Communication is key to every healthy relationship and it is imperative to keep in mind that there is more than one way to communicate. The verbal form of communication is just one of the many ways we can demonstrate our love, express concern or show support, yet we so heavily rely on spoken words. Much too often we underestimate the power of a gentle touch, a warm smile, a kind gesture or a flirtatious glance. Silence at times can be much more powerful than a shout. Whether we admit it or not, we are profoundly affected by touch, both physically and emotionally. Happy couples touch each other frequently. A caring touch can offer an acknowledgment of your partner saying “way to go” or “I know that was difficult for you” all without saying a word. Look for opportunities to express yourself without making a sound and you may be surprised how quickly your partner beings to reciprocate.
Missed tip #10? Click here: Focus on Fairness
Not everything in life is equal. No two people are identical and no two snowflakes are the same. This rule applies to relationships as well. Not everything has to be 50/50 but it should certainly be fair. Today I ask you to take an inventory of your relationship responsibilities and evaluate if it’s a fair split. It’s easy to notice our own contributions, in fact, too often we revisit the long list of things we do for our partner, each time adding a thing or two. It takes mindfulness and practice to take note of all the things our partners do for us. Ok, perhaps you are the only one who cleans the bathrooms but is he the only one who takes out the trash? Maybe you are the primary cook in the home, but maybe she does all the driving for the family. Are you the one always making plans and calling for dinner reservations? Well, maybe he is the one who always pays? Shift your focus from equality to fairness. This applies not just to housework, but to the relationship itself. One way to ensure fairness is to make sure you are in fact contributing your talents, time and attention.
Most relationships consist of two individuals with different backgrounds and unique upbringings. Quite often these differences lead to conflicts. A conflict is a natural phenomenon that can result in positive outcomes if managed carefully and thoughtfully. Trouble happens when people try to shut themselves down in order to avoid conflict. Any two people living full and vibrant lives are going to clash at some point, if conflicts are treated with respect and boundaries, they can actually give your relationship a shot of energy. You end up with a broader, fuller, more interesting relationship.
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Just because you enter into a relationship, it does not mean you have to give up who you are as an individual. Successful relationships allow room for growth, personal development and change. Good partners support one another’s individual journey and respect the process of evolution. Freedom comes in many different forms, sometimes it calls for alone time, sometimes a separate hobby and at other times it just means giving each other space for self-realization. At the end of the day all freedom is built on one foundation, trust. Just like a bird does not belong in a cage, you too my friend do not belong in relationship captivity. You deserve to fly so you can reach your highest high and so does your loved one.
Too often our ego gets in the way of our progress. We’re worried that if we apologize first, we lose. In reality, being first gives us an advantage. It shows we are able to take the high road. We get to be the first to reach out, the first to make amends and the first to extend the olive branch. That my friend says a lot about your character. That is something to be proud of. So go ahead, feed that to your ego if you must. Being open and honest about our feelings is a healthy and productive way to handle relationship hurdles. Learning to navigate your ego is a valuable skill that will benefit you in many walks of life, not only in your relationship. Don’t let a three-letter word get between you and someone you care about.
“Often when there is a problem, each person will wait for the other to take the initiative to work things out. But the longer you wait, the more frustrated you both get and the worse you feel. Try making the first move to break a stalemate. It doesn’t mean that you’re giving in. You’re getting the ball rolling instead of being stuck.”
~ Norman Epstein, Ph. D., marriage researcher and family therapist at the University of Maryland