“Relationships are the backbone of our society, whether they are with our parents, children, significant other, friends or work colleagues,” says relationship coach Kas Naidoo, who for years has made it her mission to create healthy, sustainable relationships.
It’s no wonder that many of us use this time of the year to mentally recalibrate when it comes to the things that really matter. Maybe you’ve had some ups and downs with ywour spouse or feel that you didn’t spend as much time with your children as you would have liked to. Consider this: make 2019 the year to be proactive when it comes to the people you love.
Naidoo agrees, adding that the holidays tend to shift focus to personal relationships, and that “now is a great time to look deeper at those relationships”.
I asked her and counselling psychologist Rakhi Beekrum for advice on how we can all be better in our relationships in 2019.
Disconnect to connect
So many times families find themselves sharing the same space but not conversation. Prioritise your partner by committing to quality time before committing to other activities, and agree on technology-free times and zones, advises Beekrum.
She’s also a fan of family dinner nights “with no distractions such as technology” as it’s an opportunity to bond as a family and know what’s going on in each other’s lives.
Be a role model
Although we’re not always aware of it, our children are watching our behaviour and forming beliefs based on what they witness.
“If you want your kids to one day create healthy, happy relationships for themselves, then be the role model for that kind of relationship,” says Naidoo.
Beekrum also says it’s important to practise what you preach. “Children do as you do, not as you say. So be mindful of whether you are setting an example you will be proud for your kids to follow,” she says.
Communicate more openly
“Learn the skills to communicate your needs in a way that your partner will be open to hearing you,” says Naidoo. The less constructive alternative is the other person becoming defensive when we make demands.
Resolve conflict maturely by stating how you feel and clearly asking for what you want (as opposed to screaming matches or silent treatment). Beekrum adds not to use name-calling, sarcasm, criticism, raising your voice or aggression.
Express your love and gratitude with small gestures. Make those around you know that they are appreciated. “People repeat behaviour that is rewarded,” Beekrum says.
“But, most of all, make the resolution to be kinder,” comments Naidoo.
Friends come and go. Beekrum is a firm believer in choosing your circle of friends wisely based on those who add value to your life, make you feel good about yourself and accept you as you are. In the same breath, celebrate friendships that are closest to your heart.
Take the lead
“Be proactive about meeting those friends that add value to your life, but distance yourself from those who drain your energy or always take without giving,” she concludes.