Love is one of the most profound emotions known to human beings. Love is grand. It’s
fulfilling, exciting, if it’s true, love is in the heart, and, as it turns out, good for you, too. “All you need is love,” sang the Beatles, and they got it right. True love and good health are intertwined in surprising ways. Humans are wired for connection, and when we cultivate good relationships, the rewards are immense.
Experts have determined that romance can bring you more than just giddiness, it can also positively affect your health and well-being. There are many kinds of love, but most people seek its expression in a romantic relationship with a compatible partner. Here is one of my favorite sayings about love…author unknown…..
Love is an emotion experienced by the many and enjoyed by the few.
In one of the studies, researchers looked at 34 couples who lived together and tested for the stress hormone cortisol before, during and after being separated for four to seven days. Researchers found that when the couples were separated physically, they had higher cortisol levels and had worse sleep than when they were together. According to researcher Lisa Diamond, of the University of Utah,
the findings can contribute to our emerging understanding of the process through which longstanding romantic ties are good for our health.
All of us have an intense desire to be loved and nurtured. In this Psychology Today article, Raj Raghunathan, Phd, said this about our need for love and being loved.
In the surveys that I have conducted, people rate having healthy relationships as one of the top goals, on par with the goal of leading a happy and fulfilling life.
That’s why for many, romantic relationships comprise the most meaningful aspect of life, providing a source of deep enjoyment and fulfillment. The need for human connection appears to be innate, but the ability to form healthy, loving relationships is learned.
A great deal of evidence suggests that the ability to form a stable relationship begins in infancy, in a child’s earliest experiences with a caregiver, who reliably meets the infant’s needs for food, care, warmth, protection, stimulation, and social contact. Such relationships are not destiny, but they appear to establish deeply ingrained patterns of relating to others. A baby not getting loving contact (touched), particularly during their first six months of life, grow up to have psychological issues. According to a National Institutes Of Health study, and we quote:
Depriving infants of a loving family environment causes lasting damage to their emotional well-being, their intelligence and their capacity to develop fully.
. Failed relationships happen for many reasons, and the failure of a relationship is often a source of great psychological anguish.
Most people have to work consciously to master the skills necessary to make relationships endure and flourish. Strong relationships are continually nurtured with care and communication. Although relationships can
take many forms, certain traits have been shown to be especially important for healthy relationships. Both individuals should feel confident that their partner is willing to devote time and attention to the other, and that they are committed to accommodating the differences and challenges that inevitably emerge. In the 21st century, good relationships are generally marked by a sense of fairness in the distribution of the chores of maintaining a household and daily responsibilities.
Partners also feel grateful for one another, openly provide and receive affection, and engage in honest discussions about sex In good relationships, partners always afford their partner the benefit of the doubt, which creates a sense of being on the same team in life, a feeling that can help couples overcome many difficulties. The importance of feeling grateful and thankful for your loving partner, and vise versa, is a very positive emotion strengthening a relationship.
Every romantic relationship has many essential characteristics that make it a long-term healthy relationship. So here are some of the most important characteristics, which basically describe any healthy romantic relationship.
Important Relationship Characteristics
Honest Direct Open Communication. The need for honesty in a relationship is summed up pretty easily in this NIH article
If you don’t have honesty in a relationship, then there is no relationship.
In a healthy relationship, if one of the partners is bothered by something, they should openly talk with their partner about it, instead of holding it in, and avoid passive aggressive behavior. According to an article published in The University of California Berkley “Greater Good Magazine”, learning to express anger or disappointment in a healthy way, or avoiding being passive aggressive, will help couples resolve conflicts, instead of letting them simmer and cause further damage, or even ruining a relationship. There are ways you can improve your communication skills. Be quiet and be a good
listener, choose the right time, and talk openly face to face, be totally honest and frank, and, pay attention to the importance of body language, especially eye-to-eye contact.
