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It’s been close to 3 years since I separated and later on, divorced from my husband. We were only officially married for 1 year and half but unofficially together for 7 years. He was my best friend. I looked up to him and secretly felt I could not keep up to his ability to be successful. Three years ago, l lost sight of everything meaningful in my life, and spiraled into self- sabotage and rebellion. When we broke up, I took it upon myself to change as a person, because I thought that was partly the reason my marriage had deteriorated. What I came to realize is it was the marriage with myself that I never allowed to heal properly. Before we can love someone wholeheartedly, we need to love and accept ourselves first. Year one taught me survival through various avenues of meditations, traveling, one-on-one coaching, researching topics of interest (self-help), and continuous self-introspective writing. Year two opened the doors towards discovering who I am, my true self and layers of my mind that contributed to my years of “unconscious” living (along with the help of therapy.) Year three helped me accept that I am already in the place I need to be and learning to accept myself as I am as well as being more compassionate with myself. It is also more of a “free” year, where I am living day by day and just being with myself not doing anything in particular as previous years – I am actively watching myself “just being me.” (As weird as that sounds!) I am very clear about the mistakes I made back then. Marriage is when two imperfect souls can accept each other just as they are and grow as persons and as a unit simultaneously. Marriage is compromise, love, empathy, understanding, strength, vulnerability and maturity amongst the obstacles and difficulties thrown at us by the universe. Divorce is just another new beginning to look at yourself and reflect on what went wrong. It’s an opportunity to learn about yourself and to appreciate your previous partner as another teacher in your life (once you move past the anger phase, because you do experience it – and it’s totally normal!) I learned more about me, then I did after any other difficult time period of my life. It was hard for me in the first few months, as I am a sensitive individual. Time went so slow, my loved ones spent hours calling me, inviting me over for dinner, and sharing countless words of wisdom. I felt I was experiencing an outer body experience. Surprisingly, work became more interesting because I drowned myself to avoid feeling pain. I often woke up earlier and fell asleep earlier than usual. I started experiencing anxiety attacks and I started praying frequently again. This only reaffirmed my desire to create change for myself. I am eternally grateful for the spiritual coach who guided me during this time and opened up doorways for my self-improvement (my healing). Here are my tips to work on healing from your heartache while improving yourself and loving yourself: 1. Don’t lock yourself up indoors. When we feel down, we feel lifeless, we are walking zombies and we do not want to get out of bed. My godfather told me, “When you feel sad: get up, grab your purse, open the door, and hear it slam. Then, come straight over to our house. No matter how many times. Get up and get out.” You have no idea, how much I have listened to this. Once you are out, you won’t suddenly feel thrilled but after 2hours of engaging with others, laughing or in-depth conversations of moral support, you will feel better. 2. Set intentions and be compassionate with yourself. If you have no other options, because we tend to close up, then set an intention to be compassionate with yourself. For example, I have very few intimate friends, so I did often stay at home, in bed with the lights off. But, I knew I couldn’t stay there forever. I set a realistic intention to give myself a minimum of 3 days at home. Day 3 came and I would get up to go out or do an activity such as writing, visiting loved ones, going for a walk or seeing a movie. 3. Allow yourself to feel. Do not avoid it. If you need to talk to someone (you trust) for hours to get things off your chest, do so. We are creatures of service; another person will listen to you and help you feel relaxed. If you don’t have someone, I recommend writing down every thought going through your mind. If you suddenly feel the need to cry or laugh, don’t hold it back. Feel it, watch it, and release it – whatever feeling it is, will go away on its own. Don’t avoid thinking or feeling by working overtime or going out every chance you get as an escape. In the long run, this will bring more harm because pain gets buried and will resurface when a new relationship or situation comes around. 4. Get help from a professional outsider: a coach or therapist. I met a wonderful life coach through a mutual friend. She guided me in every session, hearing me out, giving exercises, written homework assignments and insight. Sometimes we need another’s eye and expertise to comprehend what we are going through and provide you tools to move forward. There were so many topics and tools I would have never thought of without her. She opened my mind to study myself and be understanding that this new life experience would allow me to reach my goals of healing, true love and self-acceptance. 5. Take a seminar or a class. When you find yourself as a student again engaging in adding skills to yourself professionally and/or as a hobby – you are left with an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, giddiness and success. It will make you feel so much better and you will begin to notice you forget about your sadness because you are doing something loving such as an exercise dance class, meet up group, meditation or yoga seminar. 6. Don’t do rebound relationships. I have done these in the past, though I didn’t do it after my divorce from my last partner. I have found that you are still in a tender phase and you need to work on those feelings of hurt, discomfort and loss. Sometimes, we think we are ready and what we really need is to meet new people and be friends first. If the right partner comes along, you will know it. Don’t rush, take your time. 7. Don’t stay in contact with your ex/exes. My last ex found it annoying I stayed friends with previous exes. He use to say, “Exes can’t be friends.” I use to debate this all the time. I found it brought me more harm than good, even affecting my marriage. Growing up as an only child with little or no family, we tend to make our friends our family. I couldn’t let go of certain relationships because I was scared to be alone. In past relationships, I had keep my exes as friends but by doing so I only kept it as “yellow” light just in case the flame would revive. In order to move on, we need to keep a distance. Otherwise, we are prolonging pain or in some cases, engaging in relationships with no ties – where there is always one person that gets attached and gets hurt. No matter how much we love or loved that person, we need to let go and accept the one relationship worth keeping is the one with ourselves. 8. Do pray or meditate. Religion and spirituality continue to be the most contributing part of this healing and self-transformation equation. If you belong to a particular religion, prayer is universal – give it to God. If you are not part of any religion, being spiritual is another tool. Spirituality isn’t all about a religion. It is also about belief in yourself, your inner center, the universe and the stars. I went to free meditation seminars on Sundays during year one and even pulled up some good mediattions and mantras from YouTube. Meditation frees you to – give it to the universe. For me, giving myself to God and the universe through prayer and meditation allowed me to feel peace again, especially in those sad or anxious moments during and after my divorce.
