A Strong Relationship is Marked By Its Healthy Habits
After reading Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I began to wonder what results we would find if we applied his “inside-out” approach to effectiveness to love and relationships? The book is centered on the principles of self-help and business, but let’s investigate how these same seven habits can relate to relationships.
Habit #1: Be proactive.
The first habit of highly effective people is the proactive approach they take in life. Proactive people understand that change requires self-awareness and you cannot wait on anyone else to alter the state of your life. Additionally, proactive people take ownership of their emotions. Instead of being ruled by outside forces, they view challenging circumstances as an opportunity to build character. Proactive people take charge of every element of their lives.
When it comes to relationships, we have to undo the thinking that convinces us that our emotions and actions are out of our control. The emotional peace we receive from our relationships is 100% within our control. Instead of moving through time wrapped up in a relationship that is not satisfying, be proactive. You have two choices: to either make the decision to make your relationship work and begin improving on the ways in which you behave within that relationship, or to remove yourself from the relationship if it does not serve you in the capacity that you believe it should. Proactiveness is centered on taking control of your life! Act now!
Habit #2: Begin with the end in mind.
This principle forces the reader to think about the end goal and to ensure that every single day is spent moving towards that goal. One way to do this, according to Stephen, is to draft a personal mission statement. Does your relationship have a written mission statement? This is a written commitment to one another that outlines the principles that you hope to build your relationship on. To some, this may sound corny, but the reality is ALL businesses have a mission statement that governs their actions and behaviors.
There is an abundance of power that lies in unity. If you and your partner come together to highlight the goals, achievements, and characteristics you want your relationship to reflect, you will collectively agree to act only in a manner that is aligned with this mission.
Habit #3: Put first things first.
The third habit is all about self management. In his book, Covey challenges readers to think about the one thing they could do that they’re not doing now that if done regularly, would make a tremendous difference in their business or personal life.
To master this principle, you must understand that there is a difference between what is urgent and what is important. Where do your priorities lie? How will your relationship be affected by addressing this particular issue? There are some things that may need your attention immediately, but it’s important that you manage your relationship at all times.
Habit #4: Seek to understand, then to be understood.
One main issue in relationships is communication between spouses. We have lost the art of effectively delivering and receiving a message. Highly effective people have mastered emphathetic listening. Instead of listening and preparing a rebuttal, they listen to understand.
If you are currently experiencing a communications crisis in your relationship, you should evaluate how effective you are at listening to your significant other. The key to empathetic listening is to pay attention to what your significant other is attempting to get you to understand. Empathy is not based on agreement, it is about having respect for how your partner feels emotionally.
Habit #5: Think “win/win.”
Like our bank accounts, the more money we deposit, the more we have to withdraw. This habit suggests that effective people have a tendency to make deposits into the emotional accounts of others. They have the attitude that someone else doesn’t have to lose for you to win. That’s their mentality.
This habit, when applied to your love life, can bring about a shift in your relationship immediately. Imagine a partnership where both people want the other to win in life. In order to ensure that your partner is equipped with what they need to go out into the world and be successful, you make it your personal business to make deposits into that person’s emotional account daily. This is done in the form of kindness, compliments, appreciation, being true to your promises, encouragement, and all around support for their aspirations and hopes. This practice benefits both partners. The more you put into the emotional bank of your significant other, the more you have to withdraw when you need it.
Habit #6: Synergize.
The basic premise of synergy suggests that while two people can have opposing viewpoints, both people’s perspectives can be right. The merger of two uniquely creative and skilled people can bring about a dynamic and powerful collaboration. In your relationship, it is going to be essential for both parties to develop a deep understanding. You will not always see things the same way and that’s OK.
Instead of imposing your viewpoint on them, allow your partner to flow in their own creativity and to rationalize situations based on their own understanding. This causes less tension and creates a healthy environment where two people can build something greater together than they can alone.
Habit #6: Sharpen the saw.
The seventh habit suggests that effective individuals take time out to sharpen themselves so that they can go forth and accomplish the things they need to. You are the saw. Looking at this from a physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual perspective, are you taking time to sharpen your relationship? If this is not already a habit, you need to apply it immediately.
Looking at these four aspects, here are some activities you can do to sharpen your relationship:
Physical: Be more affectionate. Schedule date nights, make love more, hold hands, hug and kiss often.
Mental: Plan out your goals together. Draft your mission statement, be in tune with one another’s day to day mental state, and provide comfort as needed.
Social/Emotional: Be an empathetic listener. Synergize and build a foundation of trust while renewing your commitment to your relationship often.
Spiritual: Meditation and prayer are essential. Practice faith rituals together, talk often, and be studious as a family.
No different than the habits of highly effective people as it pertains to business, if you are striving to build a relationship that can withstand the inevitable barriers of life, you may need to alter your behavior to align with this goal. Thanks to Stephen Covey for outlining these highly effective steps. This is my way of sharpening your saws!
I pray you all seek and find everything you need or plus. Move in love. Until we meet again lovers and friends. Be well. Be prosperous. Be passionate.