One of the simplest yet profound teachings that greatly impacted my life is “Life is a relationship.” A teaching was given by Sri Bhagavan, the spiritual leader and founder of the Oneness University in India. There is an inextricable link between life and relationships. That as social beings, our lives gain meaning through the relationships we have.
Have you ever imagined what life would be like without your relationships? Can you exist without relationships?
We can think about our relationships in terms of the fundamental relationships we have with our parents and siblings. Then comes the relationship with our partners, children, friends, colleagues, extended family members and even our pets. So at an intrinsic level, we can think of “LIFE” as an expression of these relationships.
Just take a look at your life and remember how it feels when you’re enjoying good relationships with the important people in your life…Now look at your life again and remember how it feels when you aren’t having good relationships with these same people. Quite different isn’t it?
When we’re having good relationships, life is good isn’t it? When we’re not getting along with partners, family members, our children or our close friends because of disputes or fights, life somehow doesn’t taste so good, does it?
The quality of our lives is largely dependent on the quality of our relationships.
10 Useful Tools to Improve Your Relationship
1. Communication, Communication, Communication
An open, honest, two-way communication in this relationship is for me the most important tool to learn—because it’s in this relationship that the biggest miss-communications arise. Of course, disagreements can surface in all relationships and they very often do—many times erupting over the smallest things. But it’s in this particular relationship that our unresolved hurts can be triggered the most. When our partners trigger our past hurts, our immediate reaction is to jump into defensive mode in order to protect ourselves.
This leads to the closing down of our emotions and the shutting down of our hearts. When we close our hearts, we also close our potential to truly communicate what we’re feeling. Although I also understand that open communication is not something all of us feel comfortable with—but for me, the key to maintaining harmony in this relationship, when we’re feeling hurt is not to shut our partner out—But instead, open our hearts and minds to communicating how and what we’re truly feeling. We shouldn’t be afraid to communicate honestly, with the courage to speak our truth and to show our vulnerability.
Communicating from our hearts strengthens our connection to one another, allowing deeper levels of love to flow between us.
2. Learn to listen
Listening is a great skill we should all learn to cultivate. I’ve found in my own relationship that I give more time and energy to speaking but not enough time to really listening. I’ve discovered that I listen not to hear what’s being said, but in order to respond in defense of myself. This is not listening. Listening is to give attention to your partner when they’re speaking, showing interest by listening without talking over them, interrupting or judging what they’re saying. We can discover so much about our partners when we truly listen to them.
3. Accept your partner as they are
Many of the problems we face in our partner relationships arise because we want to change our partners. Yes, this is true! We think we will be happier if our partner would only be like this or like that. The truth is we cannot change the other; we can only change ourselves. So instead of trying to change our partners, why not try to see them with new eyes every day. Learning to accept ours and our partner’s individuality and differences will bring greater harmony to this relationship.
4. Develop respect for this relationship
Everyone likes to be respected and your partner is no different. Cultivating respect for this relationship and for your partner increases the trust between you, helping your partner feel more valued, appreciated and loved.
5. Make your partner feel special
You can make your partner feel special by recognizing their thoughts, ideas and by praising their efforts and triumphs no matter how small.
It’s nice to have our efforts recognized and appreciated, isn’t it? Doing this will foster good feelings between your partner and yourself, promoting greater love and understanding.
6. Have common interests
While it’s important to have your own interests, having common interests, pastimes, goals or projects with your partner will bring you closer together, will help you grow together and increase your mutual connection. Research has shown that having common interests helps spousal relationships last longer.
7. Work on not blaming your partner
When conflicts arise, try not to blame your partner, rather try to see your part in the situation. During your arguments an effective tool to take the finger of blame away from your partner, bringing responsibility for your feelings back to yourself, is to use “I” rather than “you” For example saying; ‘I don’t feel listened to’ instead of saying; ‘You never listen to me’.
8. Learn to let go
Learning to let go of old hurts is a particularly hard thing for most of us to do; our tendency is to hold onto everything. In this relationship, it’s very important to let go of the little things so they don’t develop into big things. Accept that you may have to back down in arguments sometimes, even when you feel you’re right. Do this in the interest of preserving peace in your relationship.
9. Quality time
Prioritise time to be together doing the things you both enjoy, have spontaneous physical contact and say “I love you” as often as you can. Make time for sex, take walks in nature, socialize or take trips abroad together. Another effective way to increase your bond is to spend time eating, meditating or praying together.
10. Have fun and laugh
Laughter is a wonderful healing tonic that both reduces stress and stimulates happiness by producing feel-good hormones that also improve your relationships. Allow your partner and yourself to be children and don’t be afraid to be silly. Do things that make you both belly laugh and have fun.
Now it’s over to you…
Share your relationship breakthroughs with us in the comments below!
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