let go of resentment

Resentment Ruins Relationships: How to Forgive

Resentment stems from the unwillingness to show empathy first. If you give in and forgive first, you may be perceived as weak. So you do your best to prove your partner wrong and hold onto the resentment. And everytime you get into an argument you make sure to remind your partner of past mistakes, which you claim to have forgiven. But have you truly forgiven and moved past disappointment?

The right way to forgive and move past an unfortunate event in your relationship is to never bring it up in a present situation. Nothing good comes out of reminding your partner of past failures, or mistakes. You may think it serves as a reminder of the compassion you displayed when you forgave them, but it doesn’t. It leads to dead-end conversations and it deepens resentment. If you remained in a relationship after a negative event, then, by default, you agreed to forgive. So you might as well do it the right way.

There are four things you can do to ensure your forgiveness benefits everyone involved, and saves your relationship from a slow, painful death.

1. Label the baggage you bring into the relationship

It’s important to be aware of the baggage you bring into a relationship, and understand how it contributes to the way you deal with conflict. Sometimes, emotional scars from previous relationships leave us more sensitive to certain words and situations. As a result, you are more likely to overreact in a trigger moment.

Whenever you leave conflict unresolved you are feeding resentment. So learn as much as you can about what triggers resentment for you, and if the events that cause it are truly as severe as you believe they are. When you minimize the gravity of a situation you have an easier time forgiving.

2. Be mindful of unrealistic expectations

A lot of times the expectations we have of our partners are so high we wouldn’t be able to meet them. Be mindful of your rules, requirements, and why you’re implementing them. Is it due to past relationship disappointments? Are they a product of your upbringing? And would you forgive yourself if you broke those rules? Figure out why you tend to hold your partner to such high standards. Take a moment to assess yourself, and if you do not meet those standards, then it’s time to lower them. It will help greatly in the process of letting go of resentment and forgiving the right way.

3. Reminisce the positive side of the relationship

One of the most effective ways to let go of resentment is to focus your energy on happy memories. When resentment hits, make a conscious effort to counter your negative thoughts with positive ones. And whenever you overcome adversity as a couple, celebrate it and let go of grudges. Don’t hold them as reminders of each other’s shortcomings and flaws. The ability to let go is a key ingredient in keeping a relationship healthy and happy.

4. Address recurring fights

Recurring fights are your clues to deep rooted problems, which should be addressed. And resentment is the primary cause of these fights. When you leave past hurts unresolved they resurface, and they can turn a peaceful conversation into an argument. Before you know it, each partner is throwing hurtful words at the other in hopes of coming out the “winner”. But we all know fights within a relationship never yield a winner. The people involved are simply denting each others’ confidence and self-worth. And while so much effort is expended on proving the other person wrong, the relationship is nosediving.

Agree with your partner to have hostility free conversations that lead to resolution instead of anguish. The best way to do so is to remind each other along the way of the importance of staying cordial, and remain focused on the end result- complete forgiveness.

Reclaim happiness in your relationship. Start talking and healing old wounds. Forgive the right way, and don’t let resentment kill your relationship.

How forgiving are you? Take this forgiveness quiz created by forgiveness research pioneer Michael McCullough and his colleagues to find out.

Read next: 3 Signs Of A Toxic Relationship: How To Fix It

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relationship satisfaction

3 Easy Ways to Increase Relationship Satisfaction

Are you waiting for your partner to guess what you need? Do you focus on their flaws? Do you keep score of who-did-what? If you can relate, then you’re sabotaging your relationship satisfaction.

Few of us are aware of the damage these nagging situations cause over time. When you look at the big picture they may seem like natural relationship squabbles. But when these three scenarios happen on a daily basis, they slowly deteriorate the relationship. The ongoing frustration they cause leads to resentment, which leads to unhappiness within the relationship. And the truth is, most of us are guilty of at least one, if not all.

Whether you are in a long term relationship, or are married with children, there are things you can do to ensure these three situations won’t affect your relationship satisfaction.

increase relationship satisfaction

Here are three effective ways to increase relationship satisfaction:

1. Don’t wait for your partner to guess what you need, ask for it.

For instance, does your partner forget your birthday while you’d like to be celebrated? If so, don’t sulk or complain for their lack of consideration. Some people are truly not into celebrating things, and if you’re the opposite you will feel let down. Instead, let them know how much it means to you that they make your day special. Give them gentle reminders along the way. Their failure to celebrate you the way you’d like to be celebrated doesn’t mean they don’t care. It means, they simply don’t value it as much as you do.

The above example can apply to other situations as well. Such as your desire for more physical affection, or a need for space. Whether it’s a physical or emotional need you’d like your partner to fulfill, ask for it. Let them know how much it means to you, and how it makes you feel when those needs go unmet. Tap into the value of open communication without blaming, or complaining.

