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5 Keys to a Healthy Relationship
Relationships in the Modern World
It seems that everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with messages suggesting that our relationship doesn't measure-up to everyone else's. 'Getting Enough?' 'How to Enhance your sex life.' '8 Reasons why Men Cheat.' Are just a few of the headlines that capture our attention as we browse ninemsn, Facebook, Twitter and the like.
In the modern world, we compare our relationship to our friends, celebrities, key figures in the media and couples we see on T.V adverts. Hell, I even had a friend who compared her relationship to a porn star, concerned that she wasn't having enough sex with her then- boyfriend.
Generally, in our relationships we are concerned with (in no particular order):
A) Whether or not we receive flowers/ gifts/ other material gestures often enough from our lover thanks to consumerism.
B) How often he/she puts the bins out, cooks dinner, cleans the house or helps out in general compared with Mr. and Mrs. Jones down the road.
C) How many orgasms are being had week to week- because such and such sex Dr says a 'healthy' sex life is 3-4 times per week.
D) Whether or not our man/ woman is as sexually attracted to us as he/ she is to Miranda Kerr, Orlando Bloom, (or insert other celeb hunk here).
E) Whether our relationship is going to survive the latest hurricane that has come our way.
It's high- time that instead of searching externally for the answers to our relationship queries, we look within. It is here that we will discover our needs. We could also turn to our lover for clarity on what we they want and need, and from there we can discover how to meet one another's needs.
5 Keys to a Healthy Relationship
Key # 1
Find your Love Language
It is becoming common knowledge that everyone has a preferred love language that meets our deepest needs for loving intimacy. Some people may have 2 or 3 that are an equal need to have their needs truly met.
Read Gary Chapman's Book, The 5 Languages of Love for more information http://www.angusrobertson.com.au/books/the-five-love-languages-gary-chapman/p/9780802473158?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Books%20Titles%20%28Post%20Hybris%29&utm_term=The%205%20Love%20Languages
In a nutshell, they are:
1. Acts of service. You feel the most loved when your loved one makes you a cup of tea, puts the bins out or cooks you dinner.
2. Physical touch. You are deeply nourished when your loved one holds you, strokes your hair or gives you regular cuddles. You are not bothered by public displays of affection.
3. Gifts. You love to receive flowers, thoughtful gifts or handmade cards and other specially made crafts from you partner.
4. Words of Affirmation. You love to hear your partner speak the truth of what they notice and love about you. You feel seen and nourished when your lover verbally expresses gratitude and notices the little things.
5. Quality time. It is when your partner is truly present that you feel most loved. This is important to you on a regular basis. Perhaps daily, a few times a week or month. Depending on your personal needs.
Got an idea of where you sit on the love language wagon? The interesting thing is, that you will most likely also express your love through your preferred love language. Interesting ha? Get to work learning each other's preferred language so that you can truly speak it!! And be specific with what your love language entails in order for you to feel deeply seen and loved.
Key # 2
Foster clear and REGULAR communication
How? Most of us did NOT learn how to do this from our parents and families. In fact, I'm pretty sure I learnt quite the opposite!
One key element to clear communication is don't be afraid to ask questions. Need clarity on what your partner means by 'I'll put the bins out soon'? Ask them. According to relationship expert, Alison Armstrong (see link below), men and women can say the same word but both apply completely different meaning to it. For example, my man and I were off to dinner one night- but were both keen to come early for some quality time together (my love language). Huffing and puffing as we got in the car at 11pm, my man asked me if everything was OK. I replied 'I thought we were going to leave dinner early!' His response: 'We are!' In my head, I had thought early was 9pm. To him, 11pm was early to leave a social dinner on a Friday night. If we had clarified what meaning we had each assigned to the word 'early', we would have stayed on the same page and not gotten upset with one another.
Key # 3
Own your shadows
You know, those slippery suckers that rear their heads every now and then when we least expect it? Showing up as jealousy, fear, anger or something else?
The truth is, we all have our stuff. We must become masters at identifying what is our stuff and what is our partners, and take responsibility for that which is ours.
What is interesting to note is that a current situation can trigger a learned reaction from a similar situation that has been experienced in the past that helped shape our behavior in that type of situation. In short, trauma triggers trauma. My partner being home late from work used to elicit a host of tears and needy behavior from me. In time, I realized that my man being home late actually triggered my emotions from when my dad used to come home late from the police force in an angry and 'scary' mood. Any wonder my reactions to my man coming home late seemed over the top- they were, for the current situation. We are often reacting out of experiences from our past. Living in the past.
How can we become aware of these old programs we still run in our mind? Become curious like an archaeologist wanting to discover what's inside. Ask yourself- hmm, I wonder why I do this or that? It also helps if you can be in it together with your partner- instead of being annoyed with or adding to their over reactions, become curious. Ask why they may react a certain way after the storm has ended and they have returned to their balanced state. Become interested to uncover the inner workings of both your mind and theirs.
There are many practices available to help with this process. Conscious relating, Nero Linguistic Programming (NLP), and mBraining just to name a few. Belly breathing also helps with calming the frightened mind.
Key # 4
I know, it sounds cheesy and cliché. You can't love someone else until you love yourself. But it's very true.
The more you love yourself, the less concerned you become about whether or not your lover is going to leave you for Jennifer Lawrence or Justin Beiber. It IS possible, believe me.
I used to lose my mind whenever I THOUGHT my man was looking at another woman. I wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything except whether or not he still loved me.
Now there are times when I don't even notice whether he is looking at a beautiful woman. And since I have come to love and appreciate the beauty within myself, I can appreciate it in other women from a place of admiration and not jealousy. From this space, I can see that it is healthy and loving for us all to appreciate beauty within one another. After all, we admire nature's beauty all the time, and we are a part of nature :).
Schedule in some regular dates to get to know yourself- rediscover the things you love. Give yourself some nurturing by taking a candlelit bath or spending time playing golf. Find what makes you tick and lights you up. Fall in love with yourself.
Key # 5
Live your dreams and create your ideal life together
Chase your dreams, and support your partner to do the same. Maybe you always wanted to go hot air ballooning- make it a date for your next summer holidays. You hate your job and always wanted to be a school teacher? Get studying. Always wanted to travel the world but only gotten as far as Bali? Start planning. Find a way to reach your goals and achieve your dreams together.
Planning and goal setting is a great way to map out the things you want to do and achieve. Include short and long term goals in the areas that suit you. For example: Food, Exercise, Play and Adventure, Relationship, Career and Finances, Stress Reduction, Self Development and Home Environment.
Entrepreneur, Michelle Slayter has a great video on goal setting: http://michelleslayter.com/
You've heard it before- we only get this life once. Make what it is that you deeply desire, come to life. Play together, create together, LIVE life together. It's time to turn up the volume on your life- if merely surviving doesn't cut it anymore, then start following your dreams. Your relationship will be a lot more vibrant, full of life and healthier for it.