Ace the relationship test
Making a relationship work is a challenge and a chance to grow. Sabita Prasad tells you all you need to know about getting that relationship going.
“Ialways dreamt that my daughter-in-law would be the daughter we never had and wanted to given her the best in me. I just do not understand why she behaves rudely with me”, bemoans a mother-in-law.”
“My son meant the world to me, what went wrong? Why is he so aloof?” asks a father.
“During our courting days, my husband never missed a chance to bring me roses and chocolates.
Two years after marriage he does not even remember my birthday. Is this the same man?” asks a confused wife.
‘A man is just about as happy as he makes up his mind to be’, said Abraham Lincoln.
Thinking about it, what is it that makes a man happy? We all know that money, status or professional satisfaction by themselves are not enough.
Man is a social animal and he needs to interact, communicate, give and take, to love and be loved, and be able to share his innermost joys, despairs and apprehensions.
No amount of money earned can replicate the feeling of warmth, trust and well being that come from rock solid relationships.
How does one foster and nurture healthy relationships? Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with a user manual when we are born, guiding us on how to build healthy relationships.
However, recognising its importance, and working on it, makes living more meaningful and happier. Ask Bala mami, a 70-year-old who is always brimming with life, what her secret is, and she says, “I love to connect with people, both young and old. And for that a smile and genuine warmth are all that are needed”!
Yet, there are so many relationships that turn sour, and this invariably happens with the people who we closely interact with — colleagues / boss / friends / family.
These interactions often throw people onto roller coaster rides of trauma and turmoil, remorse and regret. If one doesn’t stop to think of what can be done to change these situations, they continue to happen with cyclical repetitions,and invariably the blame is placed on the other.
Sheila wasn’t happy at work and she blamed her boss and colleagues for it. It took her a long time to understand that her domineering behaviour was causing the havoc. Changing her own behaviour patterns was what was really needed.
Dr Suman, Additional Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, NIMHANS says, “Developing interpersonal sensitivity, by scaling down expectations to realistic levels, taking accountability for problems and not indulging in blame games, are key factors to keep in mind.”
It is extremely easy to get caught in the blame game. Rarely do we stop and ask, “How can I change to make this work?” When we do and start making changes in the self, then surprisingly, the ‘other’ starts relating in a better manner.
As Edward Wallis Hoch puts it, “There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us!”Making a relationship work is a challenge and a chance to grow. When we take responsibility and ask ourselves what it is that I can do to make this work; then the challenge facing us becomes a catalyst for cathartic change.
What about looking into the three A’s to make relationships work? The three A’s are Acknowledgement, Adjustments, and Acceptance.
The first ‘A’ involves acknowledging that a particular relationship is not working right. Very often we fail to acknowledge this and keep putting it away, for we want to believe that things will ‘somehow’ set right the next time round, and in the process, refuse to do anything about it.
Ragini who was in an abusive relationship, kept hoping that her partner would start behaving better. “Things will be alright”, she would often say, till it became so bad that she was completely bruised, both physically and mentally.
Refusing to acknowledge souring relationships is being in ‘denial’, and this could be the trigger for losing out on one’s health and well being.
The second ‘A’ — Adjustment — is to make slight changes in life that will go a long way to make relationships work better.
These can be in the form of saying an emphatic no to abuse, or by giving a little more respect to the other, giving space, being assertive or just developing the ability to listen and to keep channels open for honest communication.
Being assertive for many seems to be a challenge. It is not being chained to either submission or aggression. It is the ability to say in no uncertain terms that enough is enough, when it comes to unacceptable behaviours.
Dr Ali Khwaja, renowned counselor gives a tip, “It helps to stop judging others and forming opinions. Be open and neutral, when someone ignores you or is curt; don’t take it as a personal insult. It may be something to do with a problem that the other has!’
The third ‘A’ is Acceptance.
If the relationship still does not work even after acknowledging and making necessary adjustments, then acceptance is the key. Accept that this is the way the relationship is going to be and make the choice to either stay in the relationship or quit.
Acceptance does not mean sitting down in diffidence or giving the remote control of one’s life to the other, or doing whatever the other demands. It means taking charge of oneself, continuing to thrive in spite of the other, and shift from a victim stand to that of being in command and control.
We move through different stages of our professional life, from being a fresher to a team player to a manager, or in our personal lives from being a child to an adult to a parent. Each stage is all encompassing, and calls for the three ‘A’s’ to be applied appropriately.