2. Don’t dwell on your partner’s flaws, highlight the qualities.

It’s so easy to point out what our partners are lacking, or the habits that annoy us. But if we focus too much on what’s lacking we miss out on what’s available. Our partners’ most prominent qualities are what made us fall in love with them. And those qualities are still there, but you must remind yourself of their presence.

We like to think that the grass on the other side is greener, but it’s not. Everyone comes with a set of flaws. It’s a matter of which ones you consider dealbreakers, or how they measure up against the qualities. It’s important not to overlook your partner’s attributes out of frustration, resentment or hardship. So next time you find yourself emphasizing your partner’s defects, think of the positive traits. It’s amazing how that shifts your mindset and increases relationship satisfaction. Our thoughts are so powerful they become reality. So think wisely.

3. Don’t keep score of who-did-what, appreciate what gets done.

Who-does-what in a relationship is a big source of conflict for couples. Life gets so busy and we all feel overwhelmed at times. And in those moments, we are tempted to confront our partners for not doing their part. But these types of confrontations always end with a sour taste. Instead of expecting your partner to do the things that overwhelm you, set up systems to equally divide responsibilities.

A relationship, like everything else, needs structure, consistency and dedication to thrive. So come to an agreement on dividing duties that leaves you both satisfied. Show appreciation for each other’s efforts. Remember, you are a team working towards the same goals. Make increasing your relationship satisfaction one of them.

Strive to see the glass half full in your relationship by staying responsive towards your partner.  Address frustrations as soon as they surface and communicate openly. It will pave the way for a more satisfying relationship.

How strong is your relationship? This quiz will help you find out.

Read next: 3 Signs Of A Toxic Relationship: How To Fix It

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Restore a Relationship

5 Questions To Help You Restore A Relationship

Are you about to give up on a relationship before truly giving it one last chance? To find out, look at a broken relationship the same way you’d look at an old house in need of restoration. A house that was once treasured, appreciated and admired by its owners. Instead of demolishing it, choose to restore it to its glory days.

To restore a relationship to its prime you’ll need to answer the following five questions. Use those answers as your blueprint to guide you through the restoration process.

Giving up on a Relationship

Question 1- What made you fall in love with your partner?

While it may be difficult to answer this question when your relationship is in shambles, it’s the most detailed answer you’ll want to give. It is the answer that will lay the foundation for the work ahead. So make an effort to remember and feel those first days when you were falling in love with your partner. What was the greatest personality trait you noticed in your partner? What did they do to make you feel loved, valued and happy?

You may be surprised to find out that those qualities you loved in your partner are still there. But they’re likely covered in the dust and ashes of your fights. We spend so much time focusing on what our partners are lacking that we bury those fond memories. It’s time to begin the digging process and repair the foundation of your relationship.

Question 2- What do you hate about your partner?

You may have a long list of the things you hate about your partner, and that’s fine. It’s important to list everything you can think of so you know which areas need restoring. But remember, sometimes, even the most beautiful masterpieces can’t be perfectly restored. Yet, that doesn’t stop us from admiring and treasuring them.

Now, I’m not implying you need to change your partner for the relationship to work. Instead, bring awareness to the things and behaviors that are negatively impacting your relationship. To reap the full benefits of the restoration process encourage your partner to list what they hate about you as well. Remember to keep an open mind and avoid shaming or blaming. This is an exercise to help you see things from each other’s perspective.

Question 3- What are the top three things you fight about?

Underneath every fight and argument lies an unmet need, or unfulfilled dream. When you look at your fights bearing this in mind, it will make them feel less personal. You’ll be less likely to feel attacked and more likely to have empathy for your partner who is using that fight as a relief from reality.

All couples have recurring fights that chip away at the health of their relationship. When these fights go on for too long resentment moves in and wreaks havoc. So determine at least three things you seem to fight about the most and begin looking for solutions. More often than not these recurring fights have roots in our past. Once you establish their causes you’ll be better equipped to handle them.

Question 4- Does your relationship resemble your parents’?

Pay close attention to how your relationship resembles your parents’. Our upbringing, and the relationships we grow up witnessing, have a tremendous impact on our adult relationships. We unconsciously search for partners that mirror our caregivers, and recreate their relationships.

If your partner possesses the traits you dislike in your parent, figure out why you dislike them. These traits are likely bothering you because they somehow threaten your values. In which case, you may be facing a problem with misaligned values within the relationship. Misaligned personal values are a big source of conflict in a relationship. To be able to reach a compromise that won’t threaten your identities you must practice tolerance. Treat your partner as an individual rather than an extension of yourself.

Question 5- What is the price of staying vs leaving?

You’ll want to establish the reasons you’re staying in your current relationship to figure out if they’re sustainable. If it’s convenience, finances, or the children that are keeping you in the relationship, it will eventually end. If love and common values are what motivate you to stay in the relationship, then you have a good chance of restoring the spark. And if it’s a combination of the two scenarios, there’s still hope. You simply have to put in the work to gain more insight into what’s keeping your relationship from being great again, and address those issues.

