Relationship aspirations

Many people think they’d feel happier, if only they had this or if only they had that; like having the ‘perfect’ body, or a huge mansion, or a lottery win, or fame. Chasing the unattainable dream can be a burden for many of us.

“Years ago, when I was at university; I spent most of one whole day being lead through a ‘death workshop’. ”

It sounds strange, but it greatly enhanced my self-awareness.  Whilst in a meditative state you’re told you will die. There is no pain involved or lack of functionality, just a definitive death date. As the imaginary date of my death got closer the really important things in my life became crystal clear.

As part of my practice as a psychotherapist I ask a sequence of questions, which narrows down what individual clients consider authentically and truly important to them. In nearly all instances the most important things to others, and me, proves to be our loved ones and the relationship we have with these loved ones. Being with those we love stands way above any other considerations. Most people suggest that an empathically supportive and stable partnership really does, or would make their life whole.

Most of us recognise that connecting with others is one of the elements that facilitates wellbeing. In partnerships, this being friendly is taken to a greater depth or level. 

“Enduring, understanding and rich partnership relationships are very important to attaining a contented and psychologically positive life.”

Robert Waldinger, leader of a lengthy Harvard Study of Adult Development supports my findings:

“Loneliness is deadly. People who develop close relationships and have a wide circle of friends live longer and have a higher quality of life than those who feel isolated and lonely. The quality of the relationship matters. People in supportive and loving relationships live longer than those in high-conflict relationships”.

So, tit for tat bickering is bad for your relationships and for your overall emotional health. Continual arguments heighten your insecurities, lower your self-esteem, stunt your concentration and worsen memory. In my opinion, negative relationships compound negative ruminating and this can eventually reach a point of no return. 

Relationships with deep empathetic understanding can often offer people living in such a relationship a reduction in low mood, anxiety and stress and a general feeling of contentment. A feeling of love and positive regard from one partner also nurtures a grounded self-resilience and confidence in the receiving partner. If both partners join in this process, then it can become a positive lifelong experience.

This sort of affirmative relationship rarely comes instinctively or effortlessly. Being fully aware of your partners little foibles and being pretty acceptant of those idiosyncrasies helps. If this is attached to hard work in the flexibility and empathy departments, and the couple learn to bury defensive aggressive behaviours, then a higher level of individual and mutual contentment can be reached.

They say, “A problem shared is a problem halved.” I agree and I would add, “A joy shared is a joy doubled.”

By Shane Lutkin, lead Psychotherapist at Emotionalskills. 

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