“Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away”. ~Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life, 1859

Without question the best days in my life are the ones where all the relationships work. We give each other enough space so that the annoyance factor is low, we lean in close enough to feel listened to, we spare each other the sarcasm veiled in jokes. Everyone feels valued and doesn’t have to prove anything. Having people around you to share your day-to-day life with is a fundamental need for happiness. We are not solitary creatures and connection on a screen does not feed the nervous system.

As messy as my life can get with so many individuals working to individuate, the sweetest and most meaningful things that happen everyday are in the context of this family. The worst days are when the relationships break down. I am not alone in this; According to Pat Swan, M.S., CMFT, a marriage and family therapist, “More than 90 percent of my clients suffering from depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses have one primary complaint–relationship problems at work or at home.”

John Gottman, the renowned marriage expert and a psychologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, confirmed that “Working briefly on your marriage every day will do more for your health and longevity than working out at a health club.” He also says that problems in a marriage may increase your risk of getting sick by 35 percent and reduce your life expectancy by four years. For singles, stress can be created during the search for a significant other.

Learning how to love the people you have chosen or promised your love to is the most rewarding and challenging task in the world. It makes everything else I do matter or not.

The daily weight of keeping it going makes it easy to take for granted or worse still compromise the love we have with mindless, thoughtless words or acts. Post this little poem somewhere to remind yourself to not take love for granted- to honor those who love us best.

There’s one sad truth in life I’ve found

While journeying east and west –

The only folks we really wound

Are those we love the best.

We flatter those we scarcely know,

We please the fleeting guest,

And deal full many a thoughtless blow

To those who love us best.

~Ella Wheeler Wilcox