The month of February brings up visions of valentine hearts, flowers, and sweets. Valentine’s Day creates the opportunity to focus on our loved ones and acknowledge their importance. When we acknowledge someone’s importance by nurturing the relationship we are cultivating a healthy relationship that will be able to weather the storms of life. Nurturing a relationship can take many forms. The more nurturing skills we have in our repertoire of behaviors, the healthier our relationships will be.
In order to embrace a conscious proactive nurturing process, one must start by taking a personal inventory of one’s personal beliefs. These beliefs are the underlining forces that create our value system which in turn build healthy or unhealthy relationships.
Some examples of healthy beliefs are as follows:
- I can only change myself and I can choose to change or not.
- We become empowered when we make the decision to control our own behaviors instead of others.
- Conflict is an essential part of life, and it presents us with an opportunity to learn a missing skill or let go of a limiting belief.
- Love is the best motivator for learning and growth.
Since we are well aware that the storms of life will come, we need to build a strong Love foundation in our relationships. We can consciously create and practice good habits that nurture the relationship.
Some examples of good love habits are:
- Listen and learn your partner’s, child’s or friend’s way of looking at life. What do they value most of all and how do they build their self-esteem and self-worth. How does that person fill their emotional “love bank”. We can use the Five Love Language by Gary Chapman. Ask your partner, “When do you feel the most loved by me? Do they feel loved when you give them Words of Affirmation, or when you give them Quality Time, or when you do Acts of Service for them, or when you give them a loving touch, or when you present a gift or token of your love? We all have our own love language. Do you know how you feel most loved? We need to speak our partners and our children’s love language in order to fill their “love banks”. If a person has a full “love bank”, they are more likely to be less defensive, more trusting, more cooperative and able to see the good in you.
- Practice healthy conflict management by learning how to use “I messages”. In doing so, one can take responsibility for their words without pointing the finger at anyone. I messages also allow for the person to express how they are feeling.
- Practice gratitude on a daily basis. This skill allows you to focus on the positive which also feeds your “love bank” and the” love bank” of others.
- Since we are not perfect human beings we are going to make mistakes, so therefore we need to know how to mend relationships by apologizing and seeking forgiveness. We must learn what exact behavior we have done to damage the relationship and we must learn a new skill that will keep us from doing damage in the future.
According to Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman, four of the most damaging behaviors a person can do are: Criticism, Contempt (attacking a person’s character), Defensiveness and Stonewalling. These behaviors done over a significant amount of time can damage a relationship and are predictors of divorce in marriages.
Healthy Relationships don’t just happen, they must be protected and nourished just as you would a precious red rose with sunlight, water, plant food, pruning etc.
Creating time and commitment must be a part of a healthy relationship in order to develop strong pillars of respect, trust and support, honesty and accountability, shared responsibilities, and healthy negotiations and fairness.
About the author: Olga Roman Roberts LMFT
Olga Roman Roberts is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 12 years of experience with individuals, couples, children and families. Olga has worked with individuals struggling with various issues: i.e. Conflicts in relationships, grief and loss, domestic violence, martial conflict, addiction, depression, anxiety, PTSP, and child behavioral issues.
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