Re-evaluating Relationships

Relationships is one of the areas of wellness that I struggle the most with. Whether it is really putting effort into the good relationships, eliminating the bad relationships, letting go of the ugly relationships, addressing the toxic relationships or ditching certain social media relationships, I struggle. Some relationships require more attention and effort and it can be work. It’s important to note that we have different types of relationships and they each influence and affect our lives in a different way. While some of our relationships are super healthy others can be toxic and draining and we need to learn how to address and re-evaluate those relationships without fear of what others think. We need to do this for ourselves.

I am a say it like it is, black and white kind of person. And I do not have time for nonsense. So sometimes, I ruffle feathers, speak my mind and create conflict in my relationships. Other times, I don’t want to rock the boat and I just let it be and then I really don’t do what I need to for my mental health regarding other relationships. As I’ve grown wiser with age, I do think more before I speak now…but I still open mouth and insert foot every now and then. But I think we all have our quirks and that’s the beauty of the world. We are all constantly learning and growing and hopefully trying to be better- for me, that is the key here.

I wanted to dive into a few things about relationships that I have learned from experience, from research and from my training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

To be fully transparent and brutally honest, I have had some pretty big doozies of relationships. Some my fault, others not so much. As uncomfortable as it is, I am going to talk about my first marriage, my estranged relationship with my sister and how social media has really affected me over the past few years.

While my divorce may not have been prevented (and I am happy it wasn’t because I know that relationship was a lesson from God and a blessing of my first 2 children), had I known how to communicate better, our parting and subsequent co-parenting relationship could have been so much better. It is a shame that it took us 13 years after our divorce to finally get our shit together and get along. Write this down…note to self, don’t be us. If we would have been more mature and set the precedent early on, we could have made communication so much easier, and that would have led to a less turbulent divorce.

Sometimes we just need to ask ourselves, which is better, being right or being at peace?

In the middle of a conflict with a spouse or a sibling, it’s easy to lose perspective and forget this question, but with practice we can create healthy relationship habits that help us survive even the toughest times. Getting married so young and not having that much life experience outside of family and school, this lesson can get lost and kind of picked up along the way with some bad relationship habits.

I wish I would have know to ask myself this question when my sister and I had a huge falling out on Thanksgiving. Yep, the one day of the year that families get together, drink too much and fight about dumb shit! It also happens to be my most favorite day of the year.

We fought about her dog…he’s her baby and he always goes after one my kids. Like literally tries to bite’s like he wants to eat him or something and it’s been that way since he was a newborn. I had finally had enough and went off about it. I even vaguely recall leaving dinner because I was so pissed. I have tried to talk to her since, but she's not interested… there’s more to it too, but the point is that she is avoiding what she deems toxic and you know what, that’s ok. Sometimes we have to make peace for ourselves. And I have made mine. If this is her version of peace, then so be it.

We have to accept when relationships end. Learn the lesson, take away something, or grow from it and move on.

We need to normalize outgrowing relationships and cheering for each other from afar.

It’s OK to protect your energy. It’s OK to protect your mental health and if that means re-evaluating your relationships…then DO IT.

During my time at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition I learned some simple tips for coping with conflict and I wish I had learned these years ago.

These are the things our high-schoolers need to be learning. Not so much about the x and y axis but more about legitimate life lessons…like communication skills, balancing relationships, budgeting etc.

Tips for coping with conflict are:

Try to keep the conversation solution-centered

Many times in an argument, both people push each other to only see the problem – one person harps on a mistake and then the other person gets defensive. (Hi, it’s me) Instead, we need to focus on possible solutions that will minimize the drama and put us back on the same team or at least not in a state of conflict. {I need to frame this and read it everyday because this reminder is so critical to marriage!!!}

We also need to remember that conflicts repeat themselves

Many arguments grow from a reoccurring conflict. (ah hem- divorce and siblings) Perhaps you and your sister fundamentally disagree on a sensitive subject, like the dog, or she handles situations differently and it rubs you the wrong way.

