Humans are social creatures. We have a need to belong and connect with others.
Our most intimate relationships offer us support, meaning, and love, helping us to thrive and grow as people.
Since we influence others as much they influence us, the choices we make in our relationships will highly influence how they unfold.
Below you will find ideas to help foster more compassion, love, and support in your relationships.
Accentuate the positive
When a spouse or partner does something right, let them know. Make it a point to praise and emphasize positive behavior. Don’t focus attention on the negative behavior you want to eliminate, but instead accentuate the positive behavior you want to increase. A great resource for this is Whale Done by Ken Blanchard.
Relationship success depends on a balance of offering compliments and praise along with negative criticism. Remember to compliment and express what you love about your partner.
The amount of conflict and criticism present in a relationship is a large predictor of the level of satisfaction and stability in the relationship.
Focus on the positive and start building trust and security.
Recognize and build strengths
Everyone has unique strengths that they bring to the table. One person may be great at following routine and organizing the house, where as another person’s strength may lie in thinking of creative ideas for a birthday party and spending time with friends.
Learn to mobilize peoples’ strengths and provide your partner the opportunity to engage in the tasks where they can use their natural abilities. People feel good when using their signature strengths.
There are 24 signature strengths according to Martin Seligman. You can take the signature strengths test here.
Doing what you both do best can offer the chance to work together more effectively. Discover how you can help each other in areas of weakness and build each other up in areas of strength.
All you need is love
Sternberg’s triangular theory on love offers a wonderful framework for how to have a more loving relationship. According to this theory, the ideal form of love is a mix of intimacy, passion, and commitment.
Intimacy – Having a close relationship based on trust and clear communication. Intimacy relates to being emotionally close and able to share feelings and experiences.
Passion – Build the romance in your relationship. Don’t let the fire be extinguished. A major factor that keeps love alive is physical attraction and the infatuation that probably ignited the relationship in the first place.
Commitment – Being willing to stay together and making a commitment is obviously crucial for any long-term relationship to be possible. There are many reasons commitment develops, such as children, financial resources, and overall friendship.
Relationships can be high or low in any one of these levels, with a total of eight types of love being possible. When a relationship encompasses all three it is called “consummate love.”
Many relationships will waver and different areas will need to be worked on, but to make any relationship more fulfilling and loving it will take hard work to maintain each component and continue growing as a couple.
Build resources together
Every relationship needs external support from friends and family. Build alliances outside of your relationship by focusing on what you both enjoy and reaching out to others in these areas. This will offer a chance to grow in your relationship by enjoying positive experiences, as well as having support during times of adversity.
Relationships are impacted by outside dynamics such as family, friends, and work, so pay attention to how these external areas influence your relationship.
You and your partner are in the relationship together. Be willing to put in the effort to maintain passion, commitment, and intimacy, and focus on encouraging and supporting each other. Accentuate the positive to begin seeing mutual growth and development.