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On Whom Can I Depend? How Relationships Support Well-Being

When illness lurks, we treasure secure love.

(c) Bialasiewicz/fotosearch
Source: (c) Bialasiewicz/fotosearch

Many Americans—and in fact, many people in many countries around the globe—tend to be in relatively good health. COVID brought a sudden and shocking awareness to many of that people that perhaps health cannot be taken for granted. "If I should get sick, who would take care of me?"

My husband and I certainly experienced this question. In the first weeks of COVID, we happened to be visiting our daughter and her family in a faraway city. At one point, we suddenly turned to each other to face that tough question: Who would take care of us if we got COVID, or an illness of any kind?

On the spot, we made a decision. We both had suddenly realized that instead of flying back to our home in Denver—home of our family for multiple generations but far away from any of our adult children or our many grandchildren—we needed to live closer to our kids. "Let's stay here," we decided. "Let's find a place to live that's within a few minutes' walking distance from our eldest daughter and her family. That would bring us also just a short drive from daughter number 2 and her husband and brood one city away." That was it—a no-brainer decision. Thank you, COVID, for making the issue so clear.

Many others apparently have been making similar decisions. As Jamie Ducharme wrote in Time, "In the world of relationships, jewelers are reporting double-digit increases in engagement ring sales, the Washington Post reported in December. In the 2020 installment of Match’s annual 'Singles in America' report, more than half of respondents said they’re prioritizing dating and rethinking the qualities they search for in a partner, likely sparked by the complete social upheaval of this year."

The next question: How can you be sure that you can depend on the one(s) you love?

Which of your relationships have the potential to be strong enough to give you a sense of security on the question of who will be there for you in tough times?

Time, attention, and shared good times can strengthen those bonds. Geographic proximity helps. Above all, how much negative energy and how much positive "vibes" flow in your interactions in those relationships impacts the security of your relationship.

Notice how much positive energy you give via smiles, eye contact, appreciation, affection, interest in the other, sharing laughter, and caring for each other.

Notice too how much you give the opposite. Hopefully it's virtually no negatives, that is, no complaints, criticism, blame, grouchiness, telling your partner what to do, or anger.

For almost everyone, there is more that could make your parenting, extended family, friendships, significant other, marriage, and other relationships even more enjoyable no—and dependable when you really need them. (Learn more from my website.)

Commitment breeds security.

Commitment also matters. That's what makes marriage a more secure bet than living together. Marriage adds a legal commitment. It also generally solidifies an internal mental shift from maybe to for sure and forever.

The commitment to marriage has, however, its limits. That contract can be broken if the positive interactions are not high enough and the negative energies are too high. Or if one spouse falls prey to what I refer to as the 3 A's: Addiction, Affairs, and abusive Anger.

The bottom line: Are you using what hopefully will be the last few months of COVID as a springboard for upgrading the key relationships in your life?

For sure, this COVID era has been for many a time of deprivations: loss of income, problems at work, challenges from too much social isolation, loss of freedom to go out and about, and for all too many, serious illness and even death.

Yet, at the same time, COVID offers a chance to reevaluate who you can depend on in your life—and a time to think seriously about what you might want to upgrade in those relationships. What could you do differently to ease tensions and to enrich the flow of positive interactions in those relationships?

Relationship upgrades are perfect investments. They pay you benefits now—and at the same time raise the odds that when you especially need care and support, that person will be there for you. Thank you, COVID, for reminding us to nurture strong and loving bonds with those on whom, someday, we may need to depend.

For married folks: Marriage expert and author Chana Levitan is currently offering a free Global Marriage Booster, comprising video interviews with marriage experts from 11 countries around the globe, each offering their perspectives on how couples can strengthen their marriage.