If you’ve turned on the radio, opened a newspaper or stepped into a store recently, you know one thing: Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. January has come to a close, and our minds are, yet again, focused on giving gifts of love. How will you show love this year? A box of candy? A bouquet of flowers? A romantic dinner for two?
This Valentine’s Day, instead of giving of one of these temporary tokens of love, consider giving something that carries throughout the entire year: happiness.
Research has shown that strong relationships are what really matters when it comes to happiness. A person can have a successful career, a large bank account and good health, but still be unhappy if they do not have positive support and love from others.
Because our relationships have a significant influence on our emotional well-being, it’s important to continually strengthen them. Below are three components to keep in mind when working to develop a foundation for a successful, long-lasting relationship that can keep you and your loved ones happier and healthier all year long.
Honesty really is the best policy
Having a happy relationship starts with honesty. Sometimes you’ll find that honesty requires you to share something — a frustration or opinion — with another person that they might not want to hear, but disagreements are part of all relationships. It is better to be completely truthful with everything you do and say than to have someone doubt your word. A relationship that strongly values honesty is more likely to encourage openness, which leads to a deeper, long-term connection.
Respect and accept opposing views
It’s not uncommon for people in relationships to run into issues upon which they don’t agree. In these situations, each party should not always try to change their partner’s opinions, rather they should respect one another’s views, find a compromise, or, sometimes, even agree to disagree. Accepting differences of opinion will lead to fewer arguments. Seeking to understand another’s point of view, as opposed to arguing against it, strengthens the core of your relationship.
Dealing with conflict
Every relationship experiences turmoil — problems arise and arguments happen. It’s during these times that we truly demonstrate our strength. Talk through disagreements and use kind words. Apologize when an apology is due. These practices will have a significant impact on the ability of any relationship to withstand tough times.
Love is the key to a happy and fulfilling life, and we should celebrate it. While there is no better time to do this than Valentine’s Day, we all can work to make sure that we focus on the valuable relationships we have with friends, family and other loved ones throughout the year. The happiness and well-being we receive from these relationships can span a lifetime.
Brianna Fritsch, LCSW, is a therapist at Centerstone, a behavioral healthcare services provider in Southern Illinois and the Metro East.