Nurturing Relationships With Love, Acceptance, And Therapy
Sometimes, relationships are easy. Whether with friends, family, or romantic partners, it's a pleasure to love people through the good times. But there are also times when it's more difficult. It can be especially important to love and accept your loved ones during these moments, as they aid in building the foundations of a healthy relationship with trust and support. This article will address some tips and strategies from mental health professionals for nurturing relationships, whether romantic or otherwise.
Accept Their Differences
Rather than just tolerating their little quirks, consider making it a mental practice to extend love, kindness, and care toward your loved ones even when their differences are hard to understand.
While disagreements and differences in relationships are often unavoidable, psychologists theorize that our reactions to differences within relationships can make for a healthy or harmful bond. When conflicts arise, it can be beneficial to lean into your love for the people around you. Learning and mastering this skill can be endlessly useful throughout our lives.
Validate Their Experiences
Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand what a loved one is going through, whether they're struggling with mental illness, stressful experiences at work or in life, or just going through a hard time of late. In these moments, it's important to validate the experiences of the people you love and present opportunities for them to feel heard and valued.
Published studies reveal that listening is one of the most important factors in any healthy and loving relationship. Listening helps us to tune into one another and the present moment, bond, and understand one another. In addition to listening, it can be important to ensure your loved ones know that you respect their feelings and opinions, even if you don't always understand. Mental health professionals recommend that in these moments, you communicate that your loved one’s experiences are valid, that you hear them, and that you have the desire to understand.
Learn Their Love Language
Five Love Languages is a philosophy pioneered by psychologist Gary Chapman that encourages partners to discover the ways in which the other communicates affection, and how to respect these different forms of showing love.
The five love languages include gift giving and receiving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Those who express love through gifts might buy their loved one an expensive present such as jewelry, or enjoy being treated to a nice dinner, for example. People who express love through words of affirmation often approve of both giving and receiving positive verbal feedback, and frequently express their love in words. Those who express love through an act or acts of service might cook a nice meal, for example, or run errands for those they love. People who prefer physical touch, meanwhile, enjoy hugs, snuggling on the couch, and desire being physically close to their loved ones.
While everyone may enjoy different aspects of these love languages to various extents, most people have one or two that they identify with most. In addition, the language that they are most likely to communicate with tends to be the language that they prefer to receive love in as well.
By identifying the love languages of your loved ones, you can better understand the way that they express their love to you, while also better expressing yourself to them in turn. While some love languages might be relatively foreign to you, you can try to add them into your daily life to more effectively communicate and interact with those you love.
Practice Clear Communication
Communication is one of the most important factors in a healthy relationship. In fact, a lack of communication can damage even the best of relationships. By communicating clearly with your loved ones (and listening), though, you can better avoid misunderstandings or unintentional conflicts and foster mutual understanding and respect. Experts recommend that you think before you speak in any case, and clearly and rationally discuss any arguments or differences of opinion between you and the people you love. Even if you don't ultimately come to the same conclusion, you'll be able to express yourself and your concerns in a healthy and constructive manner.
Communication also helps you ask for and receive help from the people you love. If you're able to clearly communicate when you're feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or like you need help, other people will be better able to help you out. Similarly, by talking over issues and stressful situations with a partner or loved one, you can make sure that you support them to the best of your ability. Resist the urge to argue. Instead do your best to ensure that the conversation remains calm and open.
Even in the small instances of everyday life, communication can be a great foundation for a healthy relationship. Try to set aside a little time to spend quality time with those you love, whether that means breakfast with a partner each morning, a hike with a friend, or a weekly phone call home to your parents. Keeping the lines of communication open will ensure that your relationships continue to grow and thrive.
Make Time For Those You Love
Even if your love language isn't "quality time," making time for those you love is still an important part of any healthy relationship. Spending time together cements the bonds of a relationship and allows you to experience new things and make memories together. It can be difficult to spend time with all your loved ones when you're already overwhelmed by work, school, or life. Yet, investing in this quality time can actually have a positive effect on other areas of your life and may help minimize issues like low self-esteem, loneliness, or symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you're looking for ways to spend more time with loved ones, consider dedicating one day (or even just an evening) a week to spending time with them. Put aside work, obligations, and other activities, and focus on your time together. If you have similar interests, consider participating in an activity together that both of you can enjoy, whether that be a movie, a class, or just going for a walk together. Quality time will help give your relationships the space and attention they need to blossom.
Accept Hard Times
While we may desire our relationships to be effortless and easy, the reality is that relationships are frequently full of difficulties, challenges, and periods of struggle that we can’t really control. Even without factoring in other people, life can throw you tremendous curveballs. Add others into the mix, and you can often be surprised and overwhelmed by life's natural, and sometimes unpleasant, twists and turns.
Even when the going gets tough, it's important to accept your loved ones through difficult times, transitions, and upsets. A strong relationship can weather these storms and emerge to peace and sunshine on the other side. Even if you fear that you're close to the breaking point, consider communicating your love and acceptance to the people around you so that you can tough it out together.
If someone you love is going through a difficult time, it's especially important to remain by their side and help them through it. Try to offer support and loving encouragement, but also leave them alone if they need or desire time to themselves. Remind them, if needed, that taking time for space and self-care is not selfish.
Accept that they might not be happy or present while struggling with bigger issues, and try to provide them with what they need to overcome the challenges they face. Remind them that we cannot control everything, but we can control our behaviors and how we respond to difficult things in life. This reminder in and of itself can sometimes provide a sense of catharsis, relief, and freedom from worry.
Celebrate Good Times
Once you've weathered a few storms in your relationship, whether with your romantic partner, family, or friends, it's beneficial to celebrate the good times when they come. It can be easy to focus on the negative in relationships and life, so celebrate happy occasions, achievements, and simple pleasures.
Even when you're caught up in the hectic rush of everyday life, it's important to take a few steps back and reflect on the ways in which your relationships with others benefit and enrich your life. Whether you have a huge network of friends and acquaintances or a few true-blue people in your life, these relationships are part of what makes life worth living. Make sure to celebrate with your loved ones when you can, and let them know how important they are to you with a present, some kind and genuine words, a hug, hanging out at a special place, or whatever form of kindness and expression is most meaningful to you both.
Counseling is a common tool that couples and families use to navigate difficult times. Often, people experiencing troublesome relationship issues also juggle other responsibilities like work, school, and extended family obligations. This can present a barrier to getting the help they need to manage their relationships.
In contemporary society, online therapy has become a feasible alternative to in-person counseling. Not only is it more convenient than commuting to a therapist’s office, but it’s also been shown to be just as effective in terms of client outcomes.
No matter how much effort you put in, however, there can be challenges when it comes to relationships. If you're struggling with your relationships with others, it's never a bad idea to seek out a professional's opinion and guidance. Here at BetterHelp, we have a variety of online therapy services and tools that can help you navigate the world of relationships and beyond.
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