If you haven’t read my article on the Deadly Relationship Habits (http://www.therelationshipcenter.biz/newsletters/deadlyhabits4_05.html), then you may want to do so by clicking on the link. This article tells you what to do in your relationships to replace the destructive habits with more healthy ones. Dr. William Glasser in his book, Getting Together and Staying Together, writes about the Caring Relationship Habits of listening, trusting, supporting, encouraging, respecting, accepting and negotiating differences. These are not as simple as they sound. This month we will look at the first four and I will follow up in December with the final three.

Listening is the first one because I think it is a great place to start. You may already think you listen and perhaps you do but the level of listening I am speaking of relates to not just hearing your partner, but truly trying to understand where he or she is coming from. You are listening for understanding. You want to know how it is they see things the way they do. You may not agree with their perception but you want to try to at least understand it from where they come from, in their shoes and in their skin.

Trusting is the next habit. Many of us come into relationships with baggage from previous ones, possibly making it difficult for us to trust. Many say trust is earned and I believe if you have made a decision to be in a relationship, then you must also make the decision to trust, until you receive information to the contrary. Trust is a true gift in a relationship and it costs nothing. You really aren’t putting your trust in your partner as much as you are trusting yourself to make good decisions. If you’ve exercised poor judgment in the past, instead of using that as an excuse not to trust, begin to think of it as a situation that helped you developed more discriminating instincts. When you learn to trust yourself first, it becomes easier to trust others.

If your partner betrays your trust, then put your trust in your higher power and know that you will survive and actually be stronger for the experience. You have learned a vital piece of information. Now, you will have decisions to make about your relationship. Not all relationships end when trust has been breeched. Some have been able to overcome infidelity and have found their way back to trusting each other. These will be decisions you will need to make if and when your trust is violated but don’t let someone else’s lack of integrity, define you. Your partner is only human and will make mistakes. Infidelity may be one of them. Don’t let that mistake make you feel as if you are somehow less than—as if you’re not good enough or are a fool for trusting. Trusting your partner is the way to a healthy, satisfying relationship.

Supporting is the next caring habit and simply refers to standing by your partner, lending your support whenever needed. I once worked with a couple who had vastly different vocational interests—he was a mechanic and she was a web designer. The husband prioritized providing for his family. In the winter heated his home with a wood stove, for which he chopped and stacked the wood himself. The wife was very much into creativity and was proud of the websites she designed for a wide variety of businesses. She would often call him to the computer to see what she had done and he would respond with a very disinterested, “That’s nice, dear.” He, in turn, would call her to their basement to see the great woodpile he had stacked, and she would be annoyed to have to go downstairs to look at a bunch of wood. Neither were supporting the other. When you are supportive you recognize your partner’s accomplishments and support him or her when things are challenging.

Encouraging is next. I have been asked, what is the difference between encouraging and nagging? Well, there’s actually a big difference. When you encourage someone, you are encouraging him or her to do something he or she wants to do. When you nag, you are encouraging someone to do what you want him or her to do. Big difference! Encouraging is for times when your partner needs a cheerleader. He or she is considering something that could potentially bring great joy but might just need a little encouragement to carry it through. In order for you to be a helpful encourager, you need to control your own fear about whether things will work out. You may worry if your partner does a particular thing, then it will somehow take him or her further away from you or endanger your happiness in some way. Naturally, this is possible, however, when you can be the encourager in a situation, your partner will more likely than not feel closer to you because of it.

Sometimes your fear of losing your partner is something that keeps you from using the Caring Habits. This fear comes from a faulty place of illusion. Your partner is never yours to own. Yes, in marriage you make promises. You want to believe those promises will last a lifetime but the reality is people are free to come and go in our lives. The tighter you try to hold on to someone, the greater the likelihood they will leave. And if you are successful in getting the person to stay, do you really want a relationship based on guilt and obligation? Sometimes the Caring Habits seem counterintuitive because we have been raised to believe in external control but know that every time you use external control, you are weakening the strength of your relationship.

This article has been geared toward relationships with your significant other. However, these are universal principles. They can be used in any relationship. You can implement the Caring Habits with your children, your parents, your in-laws, your siblings, your co-workers, your supervisor or basically anyone in your life with whom you’d like to get along better. Just make the decision to use them regardless of what the other person does.

Between now and next month, why don’t you choose one caring habit you could implement in an important relationship in your life? Pay attention to how your overall relationship is affected. Don’t expect anything in return. Don’t ask the other person to choose a Caring Habit, too. Just make your own commitment and watch the magic happen.

Author's Bio: 

Kim Olver is a life and relationship coach. Her mission is to help people get along better with the important people in their lives, including themselves. She teaches people how to live from the inside out by empowering them to focus on the things they can change. She in an internationally recognized speaker, having worked in Australia, Europe and Africa, as well as all over the United States and Canada. She is the creator of the new, revolutionary process called, Inside Out Empowerment based on Dr. William Glasser's Choice Theory. She is a public speaker and provides workshops in the areas of relationships, parenting, and a variety of self-growth topics. She is the author of Leveraging Diversity at Work and the forthcoming book, Secrets of Successful Relationships. She co-authored a book with Ken Blanchard, Les Brown, Mark Victor Hansen and Byron Katie, entitled 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. She works with individuals, couples, parents, social service agencies, schools, corporations and the military--anyone who will benefit from gaining more effective control over their lives. She has consulted on relationships, parenting, self-development, training, leadership development, diversity, treatment programs and management styles.