Eighty-five percent of educators in the United States are female. And for many females, relationships are their lifeblood. For all human beings, male or female, personal relationships seem to be a key stabilizing or destabilizing platform in our lives. If our children are unhappy, we are worried. If our spouse/partner is unhappy, it impacts our lives, our work, our energy.

The Wall Street Journal (February 9, 2016) had an article titled “The Habits of Happy, Long-Term Couples,” which reported on a study done on relationships with 39,000 online responses. Several universities were involved.

Among the findings … Couples who have satisfying sex lives also do a lot of communicating.

The study found that the couples reserve time to be together (date night), say “I love you” more frequently, and often enjoy both praising and teasing each other.

As we stabilize our lives by having a strong platform of vital relationships, what kinds of communication make that platform stronger? Some important questions to ask are:

  1. How much time do I give the relationship? Time solely for the relationship? Just because you’re together doesn’t mean you’re communicating. Even though you might be talking, it may or may not be “communication.”
  2. Laughter and play are keys to good relationships. How much of those elements are embedded in communication? How often?
  3. How do you express gratitude and happiness in and for your relationships?
  4. How do you let your partner/spouse know that you love him/her?
  5. How do you avoid the relationship killer—criticism?
  6. What idiosyncrasies are you able to ignore?

Stephen Covey indicated that it is the people closest to us that we tend to hurt the most. The old expression “familiarity breeds contempt” is the downside of constant relationships, and repeated “rubs me raw” activities also contribute to that familiarity.

There are so many correlates to health, happiness, and longevity when we have good relationships. They are very much worth the time, energy, and satisfaction. And they are an incredible form of wealth.

Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. is the founder of aha! Process and an author, speaker, publisher, and career educator. Recognized internationally for A Framework for Understanding Poverty, her foundational book and workshop, Dr. Ruby Payne has helped students and adults of all economic backgrounds achieve academic, professional, and personal success.