Who do you love? Celebrate love and relationships. Cultivate meaningful connections. Bond with those who lift you up and keep you accountable to being your best. Create novelty and excitement with those dear to you. Bring play and imagination into your sex life. Live fully with the people who matter to you most. Love yourself.
There are decades of research into what makes a healthy relationship. It boils down to three basic components – validation, fun, and attachment. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom from the experts like Dr.’s John & Julie Gottman, Esther Perel, PhD, and Susan Johnson, PhD.
1. To feel loved in a relationship you need to feel validated, acknowledged, understood, and respected. The Gottman‘s recommend turning toward your partner rather than away. Even if you’re busy, preoccupied or disinterested in having a conversation with them in the moment, reply with at least an, “ah”. No reply at all creates distance and lack of validation which can lead to bigger problems like criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness.
2. In order to keep the spark alive, you need to combat routine with play and imagination. Esther Perel recommends bringing novelty and excitement into the bedroom with the use of role-play. Practice seeing your lover through fresh eyes. It can fan the flames of passion.
3. Sue Johnson is all about love, attachment, and emotional connection. What’s fueling the repeated arguments with your partner? Are you incompatible? Or just screaming for a secure bond? Every human needs to feel a sense of safety and belonging in relationships. When it’s disrupted, disequilibrium and conflict arise. Really listen for the feelings your partner is expressing. It will bring you closer.
Valentine’s Day = love, sex, and emotions. Even if you don’t buy into the “Hallmark Holiday”, take a moment each day to express gratitude to your partner. Remember how you felt when you first met. Imagine him/her as a new acquaintance. What would you find attractive? Rather than getting caught up in preconceived notions, actually hear what you partner is saying in the moment.
All relationships take a bit of work. Nobody is perfect and neither is any relationship. Make it a priority to nurture the ones you love. Research has proven that healthy relationships are the number one factor in predicting well-being and health.