When we hear “tune-up” we think about routine maintenance to keep things running smoothly with our car, computer, or home appliances. It makes perfect sense to us that regular attention, check-ups, and checks-ins are all part of taking care of what is important in our lives. Unfortunately, we fail to provide that same regular routine maintenance to one of the most important aspects of our lives - our relationships.
Given the ever growing demands of our daily lives, it becomes very easy to overlook the “care and feeding” of our intimate, family, and long-term relationships. Relationships have been shown to have a significant impact on our health, happiness, and longevity.
Taking the time to have a “tune-up” for your important relationships is worth the effort. Here are some simple, but important, inter-personal behaviors that will help tune-up your relationships and add to the fulfillment and satisfaction you desire from them:
Conflict Resolution - Conflict in relationships is inevitable, but the way we handle and respond to it is not. Some of us try to avoid dealing with conflict, while others want to immediately resolve things head on. Instead of trying to avoid the conflict, it can be constructive to objectively write down our thoughts and feelings and share them with the other person in a way that expresses how we feel, and in a style that makes us comfortable, such as possibly in a letter, a greeting card, or by e-mail.
For those of us who tackle conflict “head on,” it can be helpful to take a step back and discern if this issue is something that must be resolved immediately, or can we give ourselves time to process what has occurred and see the conflict from the other person’s perspective.
Respecting the others Person’s Experience of the Conflict - Respecting your partner’s or friend’s experience of a particular conflict doesn’t mean you “go along to get along” or that you should not express your own experience or feelings about it. It does mean that you respect and consider the other individual’s unique experience of what has occurred and that they want to be seen, heard, and valued just as much as you do.
By being open to accepting what the other person is feeling and what they have experienced, you send the message that you sincerely care about their feelings. And, while you may not agree with their feelings, you bring integrity to the relationship that allows them to be who they are and express how they feel in a safe and non-hostile environment.
Would You Rather Be Right or Be Loved? An important question to ask ourselves when we are dealing with conflict in a significant relationship is would we rather be right or be loved.
This is a simple litmus test that can help us to find a balance and a win-win situation for both the parties in a conflict, and also allows us to reflect on what is important in both our life and in our relationships.
- Dr. Georgianna Donadio
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