Conflict is an inevitable part of even the best relationships. Whether you call it fighting, disagreeing, or discussing, most relationships could benefit from less suppression of feelings and more honest effort to resolve conflicts. If you claim you have never had a conflict in your relationship, chances are one of you is not expressing their opinions or needs and this will most likely result in a build-up of resentment.
Typically when we think of spending vs. investing, we are talking about money. You can likewise invest your time in your relationship, rather than just spending your time together. When I say, stop spending time together, I mean stop wasting the precious time that you have together. How do we waste the precious time we have for each other?
As you think about the state of your relationship, I hope that you will take the time to evaluate your expectations for your partner and your relationship. Although it is great to consistently strive to improve your relationship, there is a danger of slipping into criticism when expectations are not met.
Traditions represent a critical part of family culture. When you join two family cultures together, in a marriage or relationship, you have important decisions to make about what to keep and what to let go and how to create your unique family culture. The idea of developing traditions may sound stuffy and old-fashioned, but they can be fun as well.
The key to developing resilient relationships begins with the connection that you have with your self. Other than your relationship with God or your higher power, your most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. All your relationships will reflect and be influenced by how you treat yourself. If you are struggling to love and accept yourself, it will be difficult for you to trust or feel the love offered by your partner.
Giving gifts is one way to demonstrate love for your partner. Gift giving has the potential to bring joy or hurt, disappointment or friction in your relationship. Whether it is gifts of love or material gifts, putting some thought into the gift can result in enjoyment rather than disappointment.
The following are some thoughts that may be helpful:
At times in relationships, we let our feelings get the best of us. Some people allow their anger to cover hurt, sadness or fear and then attack their partner by unloading a dump truck full of venom and frustration on them. This venting type of communication is completely aggressive. Others tend to stuff their feelings and upset, making cryptic comments or saying nothing at all.
Setting goals as a couple may help you revitalize and increase your relationship satisfaction. Standing water stagnates where moving water remains fresh and the only difference between standing water and running water is motion. Setting and working towards goals helps you add motion to your relationship as you consciously work toward and create the life you want for yourselves.
It may be sad or comforting to know that all relationships at some point reach the buyer’s remorse phase. At this point, one or both start to wonder or question. Couples start to think things like, "this is not what I signed up for" or "why should this be so hard?" They have probably bumped up against issues and problems and been unwilling or unable to resolve them. They have inevitably been hurt and may have developed patterns of reacting to each other that make things worse rather than better.
Have you wondered why the very traits that attracted you to your partner in the first place, can become the traits that later drive you crazy? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that often our biggest strengths are also our biggest weaknesses. Without balance, our strength may become our downfall.
There is unfortunately too much truth in the observation that we hurt those we love the most. We have these insecurities that seem to get triggered more easily by those we love. Once those insecurities are triggered our behavior can become less than stellar. Why do we respond the way we do? Our behavior does little to help us get our needs met. We get sucked into the drama, rather than finding solutions. The answer is …
Mental health by design means that you take an active role in strengthening your resilience. Your emotional and psychological well-being influences all parts of your life—how you think, feel and act. Your mental health affects how well you cope with the daily struggles that may come your way. Creating healthy habits can have a positive impact on your mental health. Be more consistent in doing the following:
1. Get enough sleep
Establish a wind-down routine—start about 30 minutes before sleep time. A guided meditation, calming music or sounds may help you relax. Aim for a cool, dark and quiet bedroom.
2. Eat well
A diet low in sugar and rich in healthy fats (including foods rich in omega-3 fats) can help you feel more energetic when you are awake and help you sleep better. Pay attention to how you feel after eating to help you determine which foods best suit you. Some foods may taste good, but leave your body feeling sluggish or bloated. The less processed the food, the better your body may be able to handle it.
3. Learn some relaxation techniques to help reduce stress
Mindfulness meditation, yoga, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can all help you let go of building tension. These practices can help you bring your mind back to the present moment and help you feel more centered. Acknowledging and accepting your emotions can help you process and release them, greatly increasing your stress tolerance.
4. Daily do something fun and active
Choosing something you enjoy to get your body moving makes it more likely that you will continue. Go for a walk with a friend or your dog, swim, cycle, dance. Tie something that you love to do, like watch a movie (in your home, walking in place in the aisle at the movie theater might be frowned upon) or listen to music, to moving your body.
5. Reach out to friends or family, make eye contact, smile and talk
The best results will come from face-to-face interactions with others. Be a good listener, find a good listener. Make sure you put your screens down and built some real relationships.
6. Find a cause, interest or passion
Having a sense of purpose gives you a reason to get out of bed. Some find meaning from involvement in religion, community or a cause. The important thing is that you are serving something outside of yourself. Find meaning in your work, volunteer, build relationships, care for a loved pet, or develop and share a talent.
7. Focus on what you can control and let go of the rest
Work on controlling your thoughts, words and actions. Give up trying to control anyone else’s thoughts, words and actions. Listen respectfully to others, make requests or suggestions, set your boundaries and choose your behavior, and notice or focus in on what is working.
8. Enjoy the present and express gratitude
Gratitude is an amazing antidote for toxic thoughts and feelings. When you choose to look around you for what is good and express gratitude, you will increase your happiness. Gratitude increases resilience and helps to protect your mental health.
Enjoying mental health does not mean that you will never have a bad day, or feel down or sad. Personal struggles are a normal part of life. Choosing to maintain your mental health will help you to be more resilient and better able to cope with and recover from difficulties. It will be easier to find the silver lining and rise above struggles.
When to seek professional help
If you have tried to improve your mental and emotional health and still find yourself struggling at home, work, or in your relationships, it may be time to seek professional help. The eight suggestions above are still beneficial. But a counsellor may help you move further along your healing journey than you can do alone.