Do you remember the last time you did a relationship audit?
Is there something that defines a good life? The Harvard Grant Study, research about the mental and physical well-being of 268 young adults spanning 75 years, was the largest of its kind in the world.
2014 marked the end of the study, which revealed some surprising results. Strong relationships far outweigh wealth, social class, fame, or intelligence as a predictor of happiness and life satisfaction, as well as a better predictor of living long and healthy lives. Relationship quality is also associated with longevity, health, and financial success.
The past two years have forced us all to reevaluate how we live our lives. We’re also when we should evaluate our relationships after almost two years of this new normal. There are a few steps that we can take to hit reset. Let’s look at four.
Do not be afraid to express your feelings, whether they are of love, dissatisfaction, or discomfort. Choose to speak from a place of love whenever you do so. Choose words that convey your feelings or fears in a kind and constructive way, especially when sharing feelings of discomfort. How you say, something is as important as what you say. Let your partner digest what you say. Even when you don’t completely understand the reasoning behind the request, you will be accommodating and making exceptions for those you love, even when such conversations seem scary.
Align yourself every quarter as a couple. Examine the course of your relationship and consider your goals as a couple and as individuals. This might seem like a challenge, but it allows you to course-correct. Until you sit down and evaluate your environment, you won’t know its effect. Without periodic check-ins, it is also difficult to understand another person’s perspective, no matter how intimately you know them.
Perhaps you and your partner sit down and realize that work, extended family, children, finances, a new ambition, and other factors are taking a toll that perhaps even they had not discovered. This allows you and your family to gain perspective and choose the right course for your relationship.
Take time for yourself. It is important to keep track of who you are, what you want, and how you plan to achieve it, especially in an intimate relationship. I would recommend setting aside an hour a day to do something non-stressful that you enjoy (going for a walk; listening to some music; doodling; painting; or just writing down your thoughts). In essence, it’s time to break away. Having time alone every week, month, or even yearly is better than not having it at all. It is also a great way to rejuvenate.
Celebrate whenever you can. Whether it’s a birthday or an anniversary, a milestone or a small achievement, use them all to acknowledge and celebrate your relationship. You’ll feel seen, and your partner will feel appreciated. In an incredibly unpredictable and often-challenging world, celebrating and honoring rituals, even when they are ones we created, helps us experience and appreciate joy more fully. Come together mindfully around an activity that requires your full attention so that you can take a break from the stress of daily life, which can recharge you both.
We should commit to these fundamental efforts because nothing can operate on autopilot or tend to itself indefinitely. It keeps your relationship healthy and strong by keeping both hands on the tiller. And remember, it’s a form of self-care as well.