Being in relationship is one of the most challenging things we will ever experience in out lives. It is not easy, because through relationships, we find out who we are. We find out things about ourselves that we would never know. Something will trigger us and we start feeling all sorts of emotions; anger, rejection, betrayal, annoyed, judgmental, and of course we usually blame the other person for how we are feeling. What we fail to recognize is, our feelings are not about them, but us, and how we are interpreting the triggering events.
10 ways to build healthy relationships:
1. Always treat others the way you want to be treated. We all have value and if we look at each person that way, it will be easier to treat them with respect. Harsh words or judgmental attitudes turn people away and they do not enjoy being around us. The way you talk and act toward them, tells how much you value them.
2. Do not talk down to people. Don’t start questions out with “Why”. That puts them on the defensive and it is taking the role of a parent in an authoritative position. Instead, let the person know in a nice way, how their behavior affects you and take responsibility for your feelings. Make requests for change, do not demand it.
3. Do not take on other people’s stuff and try to fix things. Let them figure it out. Do not enable them by making the consequences of their choices not matter.
4. Remember that other people are not extensions of ourselves. Know who you are and let them be who they are. Stop trying to control them, so you can feel better. Don’t blame them for where you are. Take responsibility for yourself.
5. Be a good listener. Ask questions, when the time is right, to show that you are listening. Do not always talk about yourself and what you want. Be interested in what they need and want in the relationship.
6. Don’t expect the other person to make you happy. Happiness comes from within. My husband and I say to each other, “I will take care of me for you, if you take care of you for me”. If our expectation is for the other person to make us happy we are going to be disappointed, because they are not perfect and they will mess up. Our world cannot fall apart when they do.
7. Be slow to get angry and quick to forgive. Building up resentment is destructive not only for the relationship, but ourselves. Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Remember who this person is and how important they are to you. Treat them with dignity and respect.
8. Let them know in special ways how important they are to you. Get to know their “Love Languages”. We all have different ways we like to be loved. The Five Love Languages are: Quality Time, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, and Touch.
9. Relationships take time and effort Be deliberate in taking care of them. Relationships grow because we feed into them things that help them grow. If we do not water our plants, they die. So do our relationships. Relationships are gifts. If they are meaningful to us we will take the time and energy to make them grow.
10. If you are in an unhealthy relationship and the other person is abusive and not treating you with dignity and respect, then take responsibility to make the changes in your life. We teach people how to treat us and if we stay in an abusive relationship, you are teaching them that the behavior is working for you. Why should they change?
Vickie Parker, LMFT
vickiemft.com, Online Counseling