Sometimes the price of staying in a relationship is higher than leaving. Any sort of ongoing abuse is a good indicator that the relationship isn’t worth restoring. If you’ve attempted to repair an abusive relationship and have been unsuccessful, it’s time to let go. No amount of work will restore your relationship at this point. And the longer an abusive relationship drags on, the deeper the scars you’ll be left with. While it’s heartbreaking to let go of a relationship you’ve been nurturing for a long period of time, sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.

Here is a quiz to help you determine the health of your relationship.

You may also like: 3 Signs Of A Toxic Relationship: How To Fix It

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Revive Romance in a Relationship

How To Revive Romance In Your Relationship

Given the title, you’re likely expecting to read some juicy tips that will help revive romance in your relationship. But you won’t find them here because, the reality is, picture-perfect romance is just that, picture-perfect. It may be memorable, but it’s short-lived and doesn’t impact the overall well-being of a relationship. Instead, what I am hoping you’ll learn is that romance can be displayed in unconventional ways. And letting go of stereotypes will put you on the path to spotting the subtle signs of romance within your relationship.

I’d like to remind you that some people have a harder time expressing their emotions. So they may find romantic display cheesy and uneasy. Yet other people may genuinely enjoy being romantic. If you find yourself in a relationship with your opposite there are things you can do to ensure your romantic needs are met.

Respark the Romantic Relationship

1. Don’t force yourself to be romantic

Trying to force romance in a relationship will feel unnatural and lead to disappointment. So don’t go out of your way to be romantic if it’s not in your nature, you won’t be able to sustain it. And when that happens your partner will feel misled and long for the person you were. Instead, practice kindness, empathy and be an active listener, you can never go wrong with them. Possessing these qualities will make your partner feel a lot more loved and appreciated.

Another great way to show love for your partner is to replace idealized romance with activities you both enjoy. A candlelit dinner may provide instant gratification, but the next day you go back to the reality of your relationship. What you want is to create bonding memories that positively impact your relationship.

2. Don’t manipulate your partner into being romantic

You may try to manipulate your partner into becoming more romantic. So you sulk, complain, and call your partner out for being an insensitive human being. You may think that the best way to show love is through roses, presents and warm hugs. But your partner may be showing you love through acts of service, or emotional support. Learn to accept that there are different ways to show love, and that type of romantic display may not be your partner’s way.

Mismatched romantic expectations in a relationship are quite common. So communicate openly about them early on in the relationship. Understand how your partner shows love, and how they’d like to receive love. Then offer your point of view and, if necessary, reach a compromise that will leave you both satisfied.

3. Rethink your ideal relationship

Your mother, friend, or cousin may believe a happy relationship must be filled romance but it doesn’t mean it’s the way YOUR relationship should be. There are many ways to make your partner feel deeply loved that don’t involve being very romantic.

For some people deep love means fully trusting their partner. So they show their love through vulnerability and loyalty. Find the moments in which your partner shows these attributes, they are guaranteed to fill up your love tank. Idealized romance is an add-on a relationship can survive without.

4. Accept that all relationships change with time

Contrary to popular belief, changes within a relationship are not bad, they are natural. And all relationships go through inevitable stages of change. The first one is attraction and infatuation when you try very hard to impress each other. Then comes enlightenment when hormones calm down and your connection deepens. Next comes commitment and engagement, the stage in which you establish common values and goals for the future.

Along with the above changes the love you experience for one another also takes different shapes. In the beginning stages, love is passionate, obsessive and playful. Then, this type of love begins to morph into profound love (intense love without the obsessive element of new relationships). It’s important to be aware of this transition since we often expect the former to last forever. And when passionate love turns to profound love we wrongly assume that our relationships lack romance.

Rethink your ideal relationship and you’ll see romance from a different perspective. Remember, all relationships go through highs and lows. Being mindful of that will help you pull through the more difficult, or stale, times. And it will result in a more satisfying and peaceful relationship.

Here is a great quiz to find out your style of romantic attachment.

You may also like: 3 Signs Of A Toxic Relationship: How To Fix It

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Soothe a Broken Heart

How To Soothe A Broken Heart

The gut-wrenching feeling of a broken heart. We all feel it at some point in our lives, and we all desperately search for ways to overcome it. While there is no quick fix for a broken heart, there is a way to soothe it until the pain goes away.

Some common mistakes people make when they try to heal their broken hearts are: rushing into new relationships, drowning away the pain with harmful substances, or engaging in risky behaviors. But the key to mending a broken heart is to do the inner work first, which will lead you to make wiser decisions in the future.

Whether your broken heart is the product of a failed marriage, relationship, or friendship, the following three tips will prove efficient in soothing it.

fix a broken heart

1. Rediscover yourself

The best way to deal with heartbreak is to focus on the self. We often spend so much time tending to other people, striving to please them, that we lose ourselves in the process. Yet, we can’t offer much when our emotional buckets are empty and when we forget ourselves.

