For any relationship to grow and flourish, they must be cultivated and nurtured with dedication like a garden. Who can imagine and quantify the measure of joy, meaning and appreciation a beautifully fulfilling relationship brings to life? Conversely, as some painfully find out, the pain of a shattered romance is incomparable to none in weight and substance, especially from someone so dear to us.
 “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is a quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”Ann Landers
It’s important to stress that no relationship is conflict-proof if the partners involved are honest with themselves. In fact, a study from Florida state University found out that couples in healthy relationships fight often, averaging one argument a week. However, the unique difference is the honest conversation that follows the initial disagreements.
So it’s okay to be angry but like the Bible instructs; do not let the sun set on your anger. Better still, your anger must be controlled to avoid ranting like a sailor.
In “The Normal Bar” survey involving 100, 000 participants, 90% of the happiest individuals said they have never cursed their partners. This is what is meant by ‘Fight Nice’.

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
? C.G. Jung

“Relationships-of all kinds-are like sand held in your hand. Held loosely, with an open hand, the sand remains where it is. The minute you close your hand and squeeze tightly to hold on, the sand trickles through your fingers. You may hold onto some of it, but most will be spilled.
A relationship is like that. Held loosely, with respect and freedom for the other person, it is likely to remain intact. But hold too tightly, too possessively, and the relationship slips away and is lost.”
— Kaleel Jamison

 

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Relationships thrive on romance and genuine compassion but it is troubling that more than 40% of marriages end in divorce. This is a painful revelation that relationships are becoming more challenging to nurture in our times. The foundation of  a healthy relationship is secured when each individual take care of themselves first, a prerequisite for mutual love and respect eventually.

An open diary on the relationship, emotional support and regular communication are invaluable to improve the quality of your life and your partner’s. You can easily take for granted that because it is easy to co-exist together with your partner, love should propagate on auto-pilot. After all you’ve done the laundry, hit the home run on time and even prepared the family dinner. Did you forget anything? Oops! the most important factor-your partner of course. Oh Dear!

It’s time to put some spark and add a little love to your to-do-list:

1. Open Talk:

Constructive and engaging heart-to-head talk is crucial for couples to practice on a regular basis. couples must develop the habit of checking up on each other regularly outside just routine parenting and household responsibilities. Time must be allocated to discussing personal and deeper subjects on a daily basis if you want to bond with your partner over the long haul.

Remember to adopt different mood and communication styles when discussing challenging and touchy subjects. On whether couples will go on to divorce or weather the storm together, research has shown that stressful life events, commitment levels and personality traits are less important than communication style. Specifically, increased destructive communication patterns like resentment, poorly controlled temperament and anger are strongly linked to the possibilities of couples going their separate ways.

2. Emotional Support

It pays to find out how your partner shows his or her affection for you without being presumptive. This requires you being accommodating and receptive to reasonable compromise without insisting your ways are dominant all the time. Criteria and boundaries don’t necessarily have to be absolute and rigid. Emotional support keeps romance alive, while romance in turn thrives on giving attention to the often-ignored little things like gestures, body language and choice of words.

The little things are the building blocks of healthy relationships and according to Health’s contributing psychology editor, Gail Saltz, stringing together these little things continuously create positive changes in relationships.

3. Laugh Together

Laughter is a potent expression of emotions in a delicate frontier like relationships–amusement, amazement, joy and surprise. Laughter lightens the mood and eases tension thereby providing the smooth sailing of communication, romance and ultimately acceptance.

A study by Psychologists Rod Martin, Ph. D, of the University of Western Ontario and Herbert Lefcourt of the University of Waterloo, revealed that burned-out folks with powerful sense of humour had decreased depression and were less anxious with the signs of our times.

Marriage receives tremendous boost when couples share jokes together. Passion is heightened and connection among pairs is strengthened according to the study carried out by lecturer and researcher, Laura Kurtz in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina. The study specifically examined the effects of laughter on relationships rather than on individuals alone.

 

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4. Try New Things

It can get challenging staying connected with your spouse amidst career, kids and peripheral commitments. Ignoring the need to rekindle togetherness often leads to irreparable damages down the road. In a study on family cohesion and relationships, researchers found couples that complained of dwindling passion and boredom seven years into their marriage where less pleased nine years into their union.

To keep the spark alive, some couples plan regular outings days and weeks ahead. Try new interests like reading a new book every month and discussing it together, visiting the country side away from city madness, shopping together, learning to play the piano, preparing a new recipe every week and learning a new language.

In all, the most powerful force so far is worshipping together. The spiritual influence on relationships is immeasurable.

Author: Dr Andrew Okpetu