Love Gardening: Your Guide To A Healthy Relationship
Episode 19 is here!
Love is like a garden, as many lovers have said. If love were a garden, do you have what it takes to get the most out of it? Both lovers and gardeners agree, that the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. In this lovely episode, The EmPOWERment Couple harvests spiritual and scientific evidence, how being in a loving relationship significantly improves your health, lengthens your life, and paves the way to achieving bliss.
In this episode we are going to unearth:
- A definition of a healthy relationship
- How relationships function as a vehicle for self-improvement and spiritual advancement
- Identify patterns of conflict within a relationship
- Discuss the importance of parent and child relationships
- Assess what each partner is bringing into the relationship (positive and negative)
- Create new habits to get the most out your relationship
- A guide to creating and sustain healthy relationships
Sweet and juicy relationships are now in season, so grab your loved one and curl up somewhere comfortable because The EmPOWERment Couple is about to serve you a cornucopia of love.
Relationships of all types are being tested right now. As we evolve it’s natural to grow closer or outgrow our relationships. We are in a time of a great awakening and the power of love plays a major role in this process. In many cases, the pain and suffering we may experience in a relationship may be due more to the resistance we have created against changing, and less on what our partner is doing. What we have come to determine in this work, is that all relationship troubles start when we resist doing the internal work we all must do. In an effort to empower you to create your most beautiful life, this episode is going to be about how to create and sustain a healthy relationship.
First things, first, you need to get into romantic relationships with people you are compatible with. It’s likely you won’t find a clone of yourself so you’ll need to know how to navigate around different likes, dreams, dislikes, desires and identify when it’s time to let a relationship season come to an end.
“Summer and Winter were not supposed to fall in love.” ― Julie Kagawa
We realized early on that we met someone that had enough similar likes, dreams, and desires that made us compatible. We also had enough of own our interest to keep us from becoming codependent. The goal is to find someone that likes a lot of the same things and that will support you in your own likes.
This isn’t possible when it comes to family so you’ll need to get well-versed on how to create a healthy working relationship with all of the people in your life.
Definition Of A Healthy Working Relationship:
Let’s start with the definition of a healthy relationship. We combed through over 20 different definitions of a healthy relationship from websites focusing on maintaining a happy marriage, and dating sites, to various dictionary definitions, and what we found is that there are a few traits common amongst them.
- Love was at the top of the list. The variations of love included self-love, and loving your partner for who they are rather than for what they could be with a little manipulation or “fixing.” This would be loving your partner unconditionally for who the person currently is not who you want them to be in the future.
- Trust was also a common factor. Trust involves being faithful, as well as trusting that your partner will operate with the relationship being equally, if not more important than any other relationship, such as a relationship with work and addictions.
- Support made the list knowing that everyone will endure good and bad times. Everyone goes through emotional, physical, and spiritual changes and a healthy relationship will allow each partner the time and support that they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it.
- Communication is a must, however, the communication needs to be constant, detailed to meet each partner’s needs, and a source of joy rather than a chore.
- Fun popped up in the majority of the definitions due to the fact that without fun, you just have work. Having fun together acts as an adhesive, binding two people together in shared experiences of adventure, excitement, and joy.
- Intimacy, like love, made it into every definition. We would go on to say that intimacy is a combination of trust, support, communication, and fun that when combined with love, is what the EmPowerment Couple would call, chemistry.
- Chemistry made it to a few of the various definitions that we came across and it varied from sexual chemistry to chemistry by design, meaning that cosmically, they were designed to be together.
- Forgiveness If you haven’t yet learned the power of forgiveness you need to listen to our episode Forgiveness = Freedom.
Set A Healthy Relationship Standard:
In relationships, it’s important to set standards or what is commonly referred to as boundaries. These standards need to be identified and set by you and the person you’re in a relationship with.
Here Are Some Healthy Standards That We’ve Identified In Our Relationship:
- No yelling
- No physical abuse
- No addictive behavior or substance abuse
- No going to sleep angry
- No gossiping or breaking trust
- No suffering (cause suffering is for suckers)
- No “I’m fine” when you’re anything but fine- This is deceit and denial and manipulation because holding “fine fire” in your throat is a recipe for dis-ease. Breathe and speak. If you cannot speak. Breathe, get into your heart, and write.
To identify and establish healthy standards for harmony in a relationship we have a free guide called:
“Love Gardening: Healthy Relationship Guide”
An example of a healthy relationship standard is to take accountability for what you bring to the table. This offering comes from our healthy habits course. Because success without love is not fulfilling and success without fulfillment is never the goal. True health is wealth and true wealth comes from every area of your life being healthy and satisfied. But, it starts with YOU.