For instance, being in long term relationships shrinks our sense of self. As a result, our partners become part of our identities, which is why we struggle to find ourselves once a relationship ends. So you want to focus your energy on rediscovering yourself and your worth as an individual. Reconnect with old hobbies, do the things that interest you, or get in touch with friends you may have neglected.

There is nothing more rewarding than the feeling of growth. So why not embark on a journey of personal growth and become the best version of yourself? It will positively impact every other area of your life, and lead you to new beginnings.

2. Banish resentment

It’s so easy to get caught up in regret and wishful thinking. We often resent the people who have hurt us, or wish that things had developed differently. We wonder what we did wrong, what they did wrong, and why this is happening to us. And we dwell on what could’ve been, but wasn’t until it turns into a toxic cycle of resentment and self-pity.

Resentment hinders your ability to heal from heartbreak. It keeps you stuck in the past and unable to see the future. So learn to forgive and accept that broken hearts are part of life, they can’t always be avoided. Mourn the loss that broke your heart, but remind yourself that you will find happiness again.

3. Accept what is

Your broken heart will only get better if you allow it to. And the way you allow a broken heart to heal is to accept what is. Accept the outcome, the suffering, the mistakes and missed opportunities. Cherish the good memories you’re left with, and let go of the ones that cause you pain.

Sometimes, broken hearts are the greatest gifts because they force us to take steps we otherwise wouldn’t dare take. Perhaps now it’s your chance to evolve. So get excited about the upcoming experiences and possibilities. This could be the beginning of the greatest time of your life.

Stay open to trusting again, do your best to avoid past mistakes and you’ll get better than what you had. So when you meet new people, do give them a chance to prove trustworthy. Don’t make assumptions about them based on your past experiences. Instead, use those experiences to stay level-headed whenever you have to make a decision.

You’re only given one life. Are you willing to sacrifice fully living it for one person? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ll never recover from losing your “true love”, “soulmate”, or “best friend”, because you will. The pain may linger on, you may get some flashbacks, but eventually it will become a memory. One of the many memories we collect along the way in our complex, intriguing lives.

Bonus: 10 Activities To Soothe Your Broken Heart

1. Write your pain away in a journal.
2. Take a walk.
3. Talk to a person who makes you feel good.
4. Help a stranger.
5. Tell yourself out loud how much potential you have.
6. List 5 things you disliked about the person who broke your heart.
7. Write a note to your future happy self.
8. List three things you love about yourself.
9. Do something you’re afraid of.
10. Ask yourself: Do I want to allow the person who broke my heart to determine my future?

Here is a helpful quiz to evaluate your emotional well-being.

You may also like: 5 Mistakes To Avoid In A New Relationship

Mistakes to Avoid in A New Relationship

5 Mistakes To Avoid In A New Relationship

There’s no denying that starting a new relationship fills us with excitement and hope. We hope this is it. This is the relationship that may last forever. And we try so hard to convince ourselves that we’ve made a good choice this time around. But the thrill of a new relationship leaves us blind to potential dealbreaker signs.

To avoid wasting your precious time, and increase your chances of making a relationship last, don’t make these five mistakes.

New Romantic Relationship

Mistake 1- Allow the euphoric feelings of a new relationship to cloud your judgement.

The excitement of a new relationship can prevent you from seeing possible red flags of trouble down the road. You may have fallen hard for your partner’s looks, and may not care much about everything else for now. But reality sets in sooner than you may think. And when you begin to notice differences between you and your partner, you may already be in too deep.

Look beyond appearance. Instead, observe your partner’s behavior, body language, strengths and weaknesses. Detect the habits that bother you, and determine if they are deal breakers for you.

Mistake 2- Not discussing core values and long term goals.

Failing to discuss your goals and values when a relationship begins, can lead to partners heading in different directions.

Our core values are what guide us in life. When they don’t align with our significant other’s, they can be a source of conflict. It’s very hard to make a relationship work in which partners have misaligned values.

For example, you may want to go to your place of worship every week but your partner may not. So if religion is a big part of your life, you want to ensure your partner shares the same ideology. Or, if you plan on having kids next year but your partner wants to wait five years, this can end your relationship.

Make sure you’re on the same page with your partner, it will save your relationship and your sanity.

Mistake 3- Not talking about finances.

There’s such a stigma around talking about money in a new relationship, but it’s an essential conversation to have. It helps you avoid surprises and disappointments later on. Talking about money tends to make people uneasy. But partners should be aware of each other’s debts and assets before taking a relationship to a serious level.

Nobody wants to bear the burden of another person’s debt they weren’t aware of. At the same time, nobody wants to be misled into believing they are in a relationship with a self-sufficient person and end up having to support them.

There is nothing wrong with being the sole provider in a relationship, nor taking on your partner’s debt. However, you want to know about it and understand the implications.

Mistake 4- Not knowing your contribution to the demise of your previous relationship.

