What could be more important now than having quality relationships, ones that support us? How about four habits that can create them? Check out this presentation by Dr. Andrea & Jonathan Taylor-Cummings. They suggest that the lack of quality relationships is killing us more than obesity and lack of exercise. The biggest predictor of teenage mental health is family breakdown. To solve problems of this scale, we need fences at the top of cliffs, rather than more ambulances at the bottom. We need to help our relationships before they fall off and break, rather than administer relationship aid once they’re broken.
They suggest four hurdles–challenges–that show up in relationships:
- Unmet expectations
- Poor conflict resolution
- Trust and respect issues
- Poor communication
4 habits that help our relationships from breaking:
- Be curious not critical: We tend to get frustrated due to unmet expectations. Our biggest source of frustration is that our strengths are unrecognized, unappreciated. Invest the time to find out how we’re wired differently, so we can play to each others’ strengths, rather than waste time criticizing differences.
- Be careful, not crushing: Never underestimate the power of caring. Caring helps us get over hurdles of poor conflict resolution. Our fight/flight responses tend to be very “me” centered. We need to find ways to show up better, to care for each other through the process, and work toward genuine resolution. To do this, we set boundaries around our behavior in conflicts. They suggest these as starting points: don’t hit each other, don’t walk out of the house in anger, don’t threaten divorce. Being careful, not crushing, teaches us to work together, to argue well, to treat each other with care, so we can come out stronger together.
- Ask, don’t assume: Never question your partner’s intentions. Ask! Asking helps get over mistrust and disrespect that can creep into relationships. Asking helps us be courageous at having difficult conversations that have us asking and discussing rather than assuming.
- Connect, before you correct: Connecting helps us communicate real value and appreciation. Resist giving “constructive feedback.” People go where they feel welcomed; people stay where they feel valued. Learn specific ways that build warmth in relationships.
Why leave relationships to chance? If you do, then they may fall off the cliff. We all invest in things that we value. What’s stopping us from investing in relationships?
When we practice these habits, we begin to thrive as individuals, as couples, and by default as nations, and as one world. Having a united, supportive world would really help right now. Take responsibility for your part in creating this.