Lasting Love: 5 Simple Ways To Have a Healthy Relationship With Your Partner
If there’s one thing we have all understood as children growing into adults, it is this: relationships require hard work. And that can be said of any kind of relationship under the sun, be it a sibling relationship, a bond between parent and child and vice versa, friendships, lovers, or any other acquaintance worth having. Any connection worth preserving requires care, attention, an awareness of the moment and other factors that contribute to a relationship surviving the test of time.
Back in the day, we saw relationships having longer timelines, but those were also different times, and not necessarily did those relationships sustain happiness or have much of a choice in the matter. Many of our mothers and fathers, grandparents and great-grandparents, had stuck around for the sake of their children and their children’s children. Sacrifices were aplenty, and love was one of the greatest reasons for one to sacrifice all else - love for each other, love within families and within communities. Not all of those relationships modeled ease or perfection, and as it was, many relationships sustained out of convenience, fear, financial gain, for the sake of children, poverty, and in some cases, out of love. When we speak of the increase in the number of divorces and separations today and compare it to the generations before us, we end up negating the nuances of a time that contributed to their motivations and intentions. It is important to note that while relationships may have “lasted” not necessarily did they last out of sheer happiness or love, and that there could have been many other social factors at play.
So when it comes to talking on the subject of love, or more importantly, healthy love, it is best to look at our present times and discuss present solutions that are befitting the times we live in. When we fast-forward the past to today, a lot has changed when it comes to the way we perceive love and intimate relationships. As times went through drastic changes and overhauls, societies evolved, and along with it, the way we perceive each other and our relationships evolved too. Even though we grew up seeing the longer end of the rope of relationships, today we find ourselves most often at the shorter end. There is the knowledge and understanding that there is no one rule that ensures the stability and longevity of any relationship. There’s no one rule that fits all, and there’s no rule book either.
Understanding our times:
There are a barrage of problems we face today which have highly impacted ourselves and the ways in which we interact with the world. Intimate relationships are one of those few spaces for learning where we either have the opportunity to grow or the choice to stay stagnant. It is often said that relationships are like mirrors where we get to see parts of ourselves and each other and in ways that we would perhaps never see otherwise. And yet, today we see several relationships going through a crisis of their own, and oftentimes falling apart leading to gut-wrenching heartbreaks and other mental health downers. Divorces are on the rise, and that can be interpreted to be just as problematic as the institution of marriage in itself.
In the past there were many factors that worked in the favor of marriage like longer periods of courtship, timeless chivalry and romanticism leaking from the adroit politeness of the Victorian times, however, today is a new scenario altogether. Back then, women were considered property to give away, families were promised a relief from poverty, or a higher social status and the currency for the exchange was women. Not always did the women have a say, and sometimes neither did the young men. Over time, the meaning of love evolved, and the proof of the pudding can be seen in the romanticism that took over the world during the Victorian Era.
While some may say that we have become more selfish with our times, another might argue and say that it is that we have simply become more selective and aware of our choices and our fight for our individual freedoms. Sometimes this kind of independence can take us out of the inter-dependence that sustains relationships in the long run, and make us more inward and protected rather than outward, trusting and free. And more often than not, we get into defensive mode when there’s some kind of imbalance or gap in the way we perceive the world and each other. In such contexts, there are a few sure ways one can ensure a healthy relationship, and that requires mindful awareness of our own patterns, the patterns of our parents as well as the patterns that play out in our intimate spaces.
So that pegs the question of what makes relationships sustain in an ever-changing world such as ours? Here, we discuss a few healthy ways to perceive love and relationships, and this would apply to anyone out there, whether you are in a relationship, or choose to remain single.
5 Ways to Have a Healthy Relationship With Your Partner:
One of the most common reasons many couples fall out today is due to poor communication skills. It is either that we have very little idea of what we want in a relationship, or that even if we are in a relationship, we have very little idea on how to stay in one because we lack proper communication skills.
Relationships are like mirrors that we hold out with the person(s) we’re intimate with. This mirror has the power for deep transformation as it stands to reflect the past, present or the future and shines light on areas that may be unhealed inside of us. When we are able to spot an unhealed pattern, or an unhealthy pattern of relating to our partner, the onus is on us to make the necessary changes that will restore balance to any relationship. When two people are together, there will always be the likelihood of them rubbing off on each other, and vice versa. Communication involves not only hearing someone out, but truly listening to them and what they are trying to say, and respecting them enough to value their perspective. Our likes and dislikes are a huge part of who we are and how we see the world around us. So when there is something that isn’t liked, it is best to communicate it with your partner so that you can create a safe, trusted space in the relationship. Lack of communication can lead to passive aggression, resort to violence, misunderstandings, mistrust, making assumptions about one another and so much more. Communication is key to the foundation of any healthy long-lasting relationship.
For many of us, boundary-setting is not something that we witnessed at home or saw play out in the world. However, this is one of the main reasons many of us lose out on a wholesome relationship as lack of boundaries could lead to enmeshment, emotional and physical abuse, codependency and could ultimately lead to the downfall of any relationship. Knowing your preferences and then setting boundaries around them helps us all have healthier relationships with ourselves, our loved ones and the world. When relationships have no boundaries, there’s often an overlap, agitation and frustration that seeps in which is often aggravated due to poor communication skills.
Setting a boundary could mean anything from “I don’t like the way you talk to me in front of so-and-so”, or it could be “I need to take some time apart to recharge and feel myself again, I request you to respect my space”, or “I don’t like the way we are talking to each other right now, can we take some time apart and then resume?”. We set boundaries for our own safety and protection so that we avoid falling into the trap of loving someone else at the cost of our own selves.
Self-love is at the foundation of any process of boundary-setting and the ultimate realization that one cannot change the world even if one tries, but one can always change oneself. Boundaries are healthy not just for you, but also the people who interact with you, and it sets the stage for a healthier way of communication that respects and values all parties involved.
A lot of us don’t realise the extent of childhood trauma or childhood patterns that repeat itself or play out in our relationships. In any session of therapy, one of the first things a therapist seeks to understand is the family background and childhood of the person seated in front of them. The reason therapists rewind to the past is because many times it is the past that helps us understand behaviours of the present, and when we understand, there’s greater change for an effective solution. Many of our subconscious behaviours stem from what we have seen and observed in our surroundings, and a lot of the time it is hard to recognize if a behaviour is healthy or unhealthy. For those who are self-aware and practice mindfulness, it is easier to spot when the mind starts to replace the heart, and when realisation hits, it is also possible to course-correct, transform and heal ourselves through an insightful and intimate journey with ourselves and our partner.
The difference between independence versus interdependence is a lot like the comparison between a single root versus a banyan of roots steeped together. Like the saying goes, “a cord of three strands cannot be broken”, similarly, a chord of interdependence is always a more rooted approach to any relationship rather than single-minded independence. Interdependence is where the root is sucking just enough from the mother tree such that there is enough for the mother tree and enough for the surrounding roots as well. In the process of taking, the root is also giving thereby nourishing the entire tree in the process.
Taking time alone is one of the best ways to ensure that a strong foundation is set in your relationship early-on. The more one spends time with themselves, the more we realise our patterns, triggers, preferences and dislikes, and that helps us to set better boundaries and terms of engagement with the world. It is in that alone-time that our hearts truly expand if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and honest about our needs and desires. It must be stressed enough and more that spending time apart is just as important as spending time together. When a couple is not able to spend time by themselves and in solitude, relationships start to become enmeshed and dependent, and change the texture of our needs. In that alone time, we learn ways to make peace with ourselves, each other and the world, and this is where healing takes its true shape.
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