When a relationship ends we are often filled with negative feelings toward our ex-partners. We often blame them for the unfortunate outcome. But moving onto a new relationship without knowing how we contributed to the demise of a previous one is like trying the same diet that never worked for you once again. The truth is, unless we know the damaging patterns that we bring into a relationship, we will never be able to make one last too long.

So take a moment and revisit previous relationships. Do you see a repeating pattern that led to their end? Were there similarities between previous relationships? The answers to your contribution may lie in the recurring problems of previous failed relationships. Take note of them, and address them. Don’t rewrite history.

Mistake 5- Having unrealistic expectations.

It’s very common to enter a relationship expecting your partner to fit this mold you’ve created for them. And when they don’t, you may sulk and try to manipulate them into behaving according to your expectations. It may work for a short period of time, but it’s not sustainable. Eventually, the other person shows who they truly are. That’s when they are no longer willing to compromise their identity.

Allow one to be oneself and you’ll find out much quicker whether you like them or not. Don’t paint your partner’s picture in the colors you’d like to see, let them show you their actual colors. You’ll be happy you did.

As you enter a new relationship, keep your head on your shoulders. You can daydream about your future with your partner, but don’t allow these dreams to guide your everyday decisions. Love deeply, but not blindly. Good luck!

Here is a quiz to find out how well you know your partner.

You may also like: 9 Practical Tips For A Healthy Relationship

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Bond with Your Child

How To Build A Strong Bond With Your Child

Building a strong bond with your child is crucial for a satisfying parent-child relationship. In addition, children’s mental development benefits greatly from a strong bond between parents and children. Studies show that children who have a good bond with their parents are more likely to become happy, independent, and resilient adults.

Ideally, the process of building a strong bond with your child begins at birth. However, that’s not always possible. Factors like birth complications, postpartum depression, or lack of social support can stand in the way. But it’s never too late to build a healthy parent-child relationship.

If you are a future parent, be prepared for the challenges of parenthood for an easier transition. Don’t romanticize the idea of having a child. Despite the amazing things that come with becoming a parent, there are also difficulties. As we all know, cute little babies grow up fast, and we must keep pace with our patience.

building a strong bond with your child

The following five tips are based on positive parenting, the attachment theory,  and personal experience.

1. Discipline with love

All parents struggle to find the right way to effectively discipline their children. However, avoid harsh discipline as it’s very damaging to the parent-child bond. Think how intimidating it must be to have a person many times your size hover over you, demanding your obedience. Often times, we forget how vulnerable children feel when we attempt to discipline them. We may also forget to remind our children of our unconditional love. Children need to know they are not bad when they behave badly. They are simply learning to manage their emotions, and to make wiser decisions.

Tip: When attempting to discipline your children, separate them from their behaviors. Assure them of your love while letting them know that you don’t condone their behaviors, or actions.

Practice: For toddlers- distract them, or remove them from the trigger situation as you physically comfort them. Remind yourself that tantrums don’t last forever. Don’t worry about people looking at you if you’re in a public place. Your toddler’s well-being is more important than the approval of a stranger.

For older kids- when your children misbehave, make eye contact with them as you attempt to discipline them. Give two warnings, then count to three, and if they don’t stop, express your love for them and remove a privilege.

2. Treat them with respect

Have you ever caught yourself yelling at your children telling them to stop yelling? How about trying to get them to do as you say by being sarcastic, or humiliating them? As any parent will tell you, parenting the right way is not easy. Nor do we ever do it perfectly. We have so much going on in our lives, and so little time to do it all well. We are stretched thin, and, as a result, our patience is limited. So we may say, or do things we later regret. But we can’t demand respect from our children through disrespect, it never works.

Tip: Becoming a more mindful parent helps put things into perspective. It allows us to see our children as the immature human beings they are. Remember, they are not trying to upset us on purpose. They just need our help to guide them through our overwhelming adult centered world.

Practice: Speak to your child as you’d speak to an adult you respect. Give them instructions instead of orders, and offer explanations instead of “because I said so”.

3. Have one-on-one time

Giving a child your undivided attention is essential for the development of a strong bond. Children need to be heard and seen by their caregivers without distractions. They want to know we value them, and they are a priority in our lives.

Tip: You don’t need to go out of your way to spend quality time with your child. For instance, adding a few extra minutes to the bedtime routine can be enough to fill your child’s daily love tank.

Practice: Incorporate “special time” in your child’s daily routine. Special time means you spend an uninterrupted amount of time connecting with your child through play. Allow them to choose special time activities.

4. Actively listen to them

Active listening means paying attention to your child’s behavior and body language as they speak. When we half-hear our children we miss subtle cues that offer valuable insight into their emotional well-being. Also, when we actively listen to our children, we make them feel cherished, loved, and secure. As a result, they will share more of their thoughts and worries with us, which allows us to address a situation before it turns into a tantrum, or bad behavior.