These engrained differences in our perspective can lead to a loop of endless arguments (like our fight about the kids vs the dog). Fighting about it again and again does not usually resolve the root of the problem, it only exacerbates it. And then you fight at Thanksgiving and your mom looses her mind because she is so embarrassed. Sorry mom.

We should try bringing the conversation to the next level – acknowledge that we both may never be on the same page about the issue and act like adults- talk it out.

The biggest tip for coping with conflict is to practice FORGIVENESS.

Sincere forgiveness can be a tremendous relief and a simple strategy to overcome conflict. And if noting else, it is freedom from the chains toxic conflict. I finally was able to forgive my ex-husband and let go of the bitterness and resentment. It was liberating. Not only did we start to get along better, but I felt FREE. Everyone is human, makes mistakes, and comes into their relationships with a different perception of the world and their place in it.

So, we need to learn to take our entire relationship with this person into consideration and ask, ourselves if the relationship progress with this conflict? If the answer is no, forgiveness might be the answer. It may not be easy, but it is worth it and anything worth it is usually not easy. Forgiving my ex-husband has been the best thing that I have ever done for myself, my children, my husband and my mental health.

My biggest lesson from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and all of the wellness research that I have done over the years is that communication and learning to listen are the cornerstone of every strong relationship.

We won’t always agree with the people that we are in relationships with (regardless of what type of relationship- marriage, business, siblings, friends and online), but if we have a foundation of respect and clear communication it will be much easier to resolve any conflicts that may arise.

Social media has been really getting to me over the past few years. That’s why I do a social media detox at least once a year…most of the time for 30 days but this year, its been closer to 90. I needed the reprieve and the mental clarity. I was getting caught up in the virus, feeling down about myself and my business because I was comparing myself to to others..I was letting it affect my mental health.

So, here is your permission to unfollow friends on Facebook that light you up about politics or engage in activities that you disagree with. Mute family members that drive you crazy with their antics. Unfollow those Instagram accounts that make you feel guilty, bad about yourself, not worthy, not good enough.

Save your mental health and avoid those toxic, ugly relationships at all costs.

Try not drink wine, play on Facebook and call people assholes because they are not doing things that you would do. Don’t engage in conflicts online because you could be ruining other relationships. Re-evaluate your current relationships and don’t feel bad about it. Sometimes friendships end. Sometimes people grow apart. Sometimes we evolve and people don’t fit into our lives. It’s ok. It’s normal. If we are not evolving, we are stagnant and either way, our relationships may suffer. We need to feel confident in every relationship that we have and if we are currently questioning whether or not someone fits into our life anymore, we need to have the courage to re-evaluate that relationship. So, friends, siblings, neighbors and even social media friends. Re-evaluate how they make you feel. The answer is in the feeling.

Now when it comes to marriage, I think it is safe to say that communication is one of the biggest struggles that we all might have, whether it is because we don't say thank you enough or because we assume that we know what they are thinking…and a slew of other reasons.

One simple thing that we all can do is to acknowledge when our partner goes beyond the call of duty, even for little things, like doing that chore we hate to do. Like the dishes!! I need to be better about saying thank you when my husband does the dishes. So thank you Stephen for doing the dishes for me! My nail polish thanks you too!

There is no way that I could do an episode about relationships without talking the 5 love languages!

I wish I had been introduced to the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman sooner in life. He explains that there are five ways to express and experience love. This is another life lesson we should have as teenagers!! Not adults! We carry the weight of bad relationships for way too long!!! We go into marriages not knowing how to communicate clearly and how to resolve conflict.

PS he also has a book called the 5 Love Languages for children. This was helpful for me with my kids. Thank you to my amazing MIL for that one! She always finds the best books.

The 5 love languages is a simple tool that can help foster the good relationships that we have. Especially with our spouses, dear friends and kids.

You can download the 5 Love Languages resource here! You will be able to establish your Love Language or Languages from this worksheet. There are also some questions there that can help you keep your conversations solution-centered and next-level too!!

Let’s connect!

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The Gram



Prosper & Flourish podcast

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