Like a farmer who ploughs the ground, fertilises it and plants the best seed, so is a partner who relates by making little deposits every day in a way that enriches the relationship rather than living like a parasite. Let me share some ways we can nurture our relationships.
Power of small things
Embracing a culture of doing random acts of kindness is like little deposits made into your bank account. When you stop doing those small things like going shopping together, appreciating one another, and going away for retreats together, then the creativity in your relationship dies. Danger comes when either spouse claims to be busy with work, business, or is bored with routine in the home. This also goes for seemingly insignificant negative acts by one or both partners. This too, erodes the good and undermines the foundation of the relationship. Consequently, don’t underestimate the impact of a journey of small steps, progress becomes illusive.
Just like the engine oil in a car, so is love to a relationship. This calls for carefully made decisions to treat each other with fairness and kindness without expecting anything in return. It is by being the right spouse that we are positioned to change the cause of the relationship for the better.
Venting is natural
Venting is one way of refreshing the relationship. Providing opportunities for venting is like the exhaust system in a car. Even humans have to pass out dirty air. Our bodies naturally let go of toxicity when we exhale and when we go to the restroom. A counselling psychotherapist, Isabel Kirk agrees by saying, “venting is actually a healthy habit, but it all comes down to how and when we do it.” This requires that truth be spoken in love if the intended communication is to be received well.
The big issue here is what to do with the physical and emotional toxins that accompany our communication. It is a given fact that, accumulated negative emotions result from unmanaged stress, hurtful communication by one partner, and accumulated pain from past events. It is important to gain the skill of separating feelings from the intended communication. Is this about hiding your feelings?
Self-control can help us manage our anger in the midst of communication. We cannot deny the fact that feelings play a big role in communication. Therefore, emotional awareness, or the ability to understand feelings, is key in communicating with other people. This will mean taking notice of the feelings and emotions of other people, and how they influence the way we communicate. Sometimes, understanding how other people communicate is more important in helping you respond better.
Reactions can overshadow responses
Our reactions are key to desired responses. First, we must embrace an attitude of accepting and expressing negative emotions politely and with intentionality. Second, this calls on us to express such feelings without destroying each other. That means that we avoid the use of words, gestures and tone of voice that intends to unite and not hurt our partner. Third, consider the other person’s needs and ask if this is a good time to vent. Finally, recognise that everything does not revolve around you. Being sensitive to the feelings and aspirations of each other should always be at the forefront.
Let me point out two issues here: first, leaving many small unresolved issues behind will only clutter the environment. In addition, when a relationship lacks the avenue to download issues that are of concern, then such clutter breeds dissatisfaction and poison in the relationship. Gradually, the pile up of such unresolved issues will lead to stress, bitterness and frustration. These are like the small foxes that spoil the vine. With time, the relationship will be in an awkward place where partners fail to find the intended joy.
In any relationship, self-restrain, particularly when negative feelings are expressed by one partner, is paramount to keeping the relationship on track. The lack of self-control will lead to either partner falling prey to behaviour that could compromise the standing or integrity of the relationship. Self-control can help us overcome obstacles. This is about using discretion when expressing our desires. When we do this, we stay focused even in a tense situation rather than exploding as we clamour for attention. When we come to the realisation that we are not the only ones who are right all the time, neither are we the only ones gifted by God; we find it easier to praise our partners in their areas of gifting.
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