Day 7: Best Relationship Advice
Day 7: Best Relationship Advice
I have been around for a while so I have experiences of my own,I have observed others and I know. All in all, experience is the best teacher but still the wisest among us learn from others’ mistakes. Life is essentially about relationships and the choices we make which themselves have consequences. You have a relationship with your God, yourself, your spouse, your family, your friends and other people around you.
Man is a social animal, naturally seeking companionship of others as part of his well being. He goes about life looking for acceptance, affirmation, approval and acknowledgement. It gives us a sense of belonging.
It takes two to tango but no two relationships are the same because each individual brings something to the relationship and contributes to its joy or misery. It takes a lifetime to grow a rewarding, satisfying and lasting relationship. There is a very old song : Take Time to Know Her – it’s not an overnight thing. It takes a lot of work , commitment , dedication and sometimes some sacrifice.
What I am writing here is the best advice that I would give to my son and daughter- in –law or my daughter and son-in-law or any of my friends ‘children and their spouses. I would give it gladly with the intention of helping them create healthy relationship that will grow every day to enrich the two people in it.
From my own experiences, my observations of others and from what I have come to know for sure, these are the four main ingredients of a healthy,loving relationship:
- LOVE– True love is the foundation of any robust relationship.
With love everything is possible because love covers everything. This love starts from each individual loving, accepting and respecting herself /himself for who he/she is- strengths and weakness, the good, the bad and ugly. Filled with such love then you can go out confidently and love your partner for who he /she is not for what you want her/him to be.
I wasted a lot of time trying to change my husband only to find out later that the only person I could change was myself. You love unconditionally and polish it up every day with small acts of kindness otherwise it withers and dies.
There is one book that I wish I had read many times over early on in my life, I would have been a better companion but the book came out in 1992. It is called The Five Love Languages by an American Relationship counselor, Gary Chapman. Ironically, his marriage was almost falling apart when he came up with the ideas in that book and it saved his marriage. Chapman believes that there are 5 primary languages in which love can be expressed and be experienced in a romantic relationship. Each individual has a dominant and special way he/she wants love expressed to her/him. Failing to receive love in that form, he/she will feel unloved, uncared for.
The 5 primary Love languages are :
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
People give love mostly in their primary love language and expect it back in that form.
You can easily discover your spouse’s primary Love language by observing how he/she expresses love to you and what he/ she complains about in the relationship most of the time.
I speak the ‘ Quality Time’ language.
When you speak to the spouse in the language he/ she knows , you speak to her/his mind but when you speak to her/him in her/his own language you speak to her/his heart.
When you discover your partner’s primary Love language and speak it to her loud and clear 24/7, she will feel loved and cared for. This great feeling will fire her/him to give love back to you in your own primary Love language.
When you predominantly give me words of affirmation and yet I am for Quality Time, you could be speaking Greek to me as far as loving me is concerned.
This book is a gem and I would recommend it to anyone, young and old who is in a relationship. Reading it together, as often as possible, will take your relationship to greater heights day by day. Remember it saved Chapman’s marriage.
Feeling loved and cared for is an incredible feeling. Such love trickles through everything you do. You become creative and most times you create miracles of life- children, out of that love in your heart. The Taj Mahal, a palace in India was built by a Shah in 1632 to house the tomb of his favourite wife. Most master pieces of Art are created out of great love in the artist’s heart.
2. RESPECT– Like love, trust and loyalty , respecting your spouse starts with you respecting yourself.
Respect yourself for what you are as a human being; your strengths and flaws then you can confidently respect and love your partner for who he/she is and consider her/his wishes and feelings before making decisions. You respect your partner as an equal ; trust her/him and have faith in her/his judgment. You may not agree about things all the time but choose to disagree amicably.
Over time, as you get to know each other better, the respect tends to grow and you become each other’s best friend.
Oddly enough, you can love someone without respecting him/her but then that won’t be a healthy relationship and is hard to sustain.
3. TRUST- This is the faith you have in your partner that he/she will always love you and be loyal enough to stand by you. Each partner has to work to deserve to be trusted by the other. You have to mean what you say and do what you say. As actions speak louder than words, by your actions and behavior, you prove that you are dependable and reliable. It takes time and hard work for you to build enough trust in your spouse to feel secure and confide in you. Trusting one another brings out the best in each other thus contributing to the growth of your love for each other.The most absurd thing is that it takes long to build trust but it can be broken by one betrayal. Once trust is lost, it may take years to rebuild it.
4. Open and Honest Communication– I would say that this is what strings things together in a relationship. Social animals communicate with one another mainly for survival. We all fear what we do not know or do not understand so talking to one another, talking things through makes us secure. When you understand you forgive and then you love and when you love you never hurt but instead you protect your loved one. We communicate to be understood. Communication is about 40% verbal and about 60% non-verbal so observe the facial expressions, movements and gestures. Social interaction is essential for our emotional and mental well being.
Effective communication has to be open and honest;talk about everything and anything in your lives- no secrets. What you do not talk about has the power to enslave you. You express your needs , wants, desires to your partner to help her/him understand what you want from her/him. Both of you have to learn to be good listeners- listening with a third ear to go beyond understanding what is being said but at the same time pick unstated needs and fears. Listening to one another is a sign of respect. Without effective communication unwanted problems arise and small ones grow bigger.
I used to play Tennis in my youth, it taught me a lot of things about life itself.
A healthy relationship with two people in love with each other especially when united as one in marriage can be compared to a good Tennis game. A good player connects with the ball, anticipates and prepares and then hits the ball. The more you learn how to raise your partner’s game, the more you enjoy the game. In any exciting game, you are as good as a your opponent. You respond in such a way as to help your partner make it through the struggles. A good game always demands mental strength and total focus without distractions.
They say that to love is to be alive; engaging fully with life and your surroundings.