As human beings we long for social relationships, even if we don’t consciously believe that. There is a reason single people, young and old, are happier when they have a pet, dog or cat. We are born and we will die seeking for and striving to maintain relationships.
Sonja Luybomirsky, a psychologist, states in her book the How Of Happiness; “there is something special and unique about relationships and we would do well to strengthen, nourish and enjoy them.”
“No man is an island.” John Donne
We seek out those strong, stable, positive relationships and often we will stay in harmful, toxic or unfulfilling relationships as opposed to no relationship at all.
We resist breaking off relationships, even those we find harmful. I see evidence of this when clients stop coming because they have decided to break up and then a year or so later I get a call from them, “Can we come see you again, we want to try to make it work.” People hang on to a sense of belonging.
Without a sense of belonging we can experience various negative consequences. We feel lost and alone, which often triggers sadness, anxiety and depression.
We feel incomplete, unhappy in life, we often question why do we try so hard in life if there is no one to share it with. Some will engage in promiscuous behaviors, looking for that feeling of connectedness.
A study done in orphanages after the war in the Balkans found that otherwise healthy babies died because they were not touched enough. A sense of belonging is crucial to our wellbeing.
So how to maintain a relationship? Research indicates that successful couples spend 5 hours a week in conversation with each other. How much time do we talk with our partner? There are a few things you might consider doing to boost that amount of time spent with each other.
Start with just scheduling into your calendar time for each other (in this generation, we all live by the calendar). Make sure you honour that schedule and your partner will feel that he or she is important and central to you.
Also schedule time to do “stuff” together. Farmer’s market, go for a walk, date nights and similar kind of activities create and maintain a feeling of connectedness or belonging.
Work together, dishes, yard work, building a shed, paying bills or whatever, it seems less threatening, takes less time and is, at least, comforting if not fun. A spontaneous kiss while doing household chores can be fun and can do wonders to connect.
Take 5 minutes a day, each, expressing gratitude and appreciation for our partner and what they do. Expressed gratitude is very powerful and positive. Every day you can spend 20 minutes connecting, I have discussed this before in Daily Connections. Pick a time you can do this everyday, the same time every time, builds a routine.
Start the conversation with gratitude, then scheduling or reporting to each other what is happening, discuss some issue you have noticed and end with your hopes and dreams. Connection 101.
A morning routine should include a real hug, one in which we are really present and feeling it. It should also include each of you finding out at least one thing the other is doing that day and perhaps something they will be doing to have fun and one thing that is on their mind, concerns. In the evening there should a reunion routine; a kiss and hug, “ I missed you, it is nice to be together again,” 15 minutes to discuss the day and its events in a non-stressful manner.
It might be interesting to develop a media-free zone in your home where you are free from distractions to just interact with each other, to enjoy each other’s company and person.
Some things that could be included; dancing, reading a book or poetry, playing cards or board games, taking classes, starting or doing hobbies, planning dates and vacations, living out your fantasies.
If you want, you can look up Charlotte Diamond and download and listen to her song 4 Hugs A Day. I recommend a minimum of 4 6-second hugs a day. These are full bodied, both arms engaged, fully present hugs.
Six seconds is long enough to feel each other’s presence and short enough to not feel awkward. Remember, physical touch is essential to our wellbeing and to feeling of belonging.
Whatever you decide, the need to belong is inherent in us, we all desire to feel like we ‘fit” somewhere with someone. To belong is to feel a reason to be involved in our own life and to be involved in our life is to be alive. To be alive is to feel that you belong.
“Remember, you have spent a lot of time practicing how to be miserable. Learning how to be happy together will take a little time too.” William and Carleen Glasser.
Photo credit: (pixabay)
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