Celebrating the month of love
Feb. 13, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

The month of February makes us think about those people we love. But building and keeping strong, healthy relationships is a work in progress that has to take place all year. Building strong relationships is hard work … but so worth the effort. Healthy relationships don’t just happen! 

Here are 10 pointers to help strengthen and keep those relationships with our spouse, significant others, children, family and friends.

1. Commitment: Make your relationship a priority. Be willing to work for it. Being committed is about staying together during the good times and the bad. The relationships that survive the low points get outside help if needed, but are committed to work through the problems together.

2. Love and Affection: We all love differently. Find out what makes your important others feel appreciated and show them they are loved or appreciated.

3. Positivity: Keep your relationship more positive than negative. Partners with happy, long lasting relationships have 20 positive interactions for every one negative interaction.

4. Communication: How well you communicate is more important than how often you communicate. Talk with your partner, but more importantly learn to listen with your ears, your eyes and your heart.

5. Shared Activities: Find activities that you and your partner can do together. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are doing it together and being sensitive to how each other is feeling.

6. Friendship: Healthy relationships are based on friendship. Keep up with what’s going on in your partner’s or family members’ life and make time for your friendship.

7. Healthy Conflict Resolution: All relationships have conflict. How you manage conflict is what is important and how you respond to stressful times is what makes the difference.

8. Support: Support your partner by using encouraging words and through your behaviors. Think about how you would want to be supported and do likewise.

9. Empathy: Put yourself in your partner’s or family member’s shoes. Show that you care and respect their feelings.

10. Trust: It takes a lot of time and effort to build trust. Talk honestly with your partner and follow through on promises or give honest reasons if you can’t.

Contact the Harnett County Cooperative Extension office for more information or programs on healthy relationships or the signs of an unhealthy relationship, (910) 893-7530.

Wanda Hardison is Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Harnett County.