Better relationships start with love. I can tell you the exact moment when I fell in love with my husband. This is not a romantic story. It’s practical. Because I’m pragmatic. It’s perfect for me.
I had been crushing on him for some time and this particular evening I had him over to my apartment for dinner. I don’t even remember now what I cooked. Probably a stir fry. We fixed our plates buffet style (my apartment was tiny) and we ate in the living room. When we were finished eating, the most magical thing happened. He started cleaning up the kitchen. I was awe struck.
Now, I know that to anyone else this moment might go unnoticed. I know that to most people, this isn’t something to fall head-over-heals about. But for me, this literally rocked my world. I had cooked meals for other guys. The typical thing was to eat together and then he would go sit in the living room and read the paper (comics) while I quickly put away the food and stacked the dishes in the sink to be washed tomorrow when I was alone again. Having somewhat cleaned up the kitchen, I would join him in the living room.
I saw my future this way, my married life. Only, I would wash the dishes instead of saving them for the following day. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with this. It’s just the way it was. I thought that was how it would always be. I had this vision of the wife always being busy at home. ALWAYS. Especially if there are children. Morning and night. I had always thought of the husband as someone who goes to work and when he comes home he is just going to sit on the sofa and read the paper.
I have no idea where I came up with this. This is certainly not a reflection of my own childhood. But, it is a belief I had, nonetheless. When Sky started cleaning up our dinner mess, I knew right away that he was the man I was going to marry. He completely changed my vision of what married life could look like. All the sudden it wasn’t me in the kitchen and him on the sofa. It was like we were in this together. 100%
I suddenly had a really clear vision of what married life could look like, and it was so much better than I had ever imagined. Every vision I had previously had in my mind was blown away by possibility. I’m telling you this because I want you to be aware of your own current limiting beliefs, whether they be relationship bound or something else.
It’s really difficult to have this awareness because you don’t know what you don’t know until you know. Most of us don’t even realize that we are limiting ourselves. We don’t realize that there is something better for us out there. But for the sake of relationships, lets take a closer look at how we can improve them by changing our beliefs.
Brooke Castillo talks about how a belief is a thought that you keep on thinking. What thoughts do you keep thinking about your relationship? This can be any relationship, not only the one you have with your spouse. What are your thoughts about how things are with you + your mom? How are things with your kids? Your friends? Pick one relationship and apply these 7 ways to create better relationships. Because feeling better feels good, and we all just want to feel good + enjoy life.
7 WAYS TO CREATE BETTER RELATIONSHIPS
1. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Taking care of yourself ultimately means liking yourself. It’s understanding that you matter and that you’re here. You are a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s not complete without you, so would you please show up. Show up and take care of yourself by knowing what your values are and then live accordingly. Show up for you as you, so you can give to the whole relationship.
2. PAY ATTENTION
Paying attention means to be curious. When you don’t see eye-to-eye, find a different way to look at the situation. See things from his perspective. How would you feel if you came home to the way things are? Set your excuses aside. If you didn’t have ANY excuses, how would the situation look to you? Paying attention is noticing what works + why it works so you can do more of that for your relationship.
3. GIVE SOLITUDE
I think solitude is vital to us as humans. Some of us need it more (me) than others, but I think it’s important that we all have some time alone. Spending time alone, especially in nature, is a great way to center yourself, to gather your thoughts and to asses what’s next for you. It helps you to know what you want and how you can get it. Solitude really only works when one’s mind is free from all devices + entertainment. Stop the stimulation and go inward. You will find balance and be ready to show up in your relationship.
4. MAKE EFFORT
Make the effort to have a better relationship. It’s not going to magically get better. You have to make it better. You have to work. This doesn’t mean you need to change the other person. No. That doesn’t work anyway. Nobody likes it when somebody tries to change us anyway. All you have to do is change yourself. If you want different results, you need to do different things. What are you doing to create a better relationship? How did your relationship start? What were you doing when you relationship was at it’s best? How can you make it even better than that? Creating a better relationship takes effort that only you can make, not the other person.
5. DAILY CONVERSATIONS
Talking is so important. Sometimes all that comes out is what the kids are doing (or not). Maybe all that comes out is work, work, work. It’s important to let all that stuff out daily so you can get to the good stuff. The good stuff is your dreams. It is your future. It is your whole relationship that you are living, creating together. What kinds of things do you want to do together? What adventures do you want to go on? Where do you want to travel? Where do you want to live? What do you want to do?
When we don’t have these daily conversations about what is happening at home and what is going on at work to get all that ‘stuff’ out, it ends up coming out on dates. Then we’re left feeling lack + stressed out and ready for another date pronto. Keep up the daily conversations so your relationship can thrive.
6. KNOW YOUR LOVE LANGUAGES
There is a book called The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman. I’ve never actually read it (it’s on my list), but I did take this quiz. I had my husband take it too, and we couldn’t be more opposite. That’s why we are so perfect for each other; we balance. Knowing your spouses love language is a great way to serve + love him. Remember when I talked about how pleasure is and must remain a by-product in this post on wellness? We can receive pleasure by serving, and this will help you serve your relationship in one of the best ways possible.
7. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
When you are in a relationship with someone, it’s never all about you. You are a part of something. You want to make it whole. Whole is 100%. You need to give 100%. You need to be all in. You can’t show up half way and expect to get all the results. Each person in the relationship is a part. Take care of yourself (remember that was the first tip) so you can show up. In a relationship 100% + 100% = 100% It’s about the whole relationship. It’s about the joy + the pain + the sorrow. It’s about what you can learn from the hard times that fuel your dreams + inspire you to grow so you can experience even more joy + greater happiness together. You’re in this together, and it’s so much bigger than you.
Your relationship is the beginning of your family. How your children act will reflect on how your spouse relationship is doing. This has been proven to me time + time again. Our kids are such great gifts to us, ever so intuitive. When it feels like you are doing too much discipline, check in on how your relationship is. When you have a good spouse relationship, you naturally have happier children. The whole atmosphere at home is lighter. Do it for them because it will make your life easier. It’s about how we can serve them and have better relationships all around. And remember that when we serve out of love, we receive pleasure. It’s only natural.
As I wrap things up here I want to encourage you that if you are feeling the struggle in your relationships, it’s because your relationship is ready to go to the next level. There is always more love to be felt. Think about how it is when you have your second (or fifth) baby. You wonder how you could possibly love another child as much as the first one. You think that your life is too busy or that there isn’t enough money for more kids. But then you have another one, and you receive so much more love. The beautiful thing is that this love is just multiplied. The love you have for your other children is still there, just as full. We are given more love, more pleasure, when we have healthy relationships.
So going forward, remember to take care of yourself so you can show up. Pay attention and find what works and keep doing it. Give solitude, or whatever it is that you want most, give it. Make the effort to improve your relationship, and keep talking— daily. Find out what your love languages are and look for ways to honor those. And lastly, remember that you are only a small part and that you need to show up 100% in order for the relationship to be whole. Take these 7 ways to create better relationships and tweak them to fit you so that it becomes easy + enjoyable to be with your loved ones.