Tip: Pay close attention to the way you currently listen to your children when they speak. If you find yourself giving mindless answers that frustrate them, or make them repeat themselves, it’s time to start practicing active listening.

Practice: Next time your child attempts to speak to you, reply promptly even if you can’t start a conversation right away. Let them know you acknowledge them, and you will listen to them. This also prevents a meltdown, which is a child’s attempt to grab the caregiver’s attention.

5. Lead with empathy

Finally, attempt to see things from your child’s perspective. Be empathetic towards the big emotions little humans feel while lacking the ability to control them. When children feel accepted and understood they thrive.

Tip: Don’t act like your children’s boss, instead walk alongside them. Validate their feelings, and tell them how you were once in their shoes. Being able to relate to someone in a difficult situation provides comfort and relief.

Practice: Resist the urge to tell your children to do things, or express their feelings the way you do. Instead, allow them the opportunity to show you their way, then offer your opinion and support.

You can now start paving the way to a fulfilling relationship with your (future adult) child. There is nothing more rewarding than a lifelong parent-child bond.

How do you to create a strong bond with your child? Share your tips in the comments section.

Read next: Mindful Parenting: Stay Present, Think Ahead

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Practical Tips for A Healthy Relationship

9 Practical Tips For A Healthy Relationship

A healthy relationship is like medicine for your soul. It is a source of comfort, security and joy. We all know how important good relationships are, both for our hearts and minds. But not everyone is willing to expend the conscious effort required to preserve them.

Every relationship goes through highs and lows, but the balancing scale should tilt toward the highs. And if it doesn’t, it’s time for an overhaul. Don’t settle for an OK relationship. Aim for a better, healthier relationship.

While there are endless ways to enhance your relationship, I tried to stay practical with my advice. I combined research with my personal experience to give you nine tips you can actually use.

healthier relationship

For a healthy relationship…

1. Set common goals

Setting common goals in a relationship is a great way to bond and enhance communication. Plus, when you set a common goal, you are more likely to achieve it. But ensure that your goals are in alignment with your values. Create a plan and agree to work on it equally to make your goal happen. And don’t forget to celebrate the milestones along the way.

2. Stay interested in your partner

Strive to make your significant other feel valued and understood. Show interest in their feelings, passions, wishes, or ongoing projects. We all want to be heard and seen, especially by our loved ones. Staying interested in your partner is an essential aspect of a healthy relationship.

3. Be generous with affection

Make showing affection part of your daily routines. There are so many ways you can show affection in a relationship that don’t require over the top actions. It could be a gentle touch, a soft kiss, a hug, a kind smile, a loving look etc. This tip offers instant benefits. Try it, and you’ll know what I mean.

4. Have realistic expectations

When two strangers come together to form a couple, there’s bound to be differences. And as a relationship progresses, they turn into “nagging differences”. You know, the ones we nag each other about on a frequent basis. Areas like cleanliness, organization, housework, and errands are just a few. Whatever it is you expect from your partner, make sure it’s realistic and it truly matters. Unrealistic expectations are a source of conflict.

5. Learn to listen more

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get your point across to a person who won’t hear you out. And we are all guilty of it sometimes. When your partner speaks to you, make eye contact, lean in, and nod to let them know you are listening. Look for cues that tell you when to interject without talking over them.

6. Schedule lots of mini dates

As relationships progress, it’s important to continue dating each other. Yet, life gets so busy that we forget to make it a priority. While having a date night sounds very romantic, for a lot of us it doesn’t happen often enough. Instead, you can schedule daily mini dates. A mini date can take place anywhere, and anytime the two of you are alone. You can snuggle on the couch, flirt up a storm, have dessert after dark, take a walk etc. Get creative!

7. Don’t assume or judge

Aren’t we all quick to make assumptions? When we assume things about people, or what they say, we create an image of them that isn’t always accurate. This is where good listening skills come in handy. The right way to listen is to process information free of judgement. Be an example of empathy your partner will want to follow. It will come with extraordinary benefits.

8. Never use the silent treatment

The silent treatment is one of the most damaging conflict resolution techniques you can use in a relationship. But that doesn’t mean you have to participate in heated fights without retracting. Sometimes, stepping away from an argument when upset leads to a better outcome. However, if you withdraw, sulk, and ignore your partner for days, that is the silent treatment. Avoid it at all cost.

9. Don’t focus on defeating your partner

Oftentimes, we turn average fights into a competition of olympic proportions. We place so much emphasis on who is right, who is wrong, and who should win, that we forget what we’re even trying to achieve. Rather than focusing on coming out the winner at the end of a disagreement, focus on its importance. Is it worth fighting for? And what difference does it even make whether you win or lose? None. At the end of the day, you both want the best for each other, you just see things differently. Embrace your differences, and learn to let go of the little stuff. Agree to disagree more often.

Relationships are complex, but they don’t have to be hard. If you actively invest in the health of your relationship, it will become your greatest source of joy.