Positive Versus Negative. Sometimes, we get caught up in the negative. We hate our jobs, are annoyed with our friends, and our boyfriend or girlfriend is getting on our last nerve. Uh-oh, have we been drinking too much of that half-empty glass? It’s vital that we look at our partner’s positive qualities, in contrast to the negative. And, on a personal level, it’s also vital important to maintain a positive mental attitude.
It’s not only because it benefits your physical and mental health, but positivity attracts positivity in a healthy way, according to a Mayo Clinic study. So, positive thinking keeps the “good vibes” flowing with your loving partner. Just as important, it will help prevent negative thoughts from creeping in, as well.
According to research, when happily married couples are asked what part of their relationship is the most important to their strong healthy relationship, they always seem to cite the positive aspects of their relationship. Nobody is perfect, and that includes our significant other. So instead of focusing on the bad, let’s make a conscious effort to look at the good.
Mutual Respect Importance. Mutual respect is essential for a healthy relationship. The partners should listen to one another. They should value each other’s opinions, wishes and feelings and listen to their partner patiently without being judgmental. They should show appreciation, respect, and patience, for each other. Couples who respect each other and support one another, and value each other’s opinion and independence, because of their honesty and independent, can make decisions together and even compromise when necessary. According to Sutter Health,
You have to give respect in order to get it.
The Give and Take Principle. Disagreements are a normal thing in healthy relationships. The partners need to find a way to make a compromise if they disagree on something. They have to try to solve conflicts in a fair and rational way. There are arguments to be had in every relationship.
It’s crucial to bring issues to the forefront, and work through the hard times together. However, I don’t think arguing over your using your favorite old beat-up coffee cup should be one of those. Choose your battles wisely, because people in happy and healthy relationships do.
Fun and Unusual activities.
It’s easy to fall into a rut, and in turn simply take your partner for granted,
says licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD, author of “Should I Stay Or Should I go?”. As mentioned earlier, that’s why both partner are grateful for having each other. But, couples who actively pursue unique and fun things together can avoid the rut syndrome, like this couple having some simple fun together.
By mixing your activities, the relationship remains interesting and you continue to discover and appreciate new things about each of you,
says Dr. Durvasula.
You have to keep it interesting! Here are a few good examples of unique and fun things done together that will keep things interesting: Have a cocktail party at home, take your pet dog for a swim, watch the stars come out, or a sunrise, share a massage, pick a random spot on the map and go there together, go offline and wireless for a night, go roughing it out in nature, create a unique garden, and make Maca smoothies together. What Is In Maca Root and why it makes such delicious smoothies!
Partner Sleeping. If you been having trouble sleeping lately, you might want to consider finding a snuggle buddy. Scientific studies prove that sleeping with a partner is good for your health and well being, and will help you sleep better at night. One of the reasons that sleeping with a partner is healthier than sleeping alone, may be because couples who sleep together have feelings of safety and security, which may lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
It’s also possible sleeping with a significant-other increases the hormone oxytocin, which reduces anxiety and is produced in the same part of the brain that controls your sleep-wake cycle, according to an NIH study. Quoting the NIH study:
supporting the notion that intranasal oxytocin in healthy individuals enhances the recognition of emotion and elevates the level of trust in established relationships.
Sleep is linked to heart disease and psychiatric well-being, meaning that a healthy and consistent sleep pattern leads to health benefits.
In Between the Sheets. Let’s also talk about how important it is in cultivating a flourishing relationship. There are well-established findings that individuals experience higher levels of well-being when they have an active and satisfying sex life. But, according to the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, it’s more than just about sex
Our findings underscore the importance of affection and positive affect for understanding how sex promotes well-being and has long-term relational benefits.
Sex is simple, but it’s more about the touching and the affection shown by the 2 partners. The more you have that affection, the more you want it. The other side of that is true as well. The less you have it, the less you want it, and, unfortunately, the less you’ll have well being and feel connected to your partner. Keep your sex life alive and interesting. “Spicing it up” is not just meant for the kitchen.
