By Mayank Jain, L&T MHPS
As we step into the second month of the glorious New Year 2018 when the chilling winters whispers us goodbye and everyone will not be in a mood to welcome the summers, we will be welcomed with the season of love, which though stays for a week but gives us memories lasting forever in our hearts. Yes, I’m talking about the VALENTINE’S WEEK, the festival of lovers, the celebration of love.
As we all are familiar with the history of Valentine’s Day, I will not drive this article towards further discussion about the day. The moment valentine word comes, everyone expects some romantic story or some romantic ideas will come up for them, but no, this article will not tell you some sort of a romantic fairy tale or some gifting or dining themes for your loved ones. This article is all about the bond, the relationship that we share.
For today’s youth, the new generation, being in a relationship has just become a Facebook status. They will tell you one of these three options – Single, Committed or It’s Complicated. It’s unfortunate that the new generation, when asked about relationships will talk of their girlfriend / boyfriend or for some might switch to weeping mode and will talk of their breakups. It’s saddening that the real meaning of relationship is unknown to hundreds of thousands of people.
Relationship is not just a romantic bond between two people. It is that thread that ties us to our spouse, parents, siblings, friends, animals or anyone whom we care about.
Unless you’re shipwrecked on a deserted island, you probably enjoy a handful of close relationships. From spouses to children to friends, parents, siblings and significant others, healthy relationships build self-esteem, improve mental and emotional health and help you live a fuller life.
“Relationships are — not surprisingly — enormously important for health, and there are lots of studies on the biological processes that account for the link between relationships and health,” says psychology professor Arthur Aron, PhD, director of the Interpersonal Relationships Laboratory at New York’s Stony Brook University.
The quality of our personal relationships also has an enormous impact on our physical health, as evidenced by a hefty number of research studies. We support each other in getting enough exercise, eating right, flossing — all the things that make for better health can be supported or undermined by close relationships.
For example, in the movie “Cast Away,” Tom Hanks’ character — stranded on an uninhabited island — creates a face on a volleyball and talks to the ball, which he names “Wilson,” as if it were a person. Though fictional and funny, the gesture illustrates something very basic about the person.
Relationships are a necessary part of healthy living, but there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Relationships, from acquaintances to romances, have the potential to enrich our lives and add to our enjoyment of life. However, these same relationships can cause discomfort, and sometimes even cause harm.
What makes for a healthy romantic relationship differs from person to person. Forming a trusting and positive partnership takes effort and time. And unfortunately, it doesn’t just happen overnight. For any relationship to grow strong and stay strong, you need to put in some work.
Below are some habits that will help create and maintain a happy and healthy twosome.
Communication is key. It is one of the most important qualities for a healthy relationship. However, not everyone knows how to communicate properly … or even communicate at all. Happy and healthy couples have this game down. They vocalize their love for one another, saying “I love you” often and offering compliments. They also discuss the bad instead of sweeping issues under the rug. To move forward and grow, you two need to be able to truly talk about your thoughts and feelings. No matter how awkward or uncomfortable it feels, it will make for a long-lasting and fulfilling relationship.
Aretha Franklin sang a whole song about it, so you know it’s got to be important. Respecting your partner comes in many forms. Maintaining a joyful relationship means respecting your partner’s time, heart, character, and trust. However, there are many things people do in relationships that can break down respect, like name-calling, talking negatively about the other with friends or family, and/or threatening to leave the relationship.
Quality Time, Not Quantity
It’s all about quality over quantity. It doesn’t matter how much time you and your partner spend together. The most important part is about the quality of this time. There’s a huge difference between having dinner at a table while talking about your day at work, versus having dinner while sitting on a couch watching a debate on the latest issue on the news channels. It’s fine to zone out together and enjoy distractions, but it’s crucial to make sure you two are still engaging and spending quality time together to maintain a deep connection.
Spending time together with your partner is important. But just as important is spending time apart. Being able to do your own things, pursuing your respective interests and hobbies, spending time with your circle of friends and maintain a certain level of independence is vital. When couples spend too much time together, it can create an unhealthy co-dependency. Maintaining healthy boundaries and some autonomy will make for a long-lasting partnership.
Gary Chapman came up with the notion that men and women have five love languages. People have unique ways of feeling loved. There are words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch. It’s important to know which love language speaks to you, along with your partner. Telling each other what makes you feel loved and special helps both of you stay connected. Furthermore, make sure you are attentive to your partner’s love language.
Often, we forget to let other people in our lives know that we appreciate them. We think it, but we don’t remember to show it. This occurs in our romantic relationships as well. Show your special someone that you love him or her. This could be done with words, cards, flowers, acts of kindness, or more. Remember, a flower a day keeps the fights at bay. Okay, maybe not every day, but you get the point.
Positive vs. Negative
Sometimes, we get caught up in the negative. We hate our jobs, are annoyed with our friends, and our boyfriend or girlfriend is getting on our last nerve. Uh-oh, have we been drinking too much of that half-empty glass? It’s vital that we look at our partner’s positive qualities, in contrast to the negative. Nobody is perfect, and that includes our significant other. So instead of focusing on the bad, let’s make a conscious effort to look at the good.
Choose Your Battles
There are arguments to be had in every relationship. It’s crucial to bring issues to the forefront, and work through the hard times together. However, I don’t think arguing over your SO using your favourite coffee cup should be one of those. Choose your battles wisely, because people in happy and healthy relationships do.
What Isn’t a Healthy Relationship?
Relationships that are not healthy are based on power and control, not equality and respect. In the early stages of an abusive relationships you may not think the unhealthy behaviours are a big deal. However, possessiveness, insults, jealous accusations, yelling, humiliation, pulling hair, pushing or other abusive behaviours, are — at their root — exertions of power and control. Remember that abuse is always a choice and you deserve to be respected. There is no excuse for abuse of any kind.
If you think your relationship is unhealthy, it’s important to think about your safety now. Consider these points as you move forward:
- Understand that a person can only change if they want to. You can’t force your partner to alter their behaviour if they don’t believe they’re wrong.
- Focus on your own needs. Are you taking care of yourself? Your wellness is always important. Watch your stress levels, take time to be with friends, get enough sleep. If you find that your relationship is draining you, consider ending it.
- Connect with your support systems. Often, abusers try to isolate their partners. Talk to your friends, family members, teachers and others to make sure you’re getting the emotional support you need. Remember, our advocates are always ready to talk if you need a listening ear.
- Think about breaking up. Remember that you deserve to feel safe and accepted in your relationship.
Even though you cannot change your partner, you can make changes in your own life to stay safe. Consider leaving your partner before the abuse gets worse. Whether you decide to leave or stay, make sure to use our safety planning tips to stay safe.
Lastly, I would summarise the whole article with the basis of a healthy relationship. A relationship is healthy when it is built between two persons based on –
- Mutual respect
- Separate identities
- Good communication
- A sense of playfulness/fondness
The Five Love Languages: A book by Gary Chapman