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Good Relationships Don’t Just Happen

February 11, 2021

If a worldwide pandemic has taught us anything (other than the importance of washing our hands, maintaining social distance, and on a humorous note, how much humanity values toilet paper), it’s the inherent value of relationships — and the intentionality it requires to maintain those connections.

Like anything worth pursuing, good, meaningful, life-giving bonds don’t happen in a vacuum, according to recent findings in Entrepreneur. Effective communication skills, the backbone of healthy, stronger relationships, aren’t something naturally built into our genetic code. Rather, they are learned, cultivated, and developed over time with deliberate effort. ]

The bottom line? Relationships take work.

So, what exactly are the secrets of relational success, whether in romantic relationships, friendships, or professional connections? Interestingly enough, there’s noticeable crossover in what helps build and improve our relationships, no matter what kind they are.

Knowing When It’s Your Turn to Talk

When thoughtful questions and good listening happen regularly in a relationship, people naturally tend to open up and share more, which helps strengthen the bond.

Sometimes the easiest way to be a better friend, officemate, partner, or spouse is to stop talking and focus on listening, according to Fast Money.

It’s no secret that one of our universal desires as human beings is to be heard. But how often do we find ourselves brainstorming what we’ll say next rather than listening to the person who’s speaking to us? While it may take a bit of practice to engage in active listening, the benefits allow for a better understanding of the other person. Listening provides validation, allows for healthy give-and-take, requires you to flex your patience muscles, and allows you, the listener, to respond with empathy.

On the heels of being a good listener, it’s also important to ask the right questions. These aren’t inquiries meant to fill conservation gaps. Instead, good questions offer an opportunity to make sure you understand where someone is coming from.

At work, this can help with problem-solving as a group. At home or with a friend, being able to articulate what someone is truly saying, right down to understanding their nonverbal cues, allows for a more informed response.

When thoughtful questions and good listening happen regularly in a relationship, people naturally tend to open up and share more, which helps strengthen the bond.

Setting Boundaries, Not Barriers

When conflict arises in a relationship, it’s tempting to want to gloss over it. Pull back. Retreat. Throw your arms up in the air.

Of course, given that disagreements are inevitable when human beings are involved, it’s important to find a strategy to prevent your feelings from being bottled up and for resentments to simmer beneath the surface. In many cases, the lack of healthy boundaries can be a barrier to maintaining and prioritizing your mental health and well-being.

While some may confuse personal boundaries with keeping someone at arm’s length, healthy boundaries actually allow for closer relationships. When the needs of the other person are respected, there’s freedom and trust. As a result, boundaries help reduce stress and pave the path for clearer communication.

How to Spot an Unhealthy Relationship

No doubt, relationships can be stressful. And when stress piles on, it can be harmful, not only to the relationship but to the mental and physical health of those involved.

While periods marked by difficulty can be managed, some relationships are downright unhealthy, even toxic.

So, what separates a relationship that’s going through a rough patch from one where you’re regularly feeling depleted, drained, even distraught? Ask yourself the following:

  • Is this a situation where there’s little giving and all taking?
  • Is there any joy left, or are you feeling a steady stream of mental, emotional, and/or physical strain
  • Is your relationship suffering from a lack of trust?
  • Is there a lack of communication, a deficit of support, a constant shower of negativity, or all three?

If any of these resonate with you, it’s important to listen to your gut and address these issues immediately and with brutal honesty — especially if they’ve clouded your relationship in a way that affects your physical and mental health (or both). In some cases, the only path to freedom is by extricating yourself from the relationship.

But if it’s a relationship worth saving, an investment in establishing boundaries, re-gaining trust, and re-establishing what was positive in the first place should be first priority.

Is Your Relationship in Need of Healing?

Couples BootcampLet’s face it, it’s not always easy being married or in a committed relationship. Life is hard, and when you factor in what you or your partner has experienced in the past, along with the present, some fractures may happen along the way.

But for couples wanting healing and a healthy path moving forward, the Couples Bootcamp at Rio Retreat Center can help you work on your relationship in a safe environment.

In a small group setting, the workshop allows for a holistic experience where couples guided by therapists trained in PIT (Post Induction Therapy) and PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy) can build on existing strengths by practicing how to address painful issues. You can learn strategies for improved communication along with new rules for engagement and implementing boundaries. Click here to sign up today!

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