People often perceive relationships as a smooth run involving constant love and affection. The real picture puts relationships into a different frame of reference. Any marital relationship involves compromises and mutual respect. The changes we undergo make us develop new insights for ourselves. For our partners, change is inevitable too. The basis of stable relationships is adapting to the changes we go through. We need to accept our partners for who they are! Giving each other mutual space often makes marriages, or live-in relationships well-grounded.
 
The H-E-A-L method describes ways to fix a broken relationship. Sometimes, when we’re unable to accept our better half for their behavior, we begin to see them in a less favorable light. The point is, we’re not trying to look at things from their frame of reference. Domestic violence or abuse warrant distance, but subtle changes in character deserve reconsideration. If a partner becomes more distant or withdrawn, it isn’t a good idea to blow the situation out of proportion. The key is synchronizing your thoughts to try and figure out their perspective. This forms the first step towards mending a relationship that is dwindling.
 
  • H in the framework stands for ‘Hear’. The key to understanding someone else better is to be a good listener. We often claim to be good listeners and compassionate people. However, the truth is that we often let our own views affect what we’ve heard from someone else, or fail to listen to their woes in their entirety. Someone’s body language or mood can often tell you what they’re feeling. If you see any signs of hostility, it’s probably a good idea to have a little talk. Once you’ve understood what they feel is lacking (companionship, mutual respect), figure out why this feeling has arisen. Once you have done so, it becomes easier to make a compromise to heighten the other individual’s trust in the power of your relationship.
 
  • E stands for ‘Empathize’. Once you know that someone is feeling a certain way, try to put yourself in their shoes. Most individuals feel anger when they see their partner becoming withdrawn. We often tend to let anger take the wheel and conceal our true feelings. Hurt and pain may be some feelings that we mask with a burst of anger. Try to get in touch with these underlying emotions. It might help you synchronize your feelings with your partner, and truly understand why they feel a certain way. Assertiveness obviously becomes extremely important here. When both parties are able to express their feelings in a direct, assertive manner, a two-way understanding is easier to reach!
 
  • A refers to the simple process of ‘Acting’ on the problem at hand. Rather than understanding each other’s emotions, the key to fixing a problem is acting. If  your partner feels like you don’t help out around the house, do a few extra dishes, or take out the garbage more often! If your wife feels you don’t respect her work as a mother, tell her what a good job she’s doing with the kids or take her on a spa day to make her feel pampered! Acting on a problem makes one’s partner feel that an initiative is being taken! Believing that your relationship is meant to work out will propel you to act on preserving it.
 
  • Finally, ‘L’ or unconditional love is the pillar to any long-lasting relationship. Try to recreate the unconditional love that brought you together in the first place. Love is not contingent on what someone does, but how you actually feel about them. If you understand this, you’d be more likely to make compromises to make things work out. Making sure that the warmth is felt through your actions. Writing a note, or cooking a meal of appreciation could bring you closer together. Believing that you are meant to be rather than thinking about the impending doom caused by a few fall-outs might get you through. The emotion of love is what guides the journey towards a strong bond.
 
A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology studied the effect of divorce on children. There has been a lot of research conducted on the transgenerational effect of divorce. Children may believe that marriage is ‘impermanent’ upon observing parental separation. The results showed that the effect prevailed more with daughters. It did not however, discount that sons in some way, were affected by such incidences of separation.
 
Research has also shown that poor marital quality correlated to higher cardiovascular risk. 459 women and 793 women were studied by Liu and Waite to look at the correlations. It was seen that the correlations applied mostly to women. Negative marital quality affected cardiovascular health, and risks of hypertension. These correlations were only weakly observed in men. This does not mean that men have the unordained right to become emotionally unavailable in marriages. If anything, it would mean that they should show more concern for the health of their partners in case of marital turbulence.
 
It becomes clear that the effects of compromised relationships are not limited to both partners. They can transcend to the next generation as well. Ironing out grievances through mutual understanding often becomes the route to a healthy, happy life.

An undergraduate in Psychology, Shantanu is an aspiring Educational Psychologist who will be pursuing his Master’s in 2018 at the Ohio State University. He is adept with psychometric and statistical research, and has honed his grasp over psychology through a 4 year undergraduate course in Liberal Education at FLAME University, Pune.