Why Relationships Matter
The word relationship is not limited to a single association. Relationships are of many types. You have relationships with your: parents, children, siblings, cousins, colleagues, teachers, partners, friends and so on. Their importance and intensity of involvement of course varies with each type. Nevertheless, they are a part of your daily interactions and play a vital role in your well-being. However, despite relationships being a central part of your life, your focus on building and maintaining these relationships remains next to none. In today’s world, you like others might not want to work hard towards the betterment of your relationships and might end up complaining that things are not going good in your life. Well this is the reason why many of your relationships are unhealthy or probably fail. Yes ‘Ignorance is bliss’ (rarely) but ‘Knowledge is power’ too!
It would not be wrong to say that the lack of knowledge regarding the basics of relationships actually reduces your quality of life. You seek some kind of knowledge/training for all that holds importance in your in life, such as: your career, any hobby, any passion, or anything else that you feel will add value to your life. Even if you did not properly study for it, at least you know the basic rules and regulations to be followed. You must have undergone some kind of training. Right? You are well aware of the basic rules for even a task as simple as cooking .. how to operate in the kitchen, what are the safety measures, how to behave near burning flame and so on. Correct? So, despite relationships having a central position in your life why don’t you bother learning about basics even?.. Is it so that you don’t even consider your relationships important enough to understand about their fundamental guidelines?
Did you know that a study conducted by Harvard University revealed a very strong association between close (positive) relationships and happiness? Hence, the better the status of your (close) relationships the happier you are. So, think about it, will life not be easy and peaceful when you have healthy relationships around you? And will it not be worth it to work on those relationships in order to live a happier life? Therefore, learning and understanding the basic guidelines regarding relationships becomes crucial. If you are able to implement these fundamentals in your relationships, you will feel a drastic improvement in the quality of your life.
In focus: Couples- WHAT GOES WRONG?
In today’s world, divorce rates are on the rise. Hence, there is an urgent need for couples to learn more about the basics of their relationship in order to have higher chance of the survival of their marriage. Therefore, now the attention is going to be diverted towards a more specific relationship.. The relationship you have with your spouse/husband/wife /partner (whatever you might call it) and what goes wrong with it. Why people face heartbreak and disappointment in sustaining this relationship and why and how can that be changed for the better. Any wrong ideas that you might have about love? And what can be done to improve your relationship with your spouse?
6 common ideas are going to be discussed which will hopefully add value to your relationship with your spouse. These ideas also somewhat generally imply to all other relationships you have. You will also get to learn that how much does your relationship status even define you.
Disclaimer: This list is not exhaustive. You can look into these and add more to them in order to make your own perfect mix of guidelines to follow.
1- Love is NOT unconditional (eventually)
You might believe that love is unconditional and no matter what you do or say, the other person has to love you regardless. This concept is wrong, because love is not unconditional. It can be unconditional for sometime but not for eternity. Think of it like this, even your car needs maintenance or else it will stop working after sometime… your house needs maintenance or else it will get untidy … Similarly, everything and every other relationship you have needs maintenance or else it/love starts fading.
Now, put your relation with your spouse in this context and think.. have you ever felt that your spouse is supposed to love you unconditionally? Regardless of what your behavior is like? You feel like you do not have to make any effort in order to make your relationship survive. You might even feel like it will just survive based on the few special things that you did for your spouse long ago?
You are wrong if you feel that way! Yes, love is effortless and therefore the effort you put in your relationship comes effortlessly.. even if it is as little as a genuine smile.. It can make a lot of difference.. and when you are doing something for your loved ones .. it actually doesn’t even feel like an effort is being made. Love is a constant work in progress and it keeps on developing day by day. Hence, you can’t, at any one point, say that you have reached your maximum potential because there is always more that can be felt. Humans are actually an amazing creation you know.
Still believe love is unconditional? Think about this! Why do you want your spouse to be loyal, honest, polite, caring and kind to you? These are also some conditions that you have set for your relationship.. you can say that you don’t complain if something goes wrong but you still do demand these basic traits. Right? and what if you don’t even get these basics? For how long then will your unconditional love be able to survive without these fundamental conditions being fulfilled? Even your parents don’t love you unconditionally. They would demand something in return .. such as respect or your time. Hence, if this relationship has conditions (one or many), then surely every other relationship does too.
So, if you believe that love is unconditional, you are surely mistaken! You need to change this way of thinking and start working towards improving your relationship instead of just sitting on it and waiting for the love between you and your spouse to die down. However, if love dies down before you make this change then you most certainly will go and only complain about the issues your partner had.. and you will never realize the mistakes you have made too. Correct? So be wise and know the right thing to do!
2-You deserve Perfection
You might be one of those who feels that your spouse is supposed to be perfect and he/she can’t make errors. You tend to forget that humans are made imperfect. There is no definition of a perfect human being. Do you know of anyone who is perfect? Yes, your love for someone (such as a celebratory) might make you say that ‘yes you do know’ but really think about it.. not even a single flaw? Of course there is.. as no one is perfect! Perfection is a trait only ‘The Creator’ (God) possesses as his name ‘ The Perfection’ states.. so let’s leave the perfection part to him. You as a human can always just work towards becoming a better version of yourself and try to reach a level of perfection which humans are capable of reaching. Every day brings a new opportunity for you .. so try working towards it.
