Emotional Fitness

Harness the power of emotion to deepen your love with your partner, become more successful at work, and more

The Keys to a Successful Relationship

Understanding the need for developing interdependence

The most successful relationships are the ones where there is interdependence. If two people are so independent that they live separate lives, and they don’t come together as a unit, then the relationship suffers.

If two people are so dependent on one another that they have no life outside of the relationship, then there is no growth. Instead, there is stagnation. But when two people each have lives of their own, and they come together out of a mutual choice to share their lives, then a lot of learning and growth can take place. There needs to be a nice balance of space and joining to really flourish.

Many people may never conceive of this dynamic, let alone put it into practice, but those who do practice it have the best relationships.

When we first get together, all those chemicals that go coursing through our brains and bodies tell us we can’t live one second when not in the presence of our beloved. Once we cool down, things always change. Hopefully, you will become more even-keeled and develop a deep sense of knowing that the two of you are there for each other, no matter what. Having that emotional security is what allows you to help others and possibly change the world. It also can give you a feeling of inner peace that comes from nowhere else.

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You may think that your relationship is so far from this model that having this kind of interchange is hard to imagine. The truth is that it’s never to late to have a great relationship. All you have to do is make the commitment and do the work involved. Most of the time it isn’t hard; it just requires patience, practice, and forgiveness.

Don’t underestimate the power of kindness. Just responding to your partner in a pleasant tone, even if your team didn’t win the big game, is a tool that will serve you better than any you ever bought yourself.

Not reacting with anger can make even the worst situations tolerable. When our responses are caring and appropriate, most of our communication problems simply go away. 

Sometimes, you simply need to listen and allow your partner to go through his or her own process, which may be different from yours. The big trick here is to learn not to take it personally. And when you respond, do it with understanding and make sure that you let your partner know you really did hear what he or she had to say.

Once someone knows that they have communicated their true feelings to you and that you’ve really heard them, they usually will let the issue go, move on, and never bring the subject up again. When problems keep resurfacing, it’s often because someone didn’t feel truly heard.

Many successful relationships employ these good relationship habits. They are easier to use than you may think, and they bring so much joy that, according to the people who use them, they are always worth the effort.

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Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.

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