“What makes you both a happy couple?”
“What are some of the habits that keep your relationship alive?”
“What habits build a meaningful relationship?”
These were some of the questions that I received on my Instagram few days ago. As I look back, I realize that there were strategies that we adopted as a couple that led us to connect deeply.
In today’s post I’m going to share those changes.
- Discarding the Mental Map (Expectations):
A map is a representation of the Earth but it is not the Earth.
The same way we all have a representation of how a relationship should be in our head. This representation is influenced by many factors like our environment, the movies we watch, the books we read, our beliefs and values. When we enter a relationship with this map, we forget to see the reality. We respond or react to this representation and not to the reality. This creates chaos and misunderstanding. When we understood this, we both took some time to decode our thoughts and finally discarded our mental maps.
- Gifting values:
Swapnil valued Health and I valued Freedom. When we both chose to gift each other what we valued the most, trivial things like who left the towel on the bed, who forgot to turn the washing machine on or who forgot to pay the bill didn’t matter.
- Making the most of our strengths:
When it comes to planning Swapnil is highly efficient and when it comes to organization I am the best. Swapnil is an expert in financial planning and technical stuff while researching; coordinating with people is a skill that I possess. In the initial stages of our relationship I felt that he should be more organized. Some days I’d fight with him saying, “Why can’t you be organized?” Some days he’d say, “Why can’t you wake up early and exercise?”
This is a challenge most couples face. We want to change the other person. We want them to behave like us, dress the way we want, eat the food that we like and do the things that we enjoy. In short we want a clone, isn’t it?
Swapnil took care of the finances and I plan all our vacations. He handles the planning and I keep the house organized. This way we make the most of our strengths.
- Stop Generalizing:
“You never remember this”
“You always do this”
“You behave like this all the time”
These are generalizations. We disagree many a times, however we consciously choose the way we speak during the disagreements. We stopped using generalizations like never, always, all the time etc. We talk about the specific issue and the current status. This allows us to focus on solutions
- Shifting the tonality:
Swapnil speaks softly while I’m a little loud (too loud) and during disagreements I literally shout. This behaviour really bothered him. It took many years for me to realize that many a times what we say doesn’t hurt but the way we say it matters a lot and hurts a lot too. So I consciously chose to shift my tonality and this definitely brought a shift in our relationship.
- Focusing on Behaviour and not labeling an Identity:
This is the most important change that we have adopted.
“You are such a lazy person.”
“You are so irresponsible”
“You are an angry person”
In the initial stages of our relationship we did this a lot. We took our behaviours and attached them to our identity. In the past few years we have learnt to disassociate the behaviour and identity.
“The laziness that you show to organise is something I don’t like.” This is a better statement than “You are such a lazy person”
So these were the six changes that we adopted to strengthen our relationship. There are days when we forget these points and do mess up, however what matters is we immediately become aware and apologize.
Try any one of these points and you’ll begin to notice minor shifts in your relationship. Remember that the seed of love needs an environment of respect, trust, appreciation, adaptation, acceptance and actions to grow into a strong tree.
Which one of these tips will you start using in your relationship? How will you use them? What are your strategies to build a healthy relationship? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Love & Gratitude