Expat Unplugged: Relationships Got You Down? Here is the Heart of the Matter (in 5 Easy Lessons)...

Andrea , 23 Dec 2011
Heart hands
I Heart You!

It seems that everyone around me is going through a transitional stage in their relationships, be it with a romantic partner, family member or friend. Some transitions are wonderful to witness like the marriage of two of my favorite friends in the world. Hooray for MissMalini and Nowshad Rizwanullah! On the other hand, some transitions are heartbreaking like the crumbling of a marriage I once viewed as an example of true love. Needless to say, the topic of some of my most heartfelt conversations over the past month has revolved around relationships – the good, bad and everything in-between. Well, it’s not Friday, but since I love things in five we will just stick to the theme anyway. This non-Friday, let’s talk about nurturing relationships, because I, myself, am in love with the idea of everlasting love. Now, I know absolutely no one even remotely certified in relationship counseling – and I am definitely not a perfect partner to anyone by any means – but over a few cups of coffee, a couple of tears, and many laughs, here are five lessons I’ve collected from my loved ones on how to nurture your relationships.

1. Know Your Love Language (and your partner’s) (and maybe your mom’s) (or your best friend’s) (or…)
Love Language
Love Language

What the heck is a love language you ask? It is the primary way of expressing and interpreting love. According to studies, each person is inclined to express and interpret in one of five languages. The five love languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. I am a bit of a smorgasbord and cannot identify with any one language, but it is said if you know your love language, and that of your partners, then expressing love can be more powerful and effective. Have you figured out your love language?

2. Actively Pursuing Your Significant Other
Chasing love
Chasing Love

This is a pretty simple theory that says if you put in the work to get a relationship, then you should put in the work to keep the relationship. The same may not apply to those relationships you were born into, but why not put in a little extra work just for good measure?

3. Celebrate Each Other
Celebrate
Celebrate

My mom is the best example of someone who celebrates every little accomplishment of those around her. She has been known to send me a handwritten card for things as small as not burning dinner. Yes, I am an awful cook. Whether it’s your friend, family member or partner, being their biggest cheerleader not only helps them feel known, loved and celebrated but also is a bonding moment for the two of you. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a celebration?

4. Public Praise, Not Put Downs
Don't Talk about your Relationship
Don't Talk About Your Relationship

This is a lesson I have learned from observing my sister’s marriage over the years. No matter what the circumstance, my sister will never speak of her husband in a negative light to others. This is something I did not quite understand at first, as I have a plethora of girlfriends that air their significant other’s dirty laundry without a second thought. Why did my sister never join in? I did not realize until very recently that although it would be easier to have a good whine session with your girlfriends, it probably would do more harm to you and your relationship in the long term. (Note to self: keep relationship issues in the relationship.)

5. Verbal Affirmation
Notes that show you Care
Notes that Show You Care

These ideas are my favorite as I personally adore greeting cards. My mother suggests telling others three things you appreciate about them frequently. My girlfriend writes daily e-letters on her facebook status to show appreciation to anyone from her husband to the inventor of pumpkin pancakes. I like any opportunity to give a greeting card. Whether spoken, written, or spelled out in gumdrops, don’t forget to tell someone you care today.

(P.S. I have been trying these on my relationship with Mumbai specifically during the Christmas season and it hasn’t changed the weather one bit.  Still no snow, but I will keep trying to coax the temperature down using wishful thinking and, of course #3, celebrating every drop in the temperature gauge. Let’s hear it for 21 degrees woohoo!)

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