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How successful are you in love relationships?

Relationships exist on various levels and are sensitive in their own unique ways because of the varying degrees of maintenance they require. Sometimes the most challenging relationships to maintain in our lives are the most vital because of their nature of connection to our very being.

Though fulfilling love relationships make people happy and healthy, they often fail to find or keep the love relationship they need — but not for lack of advice! There has always been an excess of relationship advice on how to get or improve love relationships. The fact that every year greater numbers of people continue to need help with their love relationships shows that this most basic human desire continues to be beyond the reach of many people.

Why do we need successful love relationships?

Human beings are social creatures. We need one another not only for comfort and protection but for the joy that gives our lives meaning and purpose. Love relationships sustain and support healthy bodies and healthy minds. We depend on love relationships:

lTo stay well and recover from illness – Both physical and mental illness. Satisfying love relationships have more to do with predicting health across all domains than does medicine, according to World Health Organisation article,
Why are Some People Healthy and Others Not?

To avoid loneliness – When we feel known and valued, we feel safe and connected to others.

To experience the joy of shared pleasure – There is no greater pleasure, no more intense joy than sharing a moving musical experience or a breath-taking sunset.

To experience intellectual stimulation – Love relationships complicate and stimulate our lives, providing us with a constant source of input, enrichment and challenge.

For support in time of need – When we are ill or troubled, love relationships provide the compassion, inspiration, and care we depend on to lift ourselves up.

Why do we fail to find or keep love relationships?

Though good reasons abound for valuing and pursuing love relationships, there are also factors that make these relationships uncomfortable and unsafe. For many people, disappointment and discouragement has been a larger part of their love experience than happiness and fulfilment. Hurtful love relationships can contribute to a loss of health, hope, vitality and interest in life.

Some of the most common reasons for failed love relationships include:

Lack of trust – Very early emotional memories, even those that may not be remembered, profoundly shape beliefs and expectations, creating doubt about the safety, availability and value of any relationship.

Fear of commitment – Those with early memories of relationship characterised by physical or emotional pain or loneliness may understandably stay away from love relationships later in life.

Jealousy and possessiveness – People with early life experiences that have made them insecure may be obsessively worried about their love relationships.

Inability to communicate needs – Those whose emotions have been ignored in the past often struggle to understand and articulate current needs.

Inability to support and understand another person – Those whose early life experiences didn’t include support and understanding from their primary caretaker will have to learn these qualities later in life to sustain love relationships.

lInability to resolve conflict – If argument or other expressions of conflict were experienced in childhood as an assault or a dead-end of communication, it is likely to remain a source of fear and dread, choking the life out of adult relationships.

What does it take to make it work?

Success or failure in adult love relationships corresponds to the experiences people had as infants and young children. This correlation between what happened so long ago and what continues to happen is no longer mere speculation but observable, verifiable fact. The future of the brain, its development and structure, are determined by the first love relationship, known as the attachment bond. In spite of these foundational challenges, we can still nurture meaningful relationships by investing some quality effort. If you are going to have a fulfilling relationship, you should be willing to invest quality time, energy, and focus in your relationship. This may not be easy, given the demands of work, career, parenting, and the need we all have for time to ourselves. Failure to invest in the ones we love results not only in the loss of pleasure but in lost opportunities for health and overall well-being. You should also be able to communicate what you feel as well as what you think. Emotional communication is the language of love. You should not be afraid of disagreement — see it as an opportunity to grow the relationship. The key is not to be fearful of disagreement. Everyone needs to express things that bother them without fear of humiliation or retaliation. It is also important to understand that no one person can meet all of our needs, and expecting too much from someone can put a lot of unhealthy pressure on a relationship. Bringing positive energy from family, friends, and outside interests into a relationship can stimulate and enrich it.

As we pursue the rat race of career success and economic well-being, it is very easy to overlook the need to make time to invest in meaningful relationships. An engaging, secure love relationship can be an ongoing source of support and happiness. Good relationships strengthen all aspects of life — your health, your mind, and your work. However, if the relationship isn’t supportive, it can be a tremendous drain. Relationships get better or worse depending on how much or how little we understand and invest in them.

Cynthia Hakutangwi is a communications and personal development consultant, life coach, author and strategist. She is the managing consultant of Wholeness Incorporated. Her published book titles include, Destination Wholeness – Going Beyond Brokenness, The Whole You – Vital Keys for Balanced Living and Intelligent Conversations: A Mindset Shift Towards a Developed Africa. She is co-author of Success Within Reach. E-mail: cynthia@wholenessinc.com. Facebook: Wholeness Incorporated. Website: www.wholenessinc.com

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