Types Of Relationships That Aid In Spiritual Advancement:
So, in the discussion of a healthy and happy relationship, let’s begin with how a healthy and happy relationship can advance your spiritual development.
Spirituality is essentially the relationship that you have with yourself. We may not all follow the same GOD, so a discussion on religion would not be all-inclusive. However, we all have a mind, a body, and a soul and it is through spiritual practices, that we have the ability to grow into heightened states of awareness in how the mind, body, and soul are connected, and where they can take us.
If You Take Care Of Yourself, Your Partner Won’t Have To:
Our experience with a relationship coach several years ago helped us uncover one of the healthy standards we discuss in the free guide this week and that is, sometimes we want to control our partner and make their standards the same as ours.
For example, Mike’s request to the relationship expert was, “how do I get Zuri to take better care of herself?” Mike was rightfully frustrated in my bad habits of a 12-hour workday with zero self-care. He was also worried about me relapsing in a health scare I had three years prior. It was then that Mike realized that he couldn’t change my bad habits but instead had to set standards for himself and for how we showed up in the relationship. These standards we co-created helped us form healthy habits and a lifestyle company. This coach, like many, suggested we each create our own daily habits and then come together in the relationship as our best self. This is when we both identified our daily musts- our standards for a healthy day. We then shared these with one another and gave the other person permission to check in on how we were doing with them. If one of us slips up or falls off track we don’t beat our partner up over it. We simply help them by loving them unconditionally through the work. It’s daily work, not a little here and there but daily musts, not maybes that help us enjoy each other.
Types Of Relationships:
Most can agree to break down relationships into four categories Family relationships, Friendships, Acquaintanceships/work colleagues/staff, and Romantic relationships. Of the types of relationships out there, I feel that the most prominent ones are those that shape us the most. The relationships we have with our parents and siblings are high on the list. Our spouse and our children are also high on the list. The relationships we consider to be our close friends and/or best friends are also high on the list. But the top of this list must always be the relationship you have with yourself. If it falls from its pedestal, any relationship that we place before ourselves is destined for difficulty.
Although we have all heard of the hermit who shuts himself off from the rest of the world in order to attain self-actualization, he or she would be better spent taking with them their spouse!
On the bottom of the list would be the dysfunctional relationship. Dysfunctional relationships do actually serve a purpose and that is GROWTH. This needs its own spotlight but well get to that in a bit.
5 Science-Related Health Studies About Relationships:
If you are suffering from unhealthy relationships with yourself or others you may need some inspiration to do the work to heal. Science has found that healthy relationships are good for your health. This may go without saying because it seems obvious but we found five science-backed health studies that will empower you to get into healthy relationships.
1. Healthy Relationships Help You Live Longer:
“One study, which examined data from more than 309,000 people, found that lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50% — an effect on mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.” So, if you want that fountain of youth, you better be in a healthy relationship. Scientific studies we shared from our Telomere Tell All Episode, point to healthy habits increasing longevity.
The times I’ve felt old and looked bad have been when my self-relationship or relationship with a loved one was suffering. It’s important to note that the relationship and mortality study looked at social relationships with those that were inside and outside of the home. The findings are that strong social relationships increase the likelihood of survival by 50 percent regardless of age, sex, or health status, according to a meta-analysis of 148 studies on mortality risk. At the same time, difficult personalities and relationship troubles go hand-in-hand in ways that are likely to affect heart health.
2. Healthy Relationships Ward Off Dementia:
A study was found that individuals in the older age group who reported having maintained “positive, warm and trusting” friendships were more likely to have brains that worked as well as those of people 30 years younger – suggesting that maintaining a solid social circle could be key to slowing the cognitive effects of aging.
3. Healthy Relationships Support Positive Mental Health And Bolster Our Immune System:
“Studies show that people who engage in supportive, positive relationships produce more oxytocin and seem less likely to succumb to the negative effects of stress, anxiety, and depression.”
4. Healthy Relationships Help Gut Function:
Scientists have found that healthy relationships help relieve harmful levels of stress, which can adversely affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system. Recent primate studies indicate that the gut microbiome may also be a biological mechanism linking relationships to health. Since studies of the microbiome are relatively new there needs to be more long-term research done on healthy and unhealthy relationships. This is important since the majority of your immune system is in your gut.
5. Healthy Relationships Are Better For Recovery:
Healthy relationships are better for your heart as we discussed, but some research suggests that married people who have undergone heart surgery are three times more likely to survive the first three months after surgery than single patients.