Sharing Cooking Duties. Research has shown sharing daily responsibilities together build stronger, longer-lasting relationships. The same can go with cooking healthy meals side by side. Couples are more affectionate when they feel confident in themselves, and getting healthier will do just
that. Cooking will not only help your waistlne, but it can also help your relationship, and preparing a meal with your partner can help you both feel more connected and much happier. Cooking has added bonuses for its health, convenience, and joyful qualities. You’ll be even happier with your partner for helping you cook a healthy, well-balanced, nutritious dish of the four major food groups, such as a theme dinner, and sharing this healthy lifestyle together, and with your family and friends. And speaking of nutritious foods, according to a Sage Journals study, men seemed to benefit most health-wise from the new arrangement. Quoting the study:
However, associations between women, food and nurturing were evident in the efforts women made to improve their husbands’ diets.
And, it doesn’t have to stop with cooking, gardening, grocery shopping, and even cleaning the house are other practical ways to add to that time together, strengthening your love for each other. Research has also shown that doing useful and practical things together were particularly important to men.
Trust and Support. Happy partners in a relationship are normally both secure people and offer reassurance and encouragement to each other, according to Jeffery Simpson, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota. Secure partners have a positive view of both themselves and their romantic partners in the context of relationships.
They need to support each other’s goals in life and let their partner know when they need their support. In healthy relationships the partners should build each other up, not put each other down. This is one of the most important relationship tips that many people do not follow. “Lean on me when you’re not strong, I’ll be your friend……I’ll help you carry on……..”. Do this verse ring a bell? Listen to this version, sung by Lou Prince in tribute to Lou Rawls.
Exercise As A Pair. Research finds surprising healthy benefits from participating in physical activity together, such as helping you both achieve your fitness goals, increase your thrill of romantic attraction,
and your happiness with your relationship, and increase your physical and emotional bond. In a Time Magazine article, Terri Orbuch, PhD, and marriage researcher, who studied married couples for 28 years through the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center, said in her interview that, not only does exercise help couples out in the bedroom by boosting your endurance, strength and flexibility, but also a sweat session has more immediate benefits by releasing endorphins, which gives you an adrenaline rush increasing desire and boosting arousal. Enough said!
Privacy Respect. The partners in a healthy relationship should respect each other’s privacy. Just because you are in a relationship, it doesn’t mean that you have to constantly be together or demand to know what your partner is doing at all times. Healthy relationships require space and as we said, its all part of trusting. Spending time together with your partner is important.
But just as important is spending time apart. Being able to do your own things and remain independent is vital. When couples spend too much time together, it can create an unhealthy co dependence. Maintaining healthy boundaries and some autonomy will make for a long-lasting partnership. Dr. Orbuch contends, having enough space or privacy in a relationship is most important for a couple’s happiness.
Quality Not Quantity. It’s all about quality and the right balance over quantity. It doesn’t matter how much time you and your partner spend together. The most important part is about balance and the quality of this time. There’s a huge difference between having dinner at a table while talking about your day at work, versus having dinner while sitting on a couch watching the latest episode of The Voice.
It’s fine to zone out together and enjoy distractions, but it’s crucial to make sure you two are still engaging and spending quality time together to maintain a deep connection. So, what is the right balance? Here are 5 ideas from Psychology Today article.
According to Harry Reis, PhD, and co-editor of the Encyclopedia Of Human Relationships stated
People who fall in love, say it feels wonderful and agonizing at the same time. All those ups and downs can be a source for stress.
If love is in the heart, it will be a calmer, more stable form of love to yield clear health benefits.
There is very nice evidence that people who participate in satisfying, long-term relationships fare better on a whole variety of health measures,
Reis said. Here are some examples:
Enhance Immune System Function
Been saving your sick leave for that 8-day cruise around the Caribbean? Well, get busy in the bedroom! According to sexual health expert Yvonne K. Fulbright PhD, “sexually active people take fewer sick days.”
