lives. In a society that demands longer working hours leaving less time to secure a good work life balance, it has become increasingly challenging to stay connected to family and friends. As a therapist, I get to see first-hand the benefits of making your relationships a priority on a daily basis. Establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships can make life more satisfying providing us with a deeper physical and spiritual connection as well providing us with the support we need to accomplish our desired goals.
Following are a few tips on how to nurture and develop your relationship skills:
Finding a good balance between listening and speaking is significant in building excellent communication skills. During disagreements it is important to keep in mind that the goal is to attack the problem and not the person. Actively listening with an open mind with a purpose of gaining an understanding of the other person’s perspective is tantamount to building strong relationships. Active listening involves an intentional effort not to interrupt the other person while they are speaking even when you do not like or agree with what the other person is saying. Seek to understand rather than to listen for the purpose of formulating a rebuttal or a counter argument.
Good sense of humor
The demands of everyday life can be very stressful and intense. Having someone you can share the pleasures of humor with can be a great distraction and an excellent source of stress relief. Having a person in your life that you can have fun with can help to form a strong bond, diffuse tension, put things into perspective and overcome obstacles. On the other hand, keep in mind that while humor may be important, it is not necessarily essential to a strong relationship. It is possible to have a healthy and meaningful relationship with a person who does not get your jokes and that’s fine as well. The important thing is to have an overall positive attitude towards each other. One caution to be aware of is humor can be counterproductive if it is used to cover up other emotions such as shame, anger or guilt. It can be funny to laugh about the truth but it is not so funny when you laugh to cover up the truth.
The art of forgiveness
Being able to forgive is crucial to the success and sustainability of any relationship. Research indicates that the ability to forgive is one of the most significant attributes to the longevity of relationships. Holding a grudge against someone can foster an environment in which a conflict can be the result of even the smallest incident. It is extremely difficult to maintain a healthy relationship when someone cannot move past an emotional disturbance. When this happens, it can be advantageous to seek professional guidance in your relationship.
Goals and dream sharing
We are usually most energized when we are pursuing a goal. Making time to share your excitements and your setbacks can be very validating and encouraging. Exchanging perspectives on shared values and your dreams enables you to build a deeper emotional connection and also provides an opportunity for you to honor all that each of you bring to the table.
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.