Going further, in order to explain this better let’s consider the example of parents. You expect your parents to be perfect.. but why do you tend to forget that they are humans too? Your mother can be your caretaker but maybe not your best friend. Your father can be your breadwinner but maybe not as happy go lucky as you might see other fathers to be. Likewise, they can have many other flaws (according to you). So, if they do make a mistake how would you react? Would you be able to forgive them knowing that they are human too? or would you reject them? Similarly, Your spouse can be your best friend but maybe not good at expressing.. it can be so many ways.. All humans are imperfect.. just like you are.. and your children will too need to accept you for who you are, with all your shortcomings. Then why can’t you accept imperfection in others (especially your spouse)? ..when you yourself are anything but perfect.
You might have also made the mistake of putting your loved one on a pedestal and thinking that no matter what .. he/she can’t make a mistake. However, this is a wrong belief. You see, you do know that you are not perfect (as every other human) but you don’t acknowledge your own imperfections. Hence, you don’t realize that your spouse might find certain aspects about you to be imperfect. Imperfection can be in your behavior, your characteristics or any other form. However, the person you consider your life partner to be, that person has to be perfect. Right? How is that even a possibility that you expect your partner (a human like you) to be perfect? Doesn’t that make you a hypocrite? Hence, such a high expectation is one of the greatest mistakes you can make in your relationship. How can one person fulfill all your expectations? Well your expectations can’t come to an end but the capacity of your spouse surely can.
Relationships are not made to be perfect. They are made to be imperfect and loving the imperfection in those relationships is what really makes it ‘perfect’ and ‘true love’. This is a trait that a high quality and long lasting relationship most certainly has and is indeed the key to a healthy and happy connection with your spouse. Hence, having high expectations from your imperfect spouse can and will negatively impact the health of your relationship. So, have basic expectations from your partner.. and always keep this in mind that any shortcoming is a part of human nature! Having said that, you should always try working on your flaws and weaknesses as every day brings a new opportunity to do better than yesterday.
Has your mother ever compared you to any of her friend’s children? Almost all parents tend to do that.. at least once in their lifetime (be it just for fun). So, how does that feel? Does it feel good being compared to others? or it is just very annoying ? Yes! It is really annoying! The same way you annoy your partner by comparing him/her to maybe your friend’s partner? That is a real deal breaker.
It has already been established that no one is perfect and that there is no point in having very high expectations from your spouse. Then, how is it possible for you to compare your spouse to someone else? You have to stop doing this if you really want to work on your relationship.. and do not ever do so if you have never done it before! Know you are unique and so is your partner. If you dislike anything about him/her then you need to improve your communication with your spouse and think of ways to fix the problems you are facing. Telling your spouse off will certainly not do you any good, unless you want out of the relationship. Then it is all good!
Continuing from above leads to perhaps the most important of all points. All human relationships are based on communication. The quality of communication defines the state of any relationship. The better the communication, the better the relationship. As you must know, communication is of two types: verbal and non verbal. It is important for couples to work on both types of communication. Let’s try to make you understand as much as possible and as quickly as possible.
Let’s start with verbal communication. A few factors either improve or deteriorate the health of your relationship with your spouse. So, keep the below mentioned points in mind while communicating with your partner next time:
- Use ‘bridge phrases’/’encouraging words’ while listening: Such as: Really? That’s interesting; Can I do something to help?; I can understand; Don’t worry I’ve got your back etc. Use of such words actually reaffirms your partner that you are listening and he/she can trust and respect you. This leads to a deeper connection with your spouse.
- Something about your voice: Your tone, pace, volume actually matter a lot while communicating with your partner. So, be sure to keep a polite tone, gentle pace, and low/ medium volume while talking to your spouse. If any of these three are used inappropriately, it can turn a healthy discussion into an argument in just an instant because your spouse might feel disrespected.
- Words should be: Gentle, soft, considerate, positive and loving. This should be under all circumstances.
- Actively listen: Listen to understand not to reply. When listening to your partner, don’t think of the answer. Just focus on understanding and grasping all that is being said to you. This will drastically improve the quality of your relationship as you get to give more thoughtful and real answers to your spouse.
- Choose the right time: This is particularly necessary when you have to communicate about something important, for example do not tell your spouse something really important while he/she is tired or exhausted. Take out time and sit together to discuss important things when you both are fresh. This is so as your spouse will not be able to focus when he/she is tired.
- Reaction Damage: This is a simple one. Be silent when you are angry as speaking while you are not in the right frame of mind will just worsen the situation. Take time to calm yourself down so that your emotions do not get the best of you.
- Pick your words wisely: Never use abusive or inappropriate language while speaking to your loved one.
