The second most frequent answer in my quest to find happiness is the relationships we keep (55 people out of 218). I personally think it’s important to note that every person is fallible. No single person in the world will always be able to perfectly make anyone else happy, so placing all hopes and dreams in someone is a good way to get hurt. Life is messy, people will fail, they won’t always be happy or be able to make others happy. Everyone needs to find peace without relying on others.
With all that said, the people we choose to have in our lives have a huge effect on us. They can build us up or tear us down with just a look. Taking care of the relationships that mean the most to us is crucial, so is getting rid of the toxic ones.
I’ve done research over the years about relationships, how to build them, boundaries, toxic people, and how to protect ourselves. I am going to be honest because there’s no trust without the possibility of pain. My husband and I got married almost 12 years ago. Those first couple years of marriage were pretty miserable. I take a lot of that blame myself because I had depression that wasn’t getting taken care of correctly, but when it comes down to it, all relationships take two people that are selfless. My marriage didn’t start repairing itself until we made the decision it was worth the work and that meant his needs came before mine, all the time. And for him my needs came before his. No one is able to love selfishly. Selfishness is the Lex Luthor to love’s Superman.
There were several things that helped hubby and I find our way back to each other. Non violent communication (NVC). NVC is a compassionate process of communication. It helps stop arguments before they start and is direct instead of passive, aggressive, or passive aggressive. It gives everyone a chance to share their thoughts and feelings in a safe way. There are four parts to this kind of communication: observations, feelings, needs, and requests. Here is an example Marshall Rosenberg gives in his book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition, “A mother might express these three pieces to her teenage son by saying, ‘Felix, when I see two balls of soiled socks under the coffee table and another three next to the TV, I feel irritated because I am needing more order in the rooms that we share in common.’ She would follow immediately with the fourth component-a very specific request: “Would you be willing to put your socks in your room or in the washing machine?’” This type of communication is great for all relationships, not just marriage.
I also swear by “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. It helped me learn about myself and the people around me. The languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. I’ve read and reread it several times. There is a quiz in the book that can help determine your love language. I retake this sometimes and each time it has changed. As I grow older and change, my needs for love change. I loved presents as a child. Ok, I still love presents, but when I was younger it was a physical reminder that someone loved me and had been thinking about me. My mind didn’t fully comprehend what I couldn’t see. Now, as an adult, that lives a world away from most of my family, quality time has become super important. When I’m with people I love, I want them with me. Ever since I was raped, physical touch has been difficult for me and I don’t enjoy it. My littlest one (LO) is the touchiest person I’ve ever known. One of my close friends, Grace, had just had a baby and we visited them. The LO had been sitting on the couch next to Grace when she needed to breastfeed. The LO curled herself into Grace and rubbed her back as she fed the baby. I was so embarrassed that the LO crowded their space during such a private moment. But Grace said, “I know that’s how she shows love, I don’t mind.” I was blown away by her compassion and understanding, even though that wasn’t Grace’s primary love language. It is important to not only know your own love language, but to know how others around you show love. The hubby and I spoke different love languages. He is acts of service, I didn’t understand that every time he did the laundry for me he was telling me he loved me.
It’s important to love people for no other reason than that. Don’t expect them to change, don’t expect anything in return, compromise is key, and following through builds trust.
Having boundaries in all relationships is important. Your voice should be heard, your feelings should be considered. If someone is crossing boundaries, it needs to be addressed. One of the hardest decisions in life is letting go of a relationship that crosses boundaries and is toxic. Although its painful, it’s ok to cut ties with people that take advantage. I have a friend whose mother is abusive and places blame on her all the time. Her self esteem and ability to cultivate healthy relationships, especially with her children, was hindered. After painful deliberation she decided she needed to cut her mother out for the sake of her family. That is not always the best option, but if it is, it’s ok.
Abuse is something else that no one needs to stand for. I had been in an abusive relationship for months and I felt I deserved the pain he gave me. After getting much needed space, I realized how untrue that was. I knew it was true for others, but thought I had been so bad that it didn’t apply to me. That’s not true. No one, no matter what was done, deserves to be abused by another person. It is our right to be taken care of properly. Please never think there isn’t an option. There are always options and people to help. Physical abuse is not the only abuse. Mental and emotional abuse are unacceptable. Controlling money or relationships is unacceptable. Threats, even empty threats, are unacceptable. Abuse is not the norm and you are loved and amazing and deserve the right to a happy, healthy relationship. If you’re being abused or you suspect abuse, contact your nearest shelter, abuse center, or even police. Go here for more information.
Relationships are difficult to maintain, but they’re worth the work. It’s important to have people lift you up and to lift others up. Surround yourself with positive people that love you and love them back. Remember you have the right to be happy and healthy.
Derhally, Lena Aburdene. “6 Ways to Cultivate Better Relationships for More Happiness.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 May 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lena-aburdene-derhally/want-more-happiness-cultivate-better-relationships_b_7338628.html.
“Domestic Abuse.” Domestic Abuse | Victim Support, http://www.victimsupport.org.uk/crime-info/types-crime/domestic-abuse.
Moody, LaCroix Design Co., and Gary Chapman. “Discover Your Love Language.” The 5 Love Languages®, http://www.5lovelanguages.com/.
Rosenberg, Marshall. “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition.” Google Books, books.google.de/books?hl=en&lr=&id=A3qACgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT22&dq=cultivating%2Bhealthy%2Brelationships&ots=ch0dVilMnZ&sig=GJto3WvcbSp1I1DuEO-qsqqRNcM#v=onepage&q=cultivating%20healthy%20relationships&f=false.
Stone, Meghan. “How to Cultivate Trust for a Healthy Relationship | MeetMindful.” MeetMindful | Online Dating Evolved, 26 Feb. 2015, http://www.meetmindful.com/cultivate-trust/#.