Let’s be honest, when it comes to relationships, a lot of us are just winging it. Initially, we’re blown away by the euphoric spell that love casts on us, but as we transition into the grind of everyday life, personal baggage might start to seep in… Maybe our feelings get hurt, maybe we emotionally withdraw, maybe we create unnecessary conflict, maybe our coping mechanisms are out-dated, and maybe we’re just feeling plain bored! The bottom line is: creating and fostering a joyful and healthy relationship is no easy feat.
Many people will be pleased to know that there’s a growing field of research that is increasingly solid guidance into the habits of the healthiest and happiest partnerships – as well as how to save any struggling relationship!
Ultimately, the science, or “answer”, behind romantic relationships comes down to a crux of lessons that are simple, obvious, and difficult to master (yes, all at the same time!) These include: a strong emotional connection, positivity, and empathy.
Let’s find out more…
Maintaining A Strong Emotional Connection
Emotional responsiveness can be deemed something of pivotal importance. In all the work done on developmental and social psychology over the years, this is the one thing that stands out in the secret to loving relationships; to keeping them solid and vibrant, and to falling in love again and again.
Simply put, the responsiveness is about sending out a signal and having the other person respond back to it. In love, the burning question is ultimately: “Are you here for me?” It’s not just about being a friend and helping with chores around the house; it’s about emotional synchronicity and staying tuned in with one another.
Each party in a partnership has their differences; it’s natural. But what makes couple unhappy is when they experience and emotional disconnection – unable to find security or a safe haven within the other person.
Criticism and rejection can be extremely distressing, and are often matched with withdrawal and defensiveness.
In order to foster emotional responsiveness between partners, couples need to bond by way of having conversations that explicitly express their needs and steer clear of criticism. Couples need to actively learn and practice how to talk about feelings in ways that assist in bringing their partner closer.
Keeping Things Positive
Emotional disengagement can easily happen in any relationship when couples are not fostering an environment of, or doing things that create, positivity. When you allow this to happen, people start to feel like they just keep moving further and further apart, to the point where they barely know each other anymore.
I’m sure we all know the age-old saying that sometimes “it’s the little things that count the most.” This is true – and these little things should be done, often! Research suggests that couples need to engage in small, routine points of contact that demonstrate appreciation.
A great place to start is to find ways to compliment your partner on a daily basis. This could be through expressing your appreciation for something they might have done, or directly and specifically telling them what you love about them – and get creative! Two beneficial plus-sides can be accomplished through this exercise – firstly, your partner will feel validated and generally good about himself or herself; and secondly, you’ll be constantly reminded about why you came to be with them in the first place!
You Need To Listen To Your Brain, Not Just Your Heart
When it comes to the brain and love, biological anthropologists have found (after putting people into a brain scanner), that there are three core neurochemical components that are found in people who report high relationship satisfaction. These include: practicing empathy, controlling one’s emotions and stress levels, and maintaining positive views regarding their partner.
In an authentically joyful relationship, partners will make a concerted effort to empathize with one another – understanding each other’s perspectives, rather than always just trying to be “right”.
Controlling your stress and emotions boils down to a basic concept: Observe what’s happening, but do not react!
If you really feel like the shit’s gonna hit the fan, take a timeout by heading to the gym, reading a book, or calling a friend – anything that will help steer you off the path of destruction.
Keeping a positive view about your partner basically just involves reducing the amount of time that you spend dwelling on all the negative aspects of your relationship. It’s common knowledge that nobody is perfect, but if you want a prosperous relationship, you need to get to the point where you can overlook those things in your partner, forgetting about the hurtful things that were said in the heat of the moment; just focusing on what’s really important. This is great for the mind, body, soul, and relationship!
Happier Relationship = Happier Life
At the end of the day, the quality of your romantic relationships will dictate the quality of your life. Great relationships are not merely just happier and more pleasant; when we know how to heal relationship and keep that tight bond, they make us more resilient than ever. No clichés here – true love really does make us stronger; it’s physiology! Connection with people who love and value us for who we are is our only safety net in life.