Ingredients of a healthy relationship

Roots, Space and Nurturing

Marriages may or may not be made in heaven, but they are certainly lived and nurtured on planet earth.

Choosing a life partner is such an important milestone in anyone’s life. People spend years to find Mr. Right/Ms. Right and once they meet that special someone who makes their heart flutter, no stone is left unturned in making the big day unforgettable, be it choosing the venue, coordinated outfits and decoration, guest lists, menu and everything small and big.

Meanwhile, when we’re investing so much for that single day, do we ever stop by to think that perhaps we should be preparing for what lies ahead too? Getting together is just a beginning, first step of a life-long journey together which requires some thought and work too.

Before saying I Do

Before you say I do, introspect a little and ask yourself if you’re emotionally, physically, mentally and financially ready for the relationship. Ask yourself another important question what does marriage mean to you? It’s true that good relationships help us draw strength and comfort from each other and enrich our life by making it more meaningful. However, starting a relationship with the intention of thriving is different from seeing it as a tool to survive loneliness.  Ask yourself about what you are going to contribute to this relationship and what’s the emotional baggage with which you’re stepping in and how are you going to deal with it. Most importantly, reflect on your definition of a happy marriage and how are you going to make that happen during various phases of your life.

Relationships are dynamic just like people

People change, grow, evolve and transform over time, so do relationships. Once the thrill of honeymoon phase wears off you find yourself living with a real-life human and not a fairy tale character, one who is as flawed as you are. Be it the things you found cute earlier which now annoy you or the things you though they would do forever or would learn to do, but they don’t anymore. This shift in perspective brings a huge change; cute stuff begins to look annoying. Remember how you found it funny when he couldn’t fetch himself a cup of coffee and you readily did so for him, however, now you swear under your breath every time you have to do that when you both get back home together from work. Or how it always amused you when she would have the last word in every conversation and would get her way, and now it gets on your nerves and makes you throw a fit.

At the beginning of a relationship, if you believed that nothing is ever going to change, you are in for a big disappointment.  So allow for the change to take its course for if we resist change and remain fixated on the past or rigid expectations, we suffocate what’s meant to be nurtured.  Remember that anything that doesn’t change stops growing. Now isn’t that enough clue to embrace the changes and transitions a marriage goes through?

Roots and space

In his beautiful poetic style, Khalil Gibran once said, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness” when speaking of marriage. And isn’t that some wonderful insight? The intricate balance of togetherness and space needs to be maintained in a relationship for it to breathe. And when you hit that sweet spot, magic happens where two people remain individuals and yet merge their lives to function as a single unit.

We need to provide our relationship the roots to stay connected and space to grow. And when you plant the sapling of a relationship, be prepared for the storms, floods and droughts.  To do this it’s crucial to understand that just like seasons, a marriage also goes through various phases and to make it work we need to look at it holistically and never stop working on it. If we keep our minds open to our constantly changing and evolving relationship, we may very well learn to ride on the wave of change to steer our togetherness towards a beautiful destination rather than mistaking a storm for a catastrophe.

Nurturing a marriage the right way can do wonders

I am not sure if anything like Mr./Ms. Right and perfect  compatibility exist or not. What I know, however,  is that no matter how similar/different you both are, where does each of you come from, or whether yours is a love marriage or arranged marriage, you can always work to build a healthy and harmonious relationship if you’re committed to do so. Let’s see few factors that help in building a strong and lasting relationship.

Communication According to relationship expert Amy Bellows, “Communication is the mortar that holds a relationship together—if it breaks down, the relationship will crumble. When spouses no longer communicate, a marriage nurtures no one. It is no longer a marriage.”

And we can’t agree more. Open communication in a marriage where one can freely express themselves and talk about their deepest fears, desires and everything close to their heart without the fear of judgement or criticism is one of the most important pillars of a strong marriage. It’s this courage to be vulnerable that bring people close. However, it can be done only when both the partners hold that space for each other where they can be themselves. Even when there’s a conflict, remember that it’s an opportunity to effectively communicate with each other to resolve it and strengthen the marital bond.

Empathy The more intimately we know someone, the more clearly we can see their flaws. From up close rough edges and cracks become visible on what once appeared to be a smooth and glistening surface. And when this happens it’s crucial to exercise your skill of empathy, which is the cornerstone of all healthy relationships. Knowing that you both are equally fallible humans prone to making mistakes paves the way for greater understanding and practicing forgiveness. Accepting the humanness of yours as well as your partner’s  is a great step to nurture a bond which can only be done when you are ready to move out the walls of your own prejudices and expectations and see things as your partner sees them  and understand their perspectives too.

Respect and trust Respecting each other’s individuality and differences without putting them down goes a long way in addressing the conflicts that may arise from time to time in a relationship. And trust is something that helps partners braving the storms and staying by each other’s side no matter how difficult things seem to be. Trust isn’t something that can be instantly conjured in a relationship, rather something that’s built over a period of time with our actions, attitudes and dedication.

Commitment Love is an emotion which may fluctuate and actually does over time. So when you love someone, start looking for those intrinsic qualities in them and compatibility factors  which will help you stay committed when you might feel like you’ve fallen ‘out of love’.  Remember that love is a deliberate choice you make every day to work through conflicts and stay committed resisting the urge to jump ship.

Sense of humour A little sense of humour goes a long way in lightening up tough situations and keeping the vibrancy alive in a relationship. So keep it alive.

Lastly, but most importantly, when mundane auto mode of daily routine threatens to take over life, don’t forget the importance of little things. It’s the little things we do together and for each other that keep us from taking each other for granted and can make huge difference to how our relationships unfold and blossom.

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About the author

Asma Ansari is a professional writer with versatile experience in content writing, creative writing, story development and technical writing. Her articles have been published in the leading dailies of the country.