Make Your Relationships Work: Five Ways To Stay Connected

Time to prioritize your relationships.

“Relationships are hard work.”

We hear this over and over. But what does it mean besides conjuring fear and dread? Or worse, hopelessness for someone who feels she is not good enough. When fear is involved your relationships are VERY hard work. Fear is exhausting, unpredictable and can get in the middle of even the most loving of your relationships.

Fear has partners withdrawing from each other, getting defensive, talking themselves out of making effort, being down-right mean to each other, and looking for love in all the wrong places.

Why does fear play such a large role in our relationships? Our ego is so afraid of getting hurt, that in its effort to try to protect us, it has us pulling away from relationships, avoiding connection, and constructing some pretty good evidence that this is necessary. So, in effort to protect ourselves, we can ruin a good thing.

Listen to your heart

[clickToTweet tweet=”Fear is the most destructive thing in romantic relationship.” quote=”Fear is probably the most destructive thing in romantic relationship. “]

So how do you make your relationships work?

5 Ways To Stay Connected

1. Listen with your heart

Listen more than you speak. Listening helps your partner know you care about them. When they are talking to you, put whatever you are doing down and give them your full attention. Make sure you carve out some times in the week to catch up and connect by talking, holding each other, and expressing appreciation.

If your partner is upset: Rather than hearing the anger or the defensiveness, put aside your fear that he or she is rejecting you and listen for what is absent but implicit in what your partner is saying. Listen for what is important to your partner that is implicit in his or her words. Ask about and acknowledge this and you will see him or her calming down and feeling better.

2. Speak from your heart rather than your mind

Ask for what you want instead of complaining. When you complain, it feels like an accusation. Your partner will respond with defensiveness instead of reassurance. Say what is important to you, rather than complaining about what your partner did wrong.

Let go of “tit for tat” thinking. “Getting even” is overrated. Remember when people hurt you, they are usually feeling unloved. You don’t have to solve this for everyone, but you can give love to your significant other. This will change their response to you. (Right away or eventually.*) Be kind and compassionate before being defensive and competitive. Express love.

* Please do not stay in an abusive situation waiting for the other person to change. Read Ending A Relationship: How do you know when enough is enough?

3. Give the benefit of the doubt

Allow mistakes. Everyone makes them since none of us is perfect. Forgive, especially the small things, right away before they fester. You may be on the other side someday wanting forgiveness and hoping you are worthy enough. Give this gift to the person you love. Stop judging. Accept the imperfections in yourself and others, and each of you will be better than who you were on the account of this acceptance.

4. Appreciate and acknowledge the good things

Showing appreciation gets more mileage than most anything else you can do in a relationship. Let your partner know what you like and he or she will do it more, because being appreciated feels that good. Take every opportunity to tell each other what you like and appreciate about each other. Don’t hesitate.

5. Choose connection

You are only vulnerable in your relationships when you think you are vulnerable. You always have the choice how to respond. Our souls long for connection. When they are not allowed that, we are dreadfully unhappy. Find someone who lifts you up and connect. Touch your partner. It speaks louder than words.

2-14, how we American’s write the Valentine’s date, looks like 2014 with the zero winking.

You and me can make this the Valentine’s YEAR. Wink, wink. You are now in cahoots.

Let love rule in 2014. Make this a year of kindness and compassion…

Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone! How are you choosing love and connection this Valentine’s Day?

20 thoughts on “Make Your Relationships Work: Five Ways To Stay Connected”

  1. Great lessons here, Jodi! I am still learning these lessons, but I have found out how important some in particular are. Listening–not just hearing my husband, but listening to him–means so much to him. I can tell. So does expressing appreciation to him. I used to not pay any attention to appreciation, but I’ve learned how good it makes all of us feel. And I like what you say about forgiveness: Forgive and remember that someday we will need forgiveness. Treat others as we want to be treated, including our significant others. That’s easy to forget–so easy to take them for granted!
    Tina Fariss Barbour recently posted..Random 5 Friday: Down by the RiverMy Profile

  2. Hi Jodi,

    Relationships ARE matters of the heart, though few are able to really use it that ways, and when the mind comes in-between is the time problems arise too 🙂

    Although Valentine’s just another day, but sometimes we need such reminders to reconnect with love, if we haven’t been doing that, and I’m plan spending it with my loved one, but of course.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

  3. Hi Jodi,

    Relationships are very brittle. We need to nurture them and Valentine’s day reminds us that we should not take each other for granted. That is why, perhaps we have days to celebrate our love for all our loving relationships.

    I would like to add that kindness, unconditional care, a word of appreciation and forgiveness should be mutual. The moment it becomes one-sided, the relationship may degenerate slowly.

    You have put everything into this article and so succinctly! Thanks for sharing.
    Balroop Singh recently posted..Opportunities Knock and Knock! Be Optimistic!My Profile

    1. Balroop,

      Welcome to and thanks so much for commenting! Mutuality is key overall! I totally agree! But its never, nor is everything in perfect balance from moment to moment. In a good relationship, when one is done, there is enough for the other to sustain, ya know?

  4. In my own experiences I have found that communication is absolutely KEY. And it is important that one partner explain what they think the other partner means to avoid miscommunication.

    1. It depends, communication can also lead to negative identity conclusions. ‘You never listen.’ Doesn’t help anyone. We have to ask for what we want instead of complaining.

  5. You have written a very nice post.To maintain relationship requires patience and adjustment…We should always understand that relationship is bigger than mistakes one make in relationship which should be pardoned….One more thing i like to point out is that one learns to manage relationship with time….

  6. “Please do not stay in an abusive situation waiting for the other person to change. Read Ending A Relationship: How do you know when enough is enough?”
    I read this on Healthy Place & the comments were overwhelming to me. I’m in a prison right now. No car, no money, no support. Sure I could run away to a shelter, but I could never leave my 17 yr old daughter alone with this man & she thinks he is gold. All I do is cry. Everytime I reach out for help (very hard to do & very scary) it backfires on me & the situation just gets worse. What do you do when you feel hopeless? You’ve tried everything you can think of, but nothing works out? What do you do? Run & save yourself & leave your child? As a mother, I cannot do that. What do you do when you can’t find the answer & you feel yourself giving up more & more each day?

    1. Mary,

      The answer may be more complicated than I can answer here. But I think you know what your options are better than anyone, it’s getting rid of the barriers one by one. Write down what is stopping you and problem solve your way around them. Everything is solve able.

      ‘The most often way we lose our power is to think we don’t have any.’ Gloria

      You think you have no power, you tell yourself over and over. Find your power and it will make all the difference.

  7. Hi Jodi,

    Wonderful advice, my friend.

    I really appreciated the point you made about accepting the imperfections in ourselves and in others. When we do this, we cease creating unrealistic expectations both of ourselves and of other people. This removes a massive self-created barrier which can then help our relationships.

    Happy Valentine’s and have a great weekend!
    Hiten recently posted..Living Life as If Today Is Your Last DayMy Profile

  8. Sometimes love is not meant to last forever, and your partner isn’t your possession. During your break up remember to criticize yourself first. It takes two to tango. It also takes two to argue. Remind yourself that it is alright not to be the same, and that people do grow apart. Stop comparing yourself to them and their ideals. Think about your happiness.

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