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Relationships: Handle with Care

Updated: Feb 5


Love, kindness and compassion are essential  ingredients to sustain and stabilise a relationship. This vsddddvvscvequally applies to relationships between individuals, families, societies and even nations. If you look at staying together in a broader sense, age-old Indian concept of Vasudeva Kutumbakam applies perfectly. It means, One World and One Family.


The recent G-20 Summit, held under India’s Presidency, has adopted in English the theme of "One Earth, One Family, One Future", which is based on our civilisational ethos of "Vasudeva Kutumbakam" If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships - the ability of all people, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace with each other.

Before we talk about nations, let us have a look at relationships first at the level of individuals. It is important to understand that how people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours. Also, we do not develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.

Then there is the issue of space and freedom in a relationship. Always remember, If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were. Giving space in a relationship is important.



Khalil Gibran describes it beautifully. Let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love, let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. All of us have this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can't just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it's going to get on by itself. You've got to keep watering it. You've got to really look after it and nurture it every day.


Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore says, Love does not claim possession, but gives freedom. All relationships go through ups and downs and take lot of commitment and willingness to stabilise them.


Every relationship is unique, and people come together for  different reasons. Part of what defines a healthy relationship is sharing a common goal for exactly what you want the relationship to be and where you want it to go. And that’s something you’ll only know by talking deeply and honestly with your partner.



I am going to share some key characteristics that most healthy relationships have in common. I say this from a position of being 81 years old, and having experienced a myriad of relationships in my life. I hope this will help you.


  1. One of the most important one is maintaining a meaningful emotional connection with your partner. Try and make each other feel loved and emotionally fulfilled. There’s a difference between being loved and feeling loved. When you feel loved, it makes you feel accepted and valued by your partner . Some relationships get stuck in peaceful coexistence, without partners truly relating to each other emotionally. While the union may seem stable on the surface, a lack of emotional connection serves only to add distance between two people. Do not be afraid of disagreement .

  2. Keep outside relationships and interests alive. No one person can meet all your demands. In fact, expecting too much from your partner can put unhealthy pressure on a relationship. To stimulate and enrich your romantic relationship, it’s important to sustain your own identity outside of the relationship, preserve connections with family and friends, and maintain your hobbies and interests.

  3. You communicate openly and honestly. Good communication is a key part in any relationship. When both people know what they want from the relationship and feel comfortable expressing their needs, fears, and desires, it can increase trust and strengthen the bond between partners. For most people, falling in love usually seems to just happen. It’s staying in love or preserving that “falling in love” experience that requires commitment and work. Given its rewards, though, it’s well worth the effort.

  4. Many couples focus on their relationship only when there are specific, unavoidable problems to overcome. Once the problems have been resolved they often switch their attention back to their careers, kids, or other interests. However, romantic relationships require ongoing attention and commitment for love to flourish.

  5. Many couples find that the face-to-face contact of their early dating days is gradually replaced by hurried texts, emails, and instant messages. While digital communication is great for some purposes, it doesn’t positively impact your brain and nervous system in the same way as face-to-face communication. Sending a text or a voice message to your partner saying “I love you” is great, but if you rarely look at them or have the time to sit down together, they’ll still feel you don’t understand or appreciate them. And you’ll become more distanced or disconnected as a couple.

  6. Try something new together. Doing new things together can be a fun way to connect and keep things interesting. It can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or going on a day trip to a place you’ve never been before.

  7. Focus on having fun together. Couples are often more fun and playful in the early stages of a relationship. However, this playful attitude can sometimes be forgotten as life challenges start getting in the way or old resentments start building up. Keeping a sense of humour can actually help you get through tough times, reduce stress and work through issues more easily. Think about playful ways to surprise your partner, like bringing flowers home or unexpectedly booking a table at their favourite restaurant. Playing with pets or small children can also help you reconnect with your partner.

