Relationships have become one of the most important factors towards defining ourselves and our happiness.
Often, people look for happiness from their partner. They may have this idea that the “perfect match” will somehow “complete” them. They are putting their worth in someone else. Even Hollywood has it that life ends “happily ever after” once we find our prince charming or soul mate. There is so much more to creating healthy, happy and fulfilling relationships than what plays out in the movies. Love is not scripted. It’s not all wrapped up in a bow in just under 90 minutes. Relationships are hard work. Romantic movies make it look so easy.
Relationship issues can be worked out if both people have a desire to work on themselves and owning their part in the relationship challenges. The key is to first take responsibility, work on yourself and then on the marriage or relationship.
There are some basic ingredients to a healthy and fulfilling relationship. These are based on putting these into practice in my own life. Within two months of dating my husband, we both thought each other could be “the one.” So, I told him I wanted to go to pre-marital counseling. I wanted to ensure we started this relationship off on the right foot and to understand whether we were compatible with several key elements such as values, character, family, spirituality, and finances. He actually agreed to go because he’s that kind of guy.
So, we started unpacking all of our “baggage” and family stuff and, most importantly, learned how to communicate effectively. We built the foundation of our relationship right out of the gate and worked on some key issues. It’s not to say we don’t have disagreements because we do. Every healthy relationship has them. It’s how you work them out and talk to each other that matters. Below are some communication and relationship strategies we found to be the most helpful.
- Active Listening: Be open and get out of your head. Truly hear what the other person has to say. Be present with them in that moment. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about connecting.
- Validating: This does not mean you agree with what the person is saying. It lets them know you have heard and understood what they are telling you. “What you said makes sense?” You might not agree, yet you can see where the other person is coming from.
- Empathy: You understand what they are feeling about the situation. You can say something like, “I can imagine you might be feeling sad.”
- Support: Recent research indicates that the most important element of a fulfilling relationship is supporting and encouraging your spouse or partner in their interests and endeavors.
So, try putting these strategies into action and see how your relationship changes. I think you’ll be glad you did. Go out and enjoy your popcorn at the movies with the one you love. And, know you’ve done the work it takes to make your relationship have a happy ending.