In this article, we’ll talk about relationship foundations.
Good relationships are key to our survival. And this is true for relationships at work, school, home, or any environment where two human beings need to interact.
Building and keeping quality relationships can be considered a life skill. Yet, many of us fail at this constantly.
Is it our fault? Is there anything we can do to build and strengthen our relationships, especially the ones that mean a lot to us?
Here are three relationship foundations that are essential to build – and maintain – healthy and strong connections.
Keep these in mind and you will be able to build stronger relationships – regardless of the type of relationship.
You can apply these to all your relationships – with your partner, coworkers, friends, relatives, or kids.
One of The Most Important Relationship Foundations Is Love
Love is an all-encompassing word. It has many shades and layers. The love between siblings is as strong as the love between a husband and wife. The type of love differs. But it’s love nonetheless.
It goes without saying that love is the core of any relationship.
Love can be shown in different ways and each person has their own way of doing it.
In the book The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman explains that people show their love in one or two of five different languages.
As Chapman explains,
“Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself.”
When a mother cooks her child’s favorite dish, she is using what Chapman calls the Acts of Service language. She is showing her love by doing something for the person she loves.
When a girl gives her bestie handwritten notes or poetry for her birthday or tells her how important she is in her life, she is using the language of Words of Affirmation.
For this girl, her words are the way she shows her love. She may not prepare a five course meal, but she uses nice, sweet words to tell her close friends how much they mean to her.
When a husband arrives home at 6 pm every day and spends time talking with his wife, he is showing his love using the language of Quality Time.
He is making sure to be home at a reasonable time each day to spend quality time with the person he loves. That’s his way of showing he cares.
When someone loses no opportunity to give a hug or a kiss to their partner, they are displaying Physical Touch love language. Physical touch is the way this person demonstrates their affection.
Some people are happier when their friends remember to bring them gifts for their birthday. Receiving Gifts is their primary love language. In some cases, the nature or cost of the gift doesn’t matter. What matters is that their friend bought them a physical gift.
Not everyone shows their love in the way you want them to. Love languages differ. You need to understand this and see how each person in your life is expressing their love for you.
What you can do to show love
Spend time trying to understand what your love language is. Communicating this to the other party in the relationship will help a lot.
Watch your partner or whoever you are trying to build a relationship with and figure out their love language. Have a conversation about it if required. Ask them how they think they express their love.
Once you know each other’s love language, it is easier to meet expectations and take the relationship to another level.
Another essential relationship foundation is respect.
Let’s be honest, love alone cannot keep a relationship healthy and alive forever. In fact, there is another key ingredient to that: respect.
No matter who the other person in the relationship is, there should be mutual respect. Always.
According to Counsellor and Life Coach, Nadine Hanchar,
Perhaps the most important component of a relationship, yet often the most overlooked is respect and yet a lack of respect is a common reason why many relationships fail.
A son has to respect his mother regardless of whether she is an earning member of the household or not. He has to understand that running a house is a full-time job. He needs to respect that.
Parents need to respect their teenage kids. They need to treat them as young adults and listen to them when they have an opinion. Parents often tend to see children as incapable of doing certain things and in need of constant hand holding.
But kids can actually thrive when they are under the care of parents who respect them as independent individuals with thinking brains.
Your boyfriend may have a job that does not pay much. It is easy to be condescending about this. But a good relationship is built on mutual respect. If you do not show respect, the relationship is bound to fail.
Never disrespect anyone based on your judgment parameters. We don’t talk enough about this, but respect is what most people really crave in relationships. Love is important, but love without respect is like love for inanimate things.
A practical example
An example is what happened between my friend Lisa and her partner Mark.
After they had a baby, Lisa gave up her job to take care of the house and the baby. Mark became the sole breadwinner. Mark was hardworking and made sure Lisa had everything she needed for herself, the baby, and their home.
But Lisa started to feel uncomfortable. She felt Mark did not notice what all she did in a single day to keep the home running smoothly.
Mark never mentioned her household chores, how neat the home looked, or how organized everything was. In fact, he brushed her off when she tried to tell him about her daily chores.
Lisa felt he took her and her work for granted. She felt undervalued and disrespected. Mark told her he loved her, but that was not enough for Lisa.
She wanted him to respect the work she did, just like she respected the work he did.
What you can do to show respect
Base your relationships on respect.
Assume that the person has already earned your respect. Treat them as such. When you talk to them, show that you value who they are, what they do, and what they say.
Show interest in what they do. Listen actively.
Do not trivialize what the other person is doing, no matter how small it may seem to you.
When you do this, the other person will also begin to respect you. It will become a win-win relationship built on respect and love.
One of the most important – yet often underrated – relationship foundations is trust.
Either you trust your partner or you don’t.
You can’t be in an in-between state. Nothing good can come out of doubt and mistrust.
Once you start going down the path of doubting your partner or their intentions, you are going to reach a point of no return.
According to Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University:
To have trust in a relationship means that you feel a sense of security and loyalty with your partner.
A practical example
Consider for example, the relationship between my friend Emma and her partner James.
Emma loves James a lot. More than that though, she respects and trusts him.
She has confidence in his love for her , and her friends are often surprised by this.
Let me explain: James has a very active social life. He has several friends with whom he often goes out, travels, plays sports, watches movies, and so on.
Many Emma’s girlfriends cannot understand why Emma does not doubt his time away. “Where does he go?” “What does he do?” “Why is he away so often?” “Is he seeing someone else?”
They bombard Emma with these questions, all the time.
The thing is Emma is smart and emotionally intelligent.
She understands James. She knows he needs space, like most men.
Emma knows that if she doesn’t respect James’ space, their relationship might fail in the long term.
By letting James live his life and letting him have some time apart, Emma does something powerful.
She shows her trust in him.
This obviously makes James love and respect her more than ever. However, this happened organically and over time.
By understanding James’ needs, Emma demonstrated love, respect for what James considered important, and trust that James was not going astray.
This led to greater love and mutual respect helping their relationship thrive.
What you can do to show trust
Most people interact with others in the early stages of a relationship with a feeling of mistrust.
Start with trust. Give the other person a chance to continue to build on that early foundation of trust.
Give them space and time and believe that they are bringing the same level of trust into the relationship.
Relationship Foundations: Final Thoughts
Love, respect, and trust are all equally important in a relationship. Without a balance among these three elements, the relationship might face problems.
If you feel something is off in your relationship with someone, sit back and think about which of these three key ingredients is missing. See what you can do to add more of that ingredient back into the equation to restore balance.
If you find that balance cannot be maintained, maybe it’s a red flag that person or that relationship might be not right for you.
Read more of Anu Anniah’s work at anuanniahwrites.in