- Don’t be critical: Too much criticism destroys love in the relationship. Instead take a softer approach towards delivering your message.
Now lets look into a few basic non-verbal communication techniques:
- While talking and listening: Always turn towards your spouse while he/she is talking to you or you are talking to him/her. This is a basic psychological fact. Your quality of conversation will improve, as your partner will feel that you are paying attention to him/her.
- Listen Completely: Do not just listen with your ears, instead, listen with your eyes, heart and mind too.
- Phone is a BIG NO!: Leave your phone! Please! Even 20 minutes a day of healthy conversation with your spouse will convert your relationship into something beautiful and meaningful. Everyone wants undivided attention from their spouse.. and if they don’t get it, they surely will seek it somewhere else.
- Eye contact: Keep the eye contact going. Don’t look away while your spouse is talking to you. Your eyes are in reality the window to your soul. So, it really does help to build connection if you have proper eye contact while communicating.
- What else?: Nod and smile/show concern while communicating. Just be aware of your facial expressions during the conversation so you don’t look uninterested.
So, what would these verbal and non-verbal techniques do for you? They would show your spouse that he/she is valued. This will lead to an improvement in your relationship with your spouse. There are many more such techniques which you can look into… but these are the most crucial ones so be sure to implement these during your next conversation with your partner.
5-Restricted sense of: Compromise/Forgiveness/Ability to Apologize
In today’s world, every person is independent and people are mostly only concerned about their own well-being. Men and women, both have mutually decided that they will not compromise at all, they will not forgive and forget any mistake that their spouse has made (be it years ago). They also feel that they will lose their self-respect and self esteem if they apologize for any mistake that they have made.
These three are written together because they all fall in the same category (ego issues). This is one of the main reasons why so many marriages are failing these days. Yes, you are not supposed to be perfect for each other, you and your spouse both have to compromise and learn to be ok with it. Forgiving your spouse or asking for an apology from him/her, does not belittle you in any way.. just as they can make mistakes so can you.. and if you start leaving everyone who makes mistakes then God knows how many relationships will you have to change, and you might not still be able to find the right person for you. Having said that, it is not only your responsibility but also the responsibility of your spouse to follow these guidelines. This is so because in marriage there is no ‘me’ and ‘you’ instead there is only ‘us’. You and your partner are a team!! Not two different people!
You and your spouse are considered as ‘garments’ of each other. You might think why.. well this is so since just like your clothes protect and cover your body from cold/heat/getting hurt, similarly you are supposed to protect him/her from danger/disrespect and cover his/her shortcomings and vice versa. However, if the garment does get dirty, so do you! Think like this, if you spill tea on your clothes your image automatically looks unpleasant, you look untidy. Similarly you are supposed to keep the image of each other clean so that both are operating as a team and not as two opposite teams. This will automatically make you both look good. You are related to your spouse in such an exclusive manner. So, keep this in mind the next time you feel like getting angry or upset at your spouse.
6-Gifts increase love
The heading itself describes the entire situation. This one is short but equally important! So, just remember that exchanging a few gifts with your partner, be it a single rose every once in a while, will increase the love between you two.
Keeping the above in mind, it is crucial to note that sometimes the situation does get out of hand and despite you doing your level best you just can’t make the relationship survive. It is completely normal to experience that. The above might work for a few of you while others might have a toxic relationship, which is far beyond repair. You just need to understand where you stand in your relationship with your spouse and can it be fixed or not! More than that you also need to be aware that whether you even want to work towards it or is it already over.
You might be making this mistake of associating your self worth with the status of your relationship. If your relationship with your spouse is going through a rough patch, you might feel like you have no self respect (worth) and your life is aimless. Whereas, your life seems good if your relationship with your spouse is stable/good. You need to understand that your relationship status is not your entire life. It is just a part of your life. You are complete without a partner. If you want a partner, just be with him/her to add to your good life instead of feeling like he/she will make your life good. If it doesn’t work out with him/her, it is not the end of the world. Don’t wallow in self-pity and don’t play the blame game! You gave it all! It just was not meant to be! So, move on and start fresh. You are in charge of your life (mostly). SO TAKE CONTROL! Don’t let some past hurt control your life!
So my dear Human Fellow, work on your relationship today (if you feel it can still be fixed) in order to improve your quality of life. You surely don’t want to be one of those who didn’t realize the importance of any particular relationship until losing that person. Think about it.. Why do you and why should you have to only understand the significance of that person when he/she is no longer a part of your life? Why can’t you just appreciate him/her while he/she exists in your life. This is only going to benefit you at the end of the day, as it will make you a happier person.
Relationships aren’t burdens, they are reasons for strength.. Particularly the relationship you have with your spouse. So, working on it and giving it a try is totally worth it!
Also, always remember that you are gifted and you are very much capable of doing and achieving all the great things that you wanted to achieve in your life.. with or without your partner. Your relationship internally with your soul defines you and how well you are connected to God.. so be sure to maintain that and everything else will automatically fall into place.
Peace and Love!