These days, it can seem like there are happy couples everywhere you look: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, even walking down the street. But if there's one thing the social media era has taught me, it's that everything is not always as it seems. There is no magic potion or lottery ticket to cash in for this elusive "happily ever after" relationship. A solid couple is composed of two people who are willing to put in the work, and healthy, lasting relationships are not built in a day. You have to start with a strong foundation individually, and then build the walls up together from there. Here are 14 habits of truly happy couples: 1. Independence It is important to spend quality time together and have a strong friendship, but healthy couples understand that they cannot expect each other to fill every bucket. People in these couples have passions and desires that they explore individually. 2. Communication Men and women communicate differently—our brains process thoughts differently and have different capacities for retaining certain information. The most crucial habit healthy couples form is the ability to communicatein a way that the other person understands and responds to positively. 3. Support These couples believe in each other. Healthy couples understand that in order to be supported, they must give support. They understand the value in the choice they each made to be in this relationship and they aim to help each other every day. 4. Respect People in healthy relationships understand that they will never completely agree with their partners, and that is OK. These couples motivate, inspire, lift each other up, and have the utmost respect for each other. 5. Consideration Everyone has feelings, and although they may not always be the same, they all have the right to be heard. Healthy couples seek to understand and learn the ins and outs of each other. While they may not share the same passions or needs, they recognize and appreciate their differences. 6. Optimism These couples see the glass half full. They believe in a world where the best is yet to come, and they make strides every day to be a part of it. Healthy couples know that they hold the power to control situations instead of letting situations control them. 7. Passion Healthy couples radiate passion. They are passionate about life, love, and happiness. These couples appreciate the value of every moment and they have mastered the art of being present. 8. Friendship People in happy relationships enjoy each other's company no matter the circumstance. They can spend the night in with takeout and a movie, head to the pub with some friends to watch the football game, or dance the night away at a black tie event. 9. Trust Trust is earned, not given, and healthy couples understand that in order to have a solid foundation there has to be trust. They believe that choosing to be in a relationship means choosing to trust each other, and until someoneproves untrustworthy there is no reason to waste time on suspicion. 10. Partnership Relationships are about two people coming together to form a team that increases the value of each person's life. Healthy couples believe in each other's strengths and complement each other's weaknesses. They utilize both to support each other and form a powerhouse duo. 11. Loyalty These couples understand the importance of having healthy relationships with the other people in their lives as well: family, friends, co-workers, etc. However, at the end of the day, they always put each other first. There is no question of where their devotion lies, and others respect them for that. 12. Compromise People in happy couples learn how to meet in the middle to do something they don't feel like doing, just because it makes their partner happy. 13. Gratitude Healthy couples have a genuine, sincere appreciation for each other. Not just for who they are in the relationship but for everything that makes them up as individuals. They take the time to say, "thank you," and remind each other how grateful they are to have the other in their lives. 14. Happiness Both individuals in a healthy relationship wake up in the morning andchoose happiness. They each find validation, worth, and security within themselves. They see their partner as an enormous addition to their happiness but not the sole source of it. By Sarah Rusca/MBG
Relationships can be difficult. Focusing on external qualifiers makes it even harder. But successful relationships require something much deeper than shared interests or physical attraction. Maintaining a healthy, happy relationship requires you to make daily choices that leave your ego behind and to act in the best interest of your relationship rather than just yourself. Here are what I consider the 15 essential qualities of a lasting relationship: 1. Acceptance Any partner will have qualities, characteristics, and behaviors that push your buttons and test your sanity. To make your relationship last, you have to accept your partner unconditionally—quirks, behavior, flaws, and all. First, you make the commitment to accepting them completely. Then, you speak up and say what it is that’s bothering you. 2. Respect Once the chase is over and we've gotten the prize, we often just forget about our partner's feelings and needs. In lasting relationships, both partners value each other and take care with their words, actions, and behaviors. If you want to be with that person each day, make them feel that way. 3. Vulnerability If you’re not willing to share what’s going on with you or what you need from your partner, you’re not going to get what you need. Yet, us men, and women, too—out of shame or a habit built over a lifetime of bottling up our feelings—don’t want to let anyone else in on what’s going on with us. If you can trust your partner enough to share your feelings, you’re more likely to find yourself in a safe relationship that lasts. 