Being in an intimate relationship correlates to healing faster, getting sick less often and living longer,
says James Coan, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. It so happens that being sexually active strengthens your immune system by not hobbling it with stress and anxiety.
Good relationships offset tension in daily life.
Who could have guessed that a half hour of fun in the sheets with your significant other could burn off the vanilla ice cream you ate last night? Experts, such as Professor Antony D. Karelis, along with colleagues from the Université du Québec à Montréal in Canada, studied exactly how many calories we burn when we get our groove on, and in his article published in the journal Plos One, estimates that sexual intimacy burns about 5+ calories per minute, meaning thirty minutes of sex can burn about 150 calories or more. Even though it may not sound like much, it definitely adds up. Who said sex wasn’t healthy?
Fewer Sick Days
The Health and Human Services Department reviewed a bounty of studies on marriage and health. One of the report’s most striking findings is that married people have fewer doctor’s visits and shorter average hospital stays. Researchers are not absolutely certain why loving relationships are good for health, other than, that human beings have been designed by evolution to live in closely knit groups.
When that doesn’t occur, the biological and immune system become overwhelmed and can’t fight infections. Another major consideration is that
people in good relationships take better care of themselves. Another study at Carnegie Mellon University, found that people who exhibited positive emotions, and were happier, calmer, and healthier, and were less likely to get sick after exposure to colds and flu viruses.
Less Anxiety and Depression
Getting married and staying married, reduces depression in both men and women, because social isolation is clearly linked to higher rates of depression, and overuse of prescription drugs. Everyone needs to feel like they are not alone and part of something and at the same time, also feel needed.
Social support in a relationship is vital and effective part of relieving depression. It can turn around damaging isolation, affect a person’s life focus, and generate solutions for depression management,
according to Erika Krull, MSEd, LMHP, of psyccentral. In young married adults, studies show a decline in heavy drinking and drug abuse. In long-term relationships, you also have activation in the areas associated with bonding, and less activation in the area that produces anxiety. Studies also show a link between social support found in a loving relationship, increased the ability to cope with stress for both partners.
Control Blood Pressure
That’s the conclusion of a study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine. Researchers found happily married people in quality relationships, had the best blood pressure, followed by singles. Unhappily married participants fared the worst. This supports the idea that other positive relationships can have similar benefits.
In fact, singles with a strong social network also did well in the blood pressure study, though not as well as happily married people. an MRI study reveals another big perk for long-term couples, more activation in the part of the brain that keeps pain under control. A CDC report complements this finding. In a study of more than 127,000 adults, married people were less likely to complain of headaches and back pain.
The power of a positive relationship may make flesh wounds heal faster. Researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center gave married couples blister wounds. The wounds healed nearly twice as fast in spouses who interacted warmly compared with those who demonstrated a lot of hostility toward each other. The National Institutes Of Health concurred with Ohio State’s findings in their review.
A growing body of research indicates that married people live longer. One of the largest studies examines the effect of marriage on mortality during an eight-year period
in the 1990s. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), researchers found that people who had never been married were 58% more likely to die than married people. The National Institutes Of Health reviewed the NHIS research and said
Among the not married categories, having never been married was the strongest predictor of premature mortality.
Married people live longer because they feel loved and connected.
It may seem obvious that one of love’s greatest benefits is joy. But research is just beginning to reveal how strong this link can be. A study in the Journal of Family Psychology shows happiness depends more on the quality of family relationships than on the level of income. And so we have scientific evidence that, at least in some ways, the power of love trumps the power of money.
How about that happy healthy life? If you are single, or unattached, do you feel like its time to find that “special someone”, and experience firsthand when love is in the heart. Would love to hear your comments. If you have unanswered questions, leave them below, and be happy to address them.
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