Friday, March 12, 2010

If relationships affect your health, what kind of partner should you choose?

Be the kind of person you
wish to have in a relationship
It’s no big secret that relationships affect your health. Whom you live with and whether you're single, married, divorced or widowed can offer clues to your health decades later (if not sooner).

Never mind the countless studies that have revealed this time and time again, take a look around – it’s pretty clear that people in unhealthy relationships experience more stress. And stress is associated with chronic health problems.

Moreover, each person’s body reacts differently to stress, thereby expressing different symptoms: muscle pain, weight gain, back pain, migraine, depression and so on. The severity of these symptoms will also depend on the overall condition of your health to begin with.

Even with the most compatible partner, conflicts and challenges in relationships will still exist. This is inevitable. It is life. But the point is that with the right partner, conflicts and challenges will occur much less, and when they do occur, they are not as “difficult” to deal with.

How the two of you work together to neutralize a conflict or overcome a challenge can be the very thing that makes or breaks your relationship. And how you are as a couple will eventually show through in your overall wellbeing.

Conflicts are common, they are even said to be necessary to keep things real, keep things balanced. They provide you an opportunity to learn and grow together and they’re meant to bring you even closer together when all is said and done. Well, this is the healthy version, anyway.

The unhealthy version would be not working together to resolve the issue, hanging on to grievances and by that, creating more pain. The unhealthy version is the “let’s just shove it under the mat for now” or “I don’t want to talk about it, case close” attitude.

This kind of attitude is like putting a band-aid over a wound just to cover it from view. The cut isn’t nurtured and therefore never really heals. It will resurface at another time over even the smallest issue. By then, the cut will feel deeper, hurt more and become harder to repair. And your overall wellbeing is somewhat compromised.

So how do you avoid all this pain, all these challenges?

Let’s just say: you can’t avoid them, but you can make the experience worthwhile. You start by making better choices with whom you have a relationship with. You can choose someone who adds to your life, not take away from it. So, how do you choose? Where do you start?

Many of you have shared your confusion when trying to clearly define what you’re looking for in a partner. Some of you say “I don’t yet know exactly what I want, but I know what I do not want.” Or, “I thought I knew what I wanted but now that I have it, it’s not what I thought it would be.”

Simply put: it’s not about being with a perfect person (because there is no such thing as a perfect person), but rather about being with the right person for you. Here are some guidelines you can follow that can help you make happier, healthier decisions.

In choosing the right partner, it’s not so much about the specific details of what they do and/or don’t do, but rather how your overall being feels when in a relationship with them. Overall, do you feel good inside?

What is this overall good feeling inside, you ask? Well, it is a number of things: it’s that sense of even when things aren’t right, you still feel peace in your heart that you’re together; they bring out the best in you; you feel you are a better person having them in your life; you love yourself even more when you’re with them. Something about them makes you want to do more good.

The people you surround yourself
with can affect your health
With all the challenges that a relationship can bring, it’s just more fulfilling to go through it with someone you’re most compatible with; perhaps someone who holds you up high and never looks down on you; someone who is ready to talk to you and not talk at you – or equally as unnurturing – not talk at all.

Even sad moments feel better just having them as your partner. When you’re faced with a challenging situation, no matter what conflicts you may have with one another, at the end of the day, you find a way to be on the same team, you want to have each other’s back. You agree on working and growing together.

Most people will tell you that a relationship is hard work – and this may be true. There is no short cut around the work. But what I can tell you is that the hard work does not feel like hard work when you’re with the right person. It can feel exciting, even effortless, and more rewarding.

Just knowing relationships can affect your health, wouldn’t it make sense to choose a relationship that predominantly makes you feel good inside – a relationship that promotes your wellbeing?

I can just hear some of you saying, “Yes! I like the sound of being with the right partner, but do they really exist?” The short answer: yes, they do exist, but you cannot recognize them for what they are if you don’t first start your search from within. In other words, in order to attract the partner you want, you must first “be” the kind of person you are looking for in a partner.

Even if currently you are already in a relationship, you can still introduce this idea. Regardless of how your partner chooses to act or react, you can consciously remain true to “being” the person you wish in a partner. Then, just observe the shift that will inevitably occur.

Spiritual teachers refer to this “conscious” non-judgemental behavior as being fully present in a relationship. And by “being conscious” and therefore present, you are then introducing light into the relationship:

“A door would have opened up for him/her through which he/she could easily join you in that space. If you are consistently or at least predominantly present in your relationship, this will be the greatest challenge for your partner. They will not be able to tolerate your presence for very long and stay unconscious.

“If they are ready, they will walk through the door that you opened for them, and join you in that state. If they are not, you will separate like oil and water. The light is too painful for someone who wants to remain in darkness.”
— Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and New York Times bestselling author of “The Power of Now.”

(Side note: If you have the belief that you don’t deserve the best relationship or that there’s no such thing as the right person for you, then you must have forgotten your birthright to completely love and be loved. Somehow along the way, you’ve adopted an unloving belief that is doing nothing for you but hurting your own chances for happiness. If this is the case, I suggest you revisit my article Could your “beliefs” be affecting the kind of relationship you truly deserve?)

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