How passionate is your relationship? Take this fun quiz to find out.

Do you have any tips for a healthy relationship? Please share them below.

You might also like: How To Have A Better Relationship

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How to Have a Better Relationship

How To Have A Better Relationship

There comes a time when we all wish to have a better, happier relationship with our partners. But do we know how we came to the need to mend our relationships? 

I am certain you remember the day you met this person who ticked all the boxes on your “the one” list. As well as the warm, fuzzy feelings of the first loving embrace. What about those euphoric thoughts on the amazing connection you have? This is the sensational feeling of a fresh new love looming over you that leads you to believe things will always be this way. In fact, you say to yourself: THIS IS TRUE LOVE. It is never ending, and we will live happily ever after.

Meanwhile, life happens, and your once perfect relationship is now in need of an overhaul.

So what actually happened? How do you go from blissful love to anguish? 

Relationships need maintenance. We tend to believe that a good relationship should just come naturally. And if we find “the right person” the relationship will grow stronger, and evolve on its own. But it isn’t so. A good relationship is learned and nurtured. It is created by two equally interested and involved partners. 

For greater relationship satisfaction, strive to make the other person feel valued and understood.

Here are a few things you can do to enhance your relationship.

Determine your method of comfort

healthy relationship

And encourage your partner to do the same. According to Milan and Kay Yerkovich in the book How We Love, how one experiences comfort and relief as a child is an important aspect of healthy adult relationships. 

The three vital ingredients of comfort are:

  • Touch: if you received physical comfort as a child, a soothing touch from your partner could be enough to make you feel loved in a moment of distress.
  • Listening: if you were raised by parents who were good listeners, and who comforted you with their words, chances are you feel your best when your partner validates your feelings.
  • Relief: if your parent was able to successfully comfort you, it brought relief which gave you the ability to better understand yourself and form a secure attachment.

Learning how you were comforted as a child will reveal a lot about the way you communicate and behave in your relationship. Moreover, it will help you identify with one, or more, of the following five love styles.

Establish your love style

love style

Did you know that how we were comforted as children can determine our love styles as adults? 

Relationship experts Milan and Kay Yerkovich have identified five love styles:

1. The Avoider

People who relate to the avoider love style often have a hard time recognizing, sharing and dealing with their feelings. The avoiders don’t like to feel vulnerable, and find it difficult to comfort an emotionally upset partner. They fear being perceived as weak, so avoiders can seem cold and distant. Also, they tend to blame their partner for their problems to avoid taking responsibility for their mistakes.

Tip for the avoider: Practice vulnerability. And avoid blaming your partner for your problems. Blame-shifting leads to recurrent fights with no resolution.

Tip for the avoider’s partner:  Know that the avoiders find comfort in detaching themselves from their feelings. So help your partner open up by being understanding and considerate towards them.

2. The Pleaser

The pleasers do their best to please others in order to protect themselves emotionally. These are the people who go to great lengths to avoid conflict, and to keep those around them happy. And they do so because their happiness, or distress, depends on others’. 

Tip for the pleaser: Acknowledge your anxiety and codependent tendencies. In addition, keep in mind, your worthiness doesn’t depend on anyone’s approval. Finally, get out of your comfort zone to find yourself.

Tip for the pleaser’s partner: Encourage pleasers to become more independent and to face their fears. Remember that pleasers seek approval, so try not to criticise them. Instead, offer your unconditional support.

3. The Vacillator

Vacillators are defined as emotionally volatile people. One minute they love you, the next they dislike you. They are prone to having high expectations of a relationship. And when their (often unrealistic) expectations aren’t met they feel resentful and hurt.  

Tip for the vacillator: Try not to make assumptions about other people’s behavior, thoughts and feelings. Attempting to predict another person’s intentions is just a guessing game. 

Tip for the vacillator’s partner: Kindly get your point across using “I” statements when dealing with an upset vacillator. Set limits for the vacillator, and make respect and unbreakable rule in the relationship.

4. The Controller 

The controller love style stems from unresolved trauma, often from childhood. Controllers are individuals who grew up in chaotic environments, lacking positive parent-child interactions. They likely received little to no admiration from their parents as children. As adults, they look to compensate for their low self-esteem by exerting control over their partners.

Tip for the controller: Allow yourself to feel the pain of your trauma, and admit it. Work on uncovering and undoing the patterns of your behavior. Once you let go of excessive control you’ll be a much better partner, and a happier person.

Tip for the controller’s partner: Understand the history of the controllers’ life, and separate the person from the behavior. If possible, encourage them to seek professional help.

5. The Victim

Like the controller, the victim love style stems from an unstable childhood filled with conflict. However, the victim love style relates closer to the pleaser. Both pleasers and victims steer clear of conflict, and have a hard time standing up for themselves. But victims will go to greater lengths to stay within their comfort zones. 

Tip for the victim: Bring your unresolved trauma to light and address it. Understand that healing is possible, and become aware of how worthy you are.

