Navigating Relationships

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© 2019 Integrative Nutrition, LLC |


NAVIGATING RELATIONSHIPS Humans are social beings. We’re capable of maintaining many meaningful relationships at a time. In short, we’re hardwired for connection! During the course of a lifetime, we have many different types of relationships – partners, parents, children, friends, teachers, coworkers, neighbors – that continue to evolve over time. At their core, relationships fulfill our basic needs for love, friendship, touch, intimacy, and sex. People often make the mistake of assuming that one person can fulfill all these needs. In reality, no one is capable of this – that’s why we seek different types of connection in different relationships! The health of our relationships has the potential to fuel or drain us, making this area of primary food pivotal to our overall well-being. While relationships can be a source of joy and comfort, they can also be challenging to navigate. Our unique perspectives, lifestyles, values, priorities, and even attachment styles can lead to miscommunication and hurt feelings. It’s no wonder that an entire industry has evolved to support us in maintaining the health of our relationships. From therapeutic approaches to self-help books, blogs, and apps, more resources than ever are available to support us in navigating the peaks and valleys of our relationships.


While many experts and approaches speak directly to romantic relationships, their messages and strategies can be applied to all relationships. Read on to learn more about a few prominent approaches and consider how you might leverage these approaches to improve the health and happiness of you, your clients, and your loved ones. IMAGO THERAPY Imago Therapy was created by Dr. Harville Hendrix after seeing a connection between frustrations in adult relationships and childhood experiences. This approach is based on the premise that unresolved childhood wounds, such as abandonment or neglect, tend to reappear in adult romantic relationships. Working through these issues can better help inspire a sense of overall wellness. To do this, Dr. Hendrix lays out two key ways to foster understanding within relationships: safe conversation and creating pleasure. Foundational Tools of Safe Conversation

Three Approaches to Creating Pleasure

• Mirroring

1. Through caring behaviors

• Validation

2. Through surprises

• Empathy

3. Through high energy fun

To read more about Imago Therapy and learn how a safe conversation can help couples move from blame to empathy, visit


THE GOTTMAN APPROACH The Gottman Institute was founded by Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman. The Institute emphasizes the art and science of love – a two-pronged approach that honors the need for compassion within relationships while providing a science-based approach to human connection. The Gottman Method supports couples in managing conflict and increasing intimacy, respect, and affection. Through their research, the Gottmans have discovered that happy couples tend to have five times as many positive interactions as negative ones, while unhappy couples have a balance of positive and negative interactions. They have also identified four “horsemen” that exist within relationships that can lead to the end of otherwise healthy relationships. This research is widely cited in popular literature. The four horsemen are: 1| Criticism 2| Contempt 3| Defensiveness 4| Stonewalling To learn more about the Gottman Institute and the Gottman Method, visit To see Dr. Gottman speak about the science of love, visit


THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES According to Dr. Gary Chapman, a Christian pastor, marriage counselor, and the creator of the five love languages, “love is a choice you make every day.” The love languages are based on the idea that everyone expresses and receives love differently. Learning other people’s love languages can improve communication and contentment within relationships. Chapman’s work can be applied to all types of relationships, including romantic and family relationships at all stages of life. The five love languages are: 1| Words of affirmation 2| Acts of service 3| Receiving gifts 4| Quality time 5| Physical touch To take the quiz or learn more about the love languages and discover your own love language,, visit

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