Parents And Child Relationships:
If there are parents listening or those that grew up in an unhealthy setting. Research indicates that it’s important to repair those relationships and break unhealthy cycles as a parent. When children experience comforting, emotionally significant relationships with parents or other close family members, they tend to have better health profiles—not only during childhood but into adolescence and adulthood. In one longitudinal study, Linda G. Russek, Ph.D., showed that college students who had more caring parents had a lower risk of heart disease, ulcers, and other chronic conditions 35 years later.
We’ve recognized this in our own child and the children of our friends and family. Your relationship with yourself and your co-parent will directly determine how your child relates to themselves and others in relationships. So, set good models for those developing minds.
The Power Of Positive Relationships From A Spiritual Perspective:
This is a great quote from Paramahansa Yogananda: “Success in marriage is very difficult if partners expect too much from their spouses. When each demands fulfillment from the other and that demand is not met, they become enemies. That is why I believe that a lasting and fulfilling marriage is in most cases impossible without spirituality—without a mutual effort to seek satisfaction of the soul’s yearning for perfect love and the joy of fulfillment where alone it can be found: God-communion.”
Relationships And Defense Mechanisms:
I want to talk about how relationships act as a mirror. Have you ever heard of someone say that they are “projecting,” during a heated argument? Well, according to Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, Psychological projection is, “A defense mechanism that the subconscious employs in order to cope with difficult feelings or emotions. Psychological projection involves projecting undesirable feelings or emotions onto someone else, rather than admitting to or dealing with unwanted feelings.” I know that I have been guilty of projecting insecurities that I incurred as a child onto various relationships in the past. As a child, I often felt as if I were the last one on the list, therefore, I would project my insecurities onto those whom I shared an intimate relationship with and make them pay for something that they didn’t do.
I am an adult who has the ability to forgive and forge a new reality. However, I can only work on the issues that I am aware of. When you are in a loving relationship, your partner becomes a mirror, reflecting back onto you, the traits that you are expressing. When I am loving, I can feel the love being reflected back to me. When I am an asshole, I can feel what assholes feel like.
Relationships Can Also Function As A Polishing Element:
We all employ defense Mechanisms when we feel threatened. However, in many cases, we use these defense mechanisms when there is no threat at all. It is within a relationship that we can slowly learn how not to use them.
Psychological projection is one of many defense mechanisms used in relationships. We have put together a list of the most common defense mechanisms not so you can look at what your partner is doing to you, but to determine if you are doing these to your partner.
Top 8 Defense Mechanisms:
- Denial- Refusing to admit to yourself that something is real.
- Distortion- Changing the reality of a situation to suit your needs.
- Passive Aggression- Indirectly acting out your aggression.
- Repression- Covering up feelings or emotions instead of coming to terms with them.
- Sublimation- Converting negative feelings into positive actions.
- Dissociation – Substantially but temporarily changing your personality to avoid feeling emotion.
- Rationalization or Blame- not holding yourself accountable for what you bring to the table. This is HUGE and it’s why it’s one of our relationship standards. Nobody creates a problem alone. Once you realize we are all reflections of one another and that each of us either attracts something into our lives or mirror dysfunctionality or repeat an abusive pattern subconsciously it’s always both party’s faults. This is where the saying, “it takes two to tango” comes into play. If your relationship is failing, you played a part in its demise.
Based on this shortlist, think about how many of these tendencies come up within your relationships. In doing so, first, start with those that you have displayed. If not, you are actually using both distortion and passive aggression!
Touching back on how relationships polish us, let’s imagine for a moment that we are all precious stones. When we first begin a relationship such as a marriage, consider that both parties are in their rawest form. Of course, we are both the stunning jewels that we could be with a bit of polishing, but currently, we are more like a hunk of potential. As couples fight and makeup, learn to compromise, practice self-assessment, and grow into one another, essentially they become each other’s, refining agents. What an accomplished jeweler can do with a raw gem and some silver, is what a partner can do for your mental, physical and spiritual evolution, and vice versa.
Personally speaking, I grew from a self-loathing, self-destructive, and biologically imbalanced human being, into a self-loving, happy, balanced yogi, due to the continual polishing effects of a dedicated marriage. So whenever you are experiencing rough patches in a relationship, imagine you and your partner as rough stones, either gently buffing out each other’s raw parts, or grinding away at parts that aren’t meant for the final product. I have to quote the great sculptor Michelangelo here,
“Every block of stone has a statue inside of it, it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
Ok, we talked about how a loving relationship can significantly aid in the process of self-improvement, expansion, ascension, and overall life happiness. But what about the dysfunctional relationships? How do you recognize that you are in one and what can you do to grow from it? Well, sometimes, in order for you to know what you want, you have to experience what you don’t want.
