To love and to be loved is one of the greatest things we will ever learn. But how do we actually create and nurture healthy, respectful and loving relationships? I've narrowed it down to 4 of THE most important foundations that create and nurture a healthy relationship.
The whopper, which comes up time and time again is 'acceptance'. Most relationship problems stem from our loved ones wanting us to 'be' or 'act' differently. That we are flawed or not good enough in some way. This creates a feeling of rejection & inadequacy and there is always a price to pay. Sometimes that price is trust, intimacy, closeness and always almost resentment.
We need our loved ones to accept us for who we are, flaws and all, every single flawsome bit of us.
Boundaries are all about respect for each other and they are what sets the space between where you end and your love one begins. In relationships, boundaries help to take each other's feelings into account, show gratitude and respect differences in opinion, perspective and feelings. Boundaries in romantic, loving relationships are critical, because unlike other relationships, we share each other's most intimate physical, emotional and sexual spaces.
Ultimately, healthy, loving, nurturing and respectful relationships require clear-cut parameters.
Boundaries that often fail, are those which use language which includes 'you can never' or 'you must always' - absolute boundaries like these are unrealistic and will ultimately fail, and when they do fail, the end result is a loss of respect.
Be clear with your loved one about your boundaries, what the rules, goals, and expectations are.
Listening, and I mean really listening, is the single most way women feel loved - we need to be listened to and we need to be heard. One of the most sincere forms of respect is your loved one actually listening to what you have to say. If you find yourself saying things like:
"You're not listening to me!".
"Why don't you let me finish what I'm saying?"
"I may as well be talking to a brick wall!
"You just don't understand"
"That's not what I said!"
You will certainly not be feeling like you are being really listened to and heard. Listening is the art of connecting with your loved on, so you fully understand what they are saying and feeling. It is such a vital and necessary skill needed in creating and maintaining a happy and strong relationship, in parenting children effectively, and in working together and making effective decisions, yet it is so often neglected in so many relationships.
When your loved one listens to you and you feel understood, you are much more likely to trust and therefore much more likely to want to be intimate.
The healthiest and strongest relationships are those where you feel like you are a team - you can take on the world together, you always have each others back and you encourage each other to be the best version you can possibly be of yourselves. A supportive loved one will challenge you, stand beside you when you need them, will always be there in the background in case you fall, and will give you the space you need to grow as a person. They will never judge you or put constraints on you or your dreams.
Good relationships don't just happen. They take time, patience, respect and two people who truly want to be together. They are founded on love - total, complete, unconditional love. Feeling accepted, respecting each other's boundaries, listening and supporting each other are the firm foundations which will nurture and grow that love into the best kind of love you will ever experience. Invest in your relationship - don't leave it to chance.
Catherine Asta Labbett
Psychotherapist I BA (Hons) I PGCert I MNCP