Tip for the victim’s partner: Don’t take advantage of the victims’ weakness. Be kind, considerate and supportive toward your partner.

Here is The Love Style Quiz that will help you find out your love style.

Sort out financial differences

good relationship

Interestingly, we tend to select partners that are our spending opposites. A study from the University of Michigan actually confirmed our tendencies. But partnering up with our “money opposite” leads to more fights over money, and lower marital satisfaction. 

Therefore, have an honest conversation with your partner about how money is spent in your relationship. Try to come to an agreement on how to spend money that aligns with your common goals. However, do allow your partner to feed occasional indulgences.  

Encourage personal growth

Several studies have shown that supportive relationships influence personal growth. And personal growth is a key component of a healthy relationship. Given the link between the two, we should encourage our partners to better themselves. 

The best way to promote personal growth in a relationship is to endorse your partner’s goals. Explore those goals side by side, and show interest in each other’s ideas. 

Learn to let go

couples relationship

Letting go is not an easy thing to do, but if you stay focused on the benefits of mastery, you will succeed at it.

We all enter relationships with emotional baggage, and we often project our past experiences on our present partners. Or if you’re currently in a long term relationship, you might be holding grudges from previous fights. 

It is important to see your relationship as a blank slate, and resist the temptation to bring up the past. People change and evolve over time. Who wants to be reminded of a mistake they made 10 years ago?

Once you learn to let go of previous patterns, you’ll be better equipped to overlook the nagging little stuff that arise in every relationship. As a result, you’ll enjoy a happier, more rewarding relationship.

How did you make your relationship better? Please tell us in the comment section.

You might also like: 3 Signs Of A Toxic Relationship: How To Fix It

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Help with a toxic relationship

3 Signs Of A Toxic Relationship: How To Fix It

Being in a toxic relationship can be emotionally suffocating. Even a mildly toxic relationship can lead to anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. However, often times, people are unaware they are in one.

This type of relationship usually evolves over time. It begins with what seems like normal bickering, or “constructive” criticism but, if left unaddressed, it can lead to verbal, emotional, and even physical abuse.

woman looking down sad

Here are three of the most telling signs of a toxic relationship, and what to do about them:

1. Excessive criticism

Does your partner constantly point out your flaws and failures? Does he/she tell you on a daily basis how you could have done things better?

If you answered “Yes” this is perhaps the clearest indication of a toxic relationship. Firstly, let me remind you that no one can ever be perfect in the eyes of another person. What someone may perceive as wrong could be right to you, and vice versa. Secondly, having someone you care about regularly emphasize your weaknesses is a huge blow to your confidence.

A person who feels the need to criticise excessively is someone with deep rooted insecurities who is projecting them onto you.

Do: Use “I” statements to voice your displeasure with your partner’s criticism. Let him/her know how it makes you feel and come up with a plan to communicate frustrations in a healthier way. 

Don’t: Allow your partner’s negative words to dictate who you are. Measure your self-worth based on your interactions with your partner.

2. Controlling behavior

A controlling partner wants to know where you are, what you do, who you are with, and what you say to other people at all times. He/She can also try to distance you from friends and family in order to feel more in control of you. If you recognize this behavior in your partner, or yourself, it is imperative to address it immediately. 

Having someone exert control over you on a regular basis leaves you emotionally drained. It also leaves you feeling irritable, angry and anxious. In addition, having to constantly answer questions about your daily activities to a likely paranoid person can take a toll on your mental health over time. 

Do: Respectfully tell your partner that you do not condone controlling behavior. Point it out when it happens in a calm voice. Try to help your partner figure out where his need for control stems from.

Don’t: Allow your partner to carry on this behavior, nor interfere in your relationships with friends and family. 

3. Walking on eggshells 

In a toxic relationship you often find yourself feeling like you are walking on eggshells so you don’t trigger or disappoint your partner. Having to constantly think and plan what to say, and how to say things to your partner in order to prevent an outburst can cause extreme stress. This type of interaction with another person on a daily basis leads to feelings of despair, mental health issues, and even physical illness. Do not take this warning sign lightly.

Do: Be who you actually are. Acknowledge that pleasing your partner at all times is not sustainable and should not be expected. Tell your partner that healthy relationships allow room for error. 

Don’t: Try to please your partner at all times hoping to prevent an outburst. You’ll create a never ending cycle of disappointment for both, and lose yourself in the process.

In some cases, a toxic relationships can be mended as long as both parties are made aware of its nature. However, you both have to be willing to put in the work required over a period of time. Sometimes, the help of a counselor is needed. In other cases, a toxic relationship can reach a point of no return, and it is best to let go of it. 

No matter how you decide to address your toxic relationship, please remember that you deserve respect, peace and happiness just as much as everyone else.

Have you ever experienced or witnessed a toxic relationship? Please comment below.

Read next: Become A More Mindful Person: 5 Easy Steps

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