Here are some tips for making a positive emotional environment in which relationships thrive:
1. Seek to relate to your partner with love as between beings of worth in themselves. This relating includes a “You,” a “Thou,” an “Other,” experienced as a person of unconditional worth and value aside from practical considerations. The bottom line is “we,” or sometimes “you.” Two “I’s” standing in a person-to-person relationship. Martin Buber, the eminent philosopher and theologian, calls this “I-Thou” relating as opposed to an “I-It” relationship.
2. Safety: Free from fear of physical, psychological or emotional pain and abuse. Free from threats, force, punishment, coercion, manipulation, pressure, stress, intimidation, humiliation, embarrassment, and invalidation.
3. Freedom to make real choices and to pursue one’s healthy self-interest. Give yourself and your relationship real choices by honoring their decisions.
4. Respectfulness for each other’s feelings, emotional needs, beliefs, values and uniqueness. Remember that respect is earned, not demanded. Acknowledge, accept, understand and nurture feelings.
Respect their feelings by:
¬ Asking them how they feel.
¬ Asking them how they would feel before taking action.
¬ Thinking about how you want them to feel – what feelings create a positive environment for them?
5. Validating someone is to accept his or her individuality and feelings. Validation is one of the keys to emotional intelligence. Validating is allowing them to accept themselves. Self-acceptance is a key to high self-esteem. Often, the only thing we need is validation to feel better. Whenever there is a problem, remember to always first validate the feelings.
6. Empower your partner. Support and nurture your partner’s needs, talents, potential and interests.
¬ Ask them how they feel. “What would help you feel better?”
¬ Teach them to solve their own problems using empathy, compassion and mutual respect for each other’s feelings.
7. Empathy: Caring, understanding and concern about each other’s feelings and the ability to feel and understand the emotions of your relationship partner. Avoid labels and judgment, “should” and subjective labels (good/bad; nice/rude, etc.).
8. Flexibility. Be flexible where changes can be made easily and smoothly without conflict or rancor.
9. Self-awareness. Knowing how you feel in “real time” and being able to label emotions precisely rather than projecting them on your relationship partner.
10. Being able to talk about feelings with others. Express your emotions rather issuing commands disguised as requests. Ask them to help you meet your needs; don’t demand it.
11. Be responsible for yourself. Learn to take primary responsibility for your own emotions and happiness rather than blame them on your relationship partner. Not saying that others “made” you feel the way you feel.
12. Practice being appropriately apologetic. Apologize when you feel regret for something you have said or done that has contributed to negative consequences in the relationship.
13. Seek voluntary cooperation. Not issuing commands or being over controlling.
14. Balance. Being able to make decisions using a healthy balance of emotion and reason.
15. Nurture your love as a couple. Surprise each other every month with plans for having fun as a couple. Make every birthday, anniversary and holiday a time to celebrate your relationship with each other.
16. Become true partners in planning your future together. Fulfilling your dreams nurtures the love that once brought you together.
17. Keep your friendships alive and well. Humans are social creatures. They do not do well when they are alone. Partners open to outside friendships enjoy a far richer and more meaningful life in a committed primary relationship.
18. Nurture the love that brought you together as a couple. Many people, after marrying or becoming a couple, do little to nurture their love for one another. There seems to be a common misconception that intimate relationships will thrive automatically without any effort.
19. Be tolerant and patient. You are not perfect and your friends will not be perfect, so don’t give up on a friend during the down times. No relationship can exist very long without apologizing, making up, forgiving and forgetting.
20. Make simple gestures such as smiling, saying hello and calling up a buddy with plans for fun. They go a long way toward forming meaningful relationships. You can’t be passive about developing friendships; you must reach out to others.
21. Find one activity that you love so much you can’t wait to do it. A whole new world of friendships can open up to you when you find an activity for which you have a passion.
22. Edify your partner. Let your partner know as often as possible what you admire, respect and love about him or her, just like you did when you first fell in love.
23. Encourage each other to grow as individuals. This growth, in turn, will strengthen your union as a couple.
24. Keep your love alive while raising children. Resolve the differences you have as parents, either on your own or with professional help. This will help you become a parenting team, and not competitors.
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