The Most Common Problems In A Relationship:
It’s no secret that relationship problems can cause disease and we’ve covered how healthy relationships are good for your health. Here are a couple of things to ponder in unhealthy relationships:
In studies of marital conflict, hostile interactions with a spouse are associated with signs of impaired immunity and increases in stress hormones. Other studies show that midlife women in unsatisfying marriages have higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, and higher body mass indexes than those in satisfying marriages. They also have higher levels of depression, anxiety, and anger.
Let’s Identify Unhealthy Patterns That Lead To Conflict Within A Relationship:
- Lack of trust
- Lack of communication
- Poor self-care
- Victim consciousness
- Perpetual imbalances
- Keeping score or power struggling
- Failure to forgive
- Now, there are deal-breakers within a relationship and those should be established immediately, but anything short of a deal-breaker should be seen as a work in progress.
The beauty of bad relationships is they are the BEST guides for growth. They really put all the lessons right in front of you to deal with. I like this quote:
“You were only there to be a healer. A fixer. To prepare them for the next love. Not yours.” ― Darnell Lamont Walker
If the relationship doesn’t work, it’s ok to let them go and surrender to finding your twin flame, soulmate, best friend, and lover. You want to have a few rounds of relationships before you meet the “one,” so you know what you want, and what you don’t want. As Abraham Hicks would put it, “ life is a buffet.”
In a previous episode called “You better Know Yourself So You Can Grow Yourself” we encouraged our listeners to use one or more of the many tools that can accurately tell you whether you and your partner are cosmically matched, or unmatched. You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole, and not every relationship is designed for success. In some cases, being ghosted, broken up with, or divorced may have been the best thing that could have happened to you. But, make sure you put your relationship to the test. I like to say that in order for you to test the strength of a ship, you need to put it through a storm.
We wanted to serve love to those who feel that they are not getting enough love from their partner or are looking for an assessment tool on how to be a better partner. So, we created a healthy relationship assessment tool to rate your relationship and identify opportunities for growth.
Take the quiz and see if your ship is sturdy or sinking.
A Relationship Is Like A Garden:
Gardens need constant love and attention. You got to keep out the weeds, the pests, and critters while managing the changes in weather. What you seed is the only thing you can sew, so if you are sowing seeds of discontent, you are going to harvest discontent. But, if you keep up with the maintenance, and make sure that love is the only thing that makes it into the soil, then your garden will produce what your mind, body, and soul need to be happy and healthy.
We shared the analogy of the ship and the storm already. I will say though, that once your ship has exited a nasty storm, the new level of confidence that you have gained in that relation-ship will inspire you to go further than you have ever dreamt of going.
Anyone who paints knows that when you mix the color yellow with the color green, you get the color blue. Yellow is a great color, and if it wants to remain yellow, it doesn’t have to do much. But, if it wanted to ascend the color scale and reach blue, then it must find a nice shade of green and play nice for only together will they both raise up. This is the nature of relationships. They are designed to uplift, expand, and spiritually mature each participant. If you want to stay the same, stay single.
Keeping Love Alive In Relationships:
Lastly, let’s end on an empowering note. We must address the common trait in all of these analogies which are answering the questions, who do the work, and what work needs to be done? Well, the answer to the first is so simple you would think that everyone knows it. Both people need to do the work and the work is never done. We like to quote Tony Robbins to return to tending to love gardening.
“Do the things at the end of the relationship that you did at the beginning of the relationship and there will be no end of the relationship.” -Tony Robbins
These “things,” can be small such as:
- Picking flowers, or picking up flowers for no other reason than to make your partner smile.
- Writing a 30-second love note and hiding in your partner’s purse, briefcase, car sunshade, jacket pocket, or leaving it on the fridge. “I will miss you all day today and my lips will prove it.”
- Making your partner’s favorite meal and serving it in your sexiest outfit.
- Surprise your partner with a random gift that you know will tug at their heartstrings.
- Date nights are a must not a maybe.
- Take a trip to somewhere neither of you has been in. The adventure you will share is short-lived and may be good or bad, but the memory will function as an adhesive between you that will last forever.
- Once a week practice a love habit. Dancing, playing cards, going for a walk, doing a chore together, drinking coffee or tea together, play storm where you turn off all the power in the house, and must do everything by candlelight.
- Touch! Touch is critical. We need to be touched and if you are not touching your partner every single day, then you are denying them this need.
We began the show with the observation that couples will either grow together or grow apart. We hope this episode helps you take out the weeds, laugh at your past pesky decisions to leave your garden unattended, and do the work to reap the harvest. We love you!