  8. When you experience a positive emotional connection with your partner, you feel safe and happy. When people stop communicating well, they stop relating well, and times of change or stress can really bring out the disconnect. It may sound simplistic, but as long as you are communicating, you can usually work through whatever problems you’re facing.

  9. It’s not always easy to talk about what you need. For one, many of us don’t spend enough time thinking about what’s really important to us in a relationship. And even if you do know what you need, talking about it can make you feel vulnerable, embarrassed, or even ashamed. But look at it from your partner’s point of view. Providing comfort and understanding to someone you love is a pleasure, not a burden.

  10. If you’ve known each other for a while, you may assume that your partner has a pretty good idea of what you are thinking and what you need. However, your partner is not a mind-reader. While your partner may have some idea, it is much healthier to express your needs directly to avoid any confusion.

So much of our communication is transmitted by what we don’t say. Nonverbal cues, which include eye contact, tone of voice, posture, and gestures such as leaning forward, crossing your arms, or touching someone’s hand, communicate much more than words.



When you experience positive emotional cues from your partner, you feel loved and happy, and when you send positive emotional cues, your partner feels the same. When you stop taking an interest in your own or your partner’s emotions, you’ll damage the connection between you and your ability to communicate will suffer, especially during stressful times.


While a great deal of emphasis in our society is put on talking, if you can learn to listen in a way that makes another person feel valued and understood, you can build a deeper, stronger connection between you.


There’s a big difference between listening in this way and simply hearing. When you really listen—when you’re engaged with what’s being said—you’ll hear the subtle intonations in your partner’s voice that tells you how they’re really feeling and the emotions they’re trying to communicate. Being a good listener doesn't mean you have to agree with your partner or change your mind. But it will help you find common points of view that can help you to resolve conflict.



When you’re stressed or emotionally overwhelmed, you’re more likely to misread your romantic partner, send confusing or off-putting nonverbal signals, or lapse into unhealthy knee-jerk patterns of behaviour. How often have you been stressed and flown off the handle at your loved one and said or done something you later regretted?


If you can learn to quickly manage stress  and return to a calm state, you’ll not only avoid such regrets, but you’ll also help to avoid conflict and misunderstanding and even help to calm your partner when tempers build.


Touch is a fundamental part of human existence. Studies on infants have shown the importance of regular, affectionate contact for brain development. And the benefits don’t end in childhood. Affectionate contact boosts the body’s levels of oxytocin, a hormone that influences bonding and attachment.


While sex is often a cornerstone of a committed relationship, it shouldn’t be the only method of physical intimacy. Frequent, affectionate touch—holding hands, hugging, kissing—is equally important.



Of course, it’s important to be sensitive to what your partner likes. Unwanted touching or inappropriate overtures can make the other person tense up and retreat—exactly what you don’t want.


If you expect to get what you want 100% of the time in a relationship, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Healthy relationships are built on compromise.


If you approach your partner with the attitude that things have to be your way or else, it will be difficult to reach a compromise.


Conflict is inevitable in  any relationship, but to keep a relationship strong, both people need to feel they’ve been heard. The goal is not to win but to maintain and strengthen the relationship.


Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive others.


If tempers flare, take a break. Take a few minutes to relieve stress and calm down before you say or do something you’ll regret. Always remember that you’re arguing with the person you love.


Know when to let something go. If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on. It’s important to recognize that there are ups and downs in every relationship. You won’t always be on the same page.


Different people cope with stress differently, and misunderstandings can rapidly turn to frustration and anger.


Don’t take out your problems on your partner. Life stresses can make us short tempered. Fighting like this might initially feel like a release, but it slowly poisons your relationship. Remember that you’re a team. Continuing to move forward together can get you through the rough spots.


Look back to the early stages of your relationship. Share the moments that brought the two of you together, examine the point at which you began to drift apart, and resolve how you can work together to rekindle that falling in love experience.


If you need outside help for your relationship, reach out together. Sometimes problems in a relationship can seem too complex or overwhelming for you to handle as a couple. Couples therapy or  talking together with a trusted friend or religious figure can help.



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