4. Trust You have to be willing to trust your partner not only with your feelings but with your weaknesses. You will have to learn trust at the emotional, physical, and spiritual level. Trust takes practice and is earned one step at a time. Even when trust is broken, you can find a way to repair a breach in trust if you’re willing to work on it. 5. Honesty You have to be willing to share what’s going on, no matter how ugly. You can’t hide behind lies and deception if you want your relationship to last. If you can’t believe your partner when they tell you something, or if your partner is hiding things from you, it’s going to be hard for you to feel safe. Honesty helps foster trust and a belief in each other, which is crucial to making it over the long haul. 6. Empathy Empathy means trying to understand what your partner is feeling. It isn’t about trying to fix your partner’s concerns and problems, necessarily, but about being able to be there for them. If you can pay more attention to what’s going on with your partner and strive to see things from their eyes, you will find yourself getting closer over time rather than more distant. 7. Kindness Do all the things for your partner that you would do for your best friend. Try to anticipate their needs. Think about what they need help with and try to be there for them. Cut out the behavior that gets on their nerves and find ways to uplift your partner. Thoughtfulness, consideration, and kindness is the recipe for lasting relationships. 8. Commitment You have to be committed to your partner, yes. But more than commitment to your partner, you have to be committed to the relationship. If you think about the health and future of the relationship instead of just your own, you’re likely to take more constructive actions and behave differently. It’s not just about getting your needs met. It's about replenishing the fire so your relationship can last. 9. Thoughtfulness Thoughtfulness is keeping your partner in mind and striving to do things that will make their lives better. It’s knowing their preferences, opinions, and quirks so you’re able to dance with them, not fight them with. The better you know your partner, the more you can practice thoughtfulness. What can you do today to help them or improve their lives? What can you do today to make your partner’s day? 10. Forgiveness You will be offended and feel hurt many times throughout a relationship. The key is to forgive quickly, let go of grudges, and start over each day. Yes, this is easier said than done, but forgiveness is crucial to the long-term health of the relationship. You have to let go of trespasses and also be willing to ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness takes courage, vulnerability, and practice. 11. Compromise It may sound clichéd, but giving up on firm positions, unbendable views of the world, and what you each want to do independently of the other person is another important step to lasting love. Our egos usually hold us hostage and we can’t get out of the “win-lose” mentality. Compromise is letting go of what’s important to you individually in order to do what is important to the health of the relationship. It’s finding common ground. 12. Gentleness Gentleness comes through in thoughts, words, actions, and your general state of being. It’s understanding and accepting your partner completely and treating them delicately. It’s not yelling, not being verbally or emotionally abusive, or name-calling. Gentleness is treating your partner in a respectful, kind, and compassionate way. It’s recognizing your soulful connection and appreciating their inherent humanness. 13. Affection After some time in relationships, we often forget to show love and affection toward our partners. Affection can be as simple as touching, holding, or kissing your partner for no reason at all. It’s a warm embrace, a light touch, a loving word, or any other small way you can show your partner that you love them. To be most affectionate, you have to know how your partner receives love best and do more of that. Is it a loving word, a thoughtful gesture, help around the house, or doing something special for them? The better you know what your partner enjoys, the more affectionate you can be. ThisLove Languages quiz can help you figure out how you and your partner can most effectively show your love to each other. 14. Appreciation We all take our partners for granted sometimes. If you can regularly remind yourself how lucky you are and how valuable your partner is, and tell them so, you will boost the happiness and longevity of your relationship. Partners who stay together appreciate each other and compliment each other. Recognize what your partner is doing and let them know that you’re thankful for it. 15. Validation Most of the time, people don’t really understand us. Everyone has different opinions. Validating your partner shows them that you’re on their side. When you understand and accept what they say, they feel fully seen, heard, and accepted. It’s acknowledging what your partner is saying to you and showing them that you get them—you understand what they’re saying and experiencing. When you validate, you accept. And when you accept, you show unconditional love, which is ultimately what keeps people and relationships together in the long run. By Vishnu Subramaniam/MBG