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How to Have Truly Happy Relationships

How to Have Truly Happy Relationships

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Published by rrrosh
This short article explores communication and relationships, and the three A's that will lead to a happier and healthier relationship - acknowledgement, appreciation and acceptance.
This short article explores communication and relationships, and the three A's that will lead to a happier and healthier relationship - acknowledgement, appreciation and acceptance.

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Published by: rrrosh on Apr 09, 2010
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10/24/2012

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How to Have Truly Happy Relationships, or, The A’s(Acknowledgement, Appreciation & Acceptance)
 To make an analogy, let’s say that each partner has 10 self-esteem ‘dollars’ intheir ‘bank’ to begin with. Some of these may have been lost or gained throughtheir life experiences and the ways they’ve interpreted them until the presentmoment, but nevertheless, as two stand-alone people, they’ve got about 10dollars to begin with.Practising the three A’s simply facilitates keeping their ‘self esteem banks’topped up. Unless they are at a reasonable and stable level, the person will feelunable to truly be themselves in the relationship (so will fall into traps such aslosing themselves in the relationship, rescuing or trying to be what the otherperson wants them to be subconsciously, taking the other for granted, etc).
1. Acknowledgement -
validating worth, showing respect 
 Acknowledgement: being able and willing to agree that your partner is havingthe experience that they say they are having.
A lot of the time in relationships, one or both partners don’t feel ‘heard’ by theother. The couple might talk lots, about lots of things, but as individuals theymight not feel that their thoughts, feelings and emotions are validated by theother person. This affects their sense of worth in the relationship, and worth as aperson.Often when one partner starts to express something, the other partner has oneof two responses, which have been conditioned into many of us in our childhood:a) to try and ‘fix’ the problem, rather than just listenb) to try and defend against what they’ve said as though it were a blamestatement.Often, they don’t mean either of these, there are no subversive manipulatoryintentions, they just want to talk, to foster emotional intimacy. And the result of the two points above? Feeling misunderstood, feeling a lack of sense of connection, feeling alone, like it’s easier to shut out rather than open up to theother person.Giving acknowledgement often means practising Active Listening. Which meansthat when you are in a conversation, particularly an important one, you don’tspend the whole time planning rebuttals or trying to convince the other personthat you’re right. Not at all – in doing this, you don’t really listen to what theother person is saying, but rather you subconsciously put your perspectives oneverything you hear.Active listening means actually consciously listening to what the other person issaying, and accepting that their experience of reality is different to yours(everyone is an individual, and so everyone experiences things differently – weall see the world through different mental and emotional lenses). Active listeningmeans allowing yourself to accept that there isn’t one true reality, and that yourthoughts, feelings, emotions and views have just as much credence and worth asthose of the people around you. They have worth too, no more or less than youor any other being.
 
An example of showing acknowledgement could be like:a)” It sounds like (or It seems) you... [paraphrase in a sentence or twowhat your partner’s experience seems to be]b) That must feel... [Guess as to how such an experience must feel]c) I’m sorry you feel [guess as to what they’re feeling]”And so, by acknowledging your partner, by actually truly and genuinely listeningto them, you allow the relationship to form strong bonds, a solid foundation, andto actually deal with problems as they arise.Instead of each conversation being tiring and taking self esteem dollars out of both partner’s bank accounts, it allows for conversations to air thoughts, feelingsand views to be swept up from under the carpet and aired, eliminating seedswhich could one day fester. And when the two of you feel truly heard, it’spossible to reach win-win situations of genuine negotiation and compromiseswhere needed, such that everyone involved feels that their needs are beingtaken into account and that solutions are made, not the seeds of furtherproblems or the brushing of more things under the carpet.
2. Appreciation –
truly caring and valuing
 Appreciation: Telling your partner what you like about him or her.
Many couples do appreciate each other, but the problem lies in it not beingfrequent enough. Just as it’s not effective to do an hour of exercise once a monthto increase your cardiovascular fitness, it’s not effective to only say somethingnice about your partner once in a blue moon. The more frequently you do it, themore you build up your partner’s self-esteem bank, and this strengthens thefoundations of intimacy and affection in the relationship.Expressing true appreciation unconditionally, without an ulterior motive orexpecting appreciation in return, can be a very powerful tool. It can help yourpartner let go of blaming you, and to stop being defensive.It can be helpful to express appreciation that is specific, precise and graphic. Forexample, instead of saying:‘I like that you’re such a nice person’, saying:‘i really enjoyed that you helped that lady with a pram down those stairs at thetrain station, i think you’re a kind and caring person and wanted you to knowhow much i appreciate the little things you do for me too, like making me a cupof tea this morning when i woke up. Things like that really warm my heart.’Can be more clear and convey what you mean more successfully.
3. Acceptance –
unconditional Love
 Acceptance: Loving your partner just as they are, warts and all.
 This usually occurs after the first two A’s have manifested, and rightly so -- ittakes time to develop genuinely unconditional acceptance. WhileAcknowledgement and Appreciation are both things you can ‘do’, acceptance is afundamental shift in attitude.

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