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This is part of a series looking at microskills – changes that employees can make to help improve their health and life at work and at home, and employers can make to improve the workplace. The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first. Registration for 2017 has now closed. Winners will be announced at a conference in Spring 2017. Sign up to receive an e-mail about registration for 2018 at

Do you have a loving partner you can't wait to get home to see each day?

If you don't, there's evidence to suggest that it would be a positive thing to step back and consider what you could do to make this happen. If you have someone, this partnership is worth protecting. The London School of Economics found that finding love and enjoying good mental health are critical, and having a loving partner has a bigger impact on overall life satisfaction than getting a pay raise.

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The purpose of this microskill is to discuss the benefits of investing in a healthy and loving partnership to reduce stress, boost resiliency, and improve your life at home and at work.

This seems appealing, for too many people having a loving partner is a challenge and may not seem possible. Like most challenges, overcoming it requires a plan and action.


Having a loving partner in your life is not just luck; it takes effort and focus. Most of us know of no better joy in life than the feeling of true love. It's a powerful source of fuel that can give meaning to life as well as a non-judgemental support system.

If you're feeling like you may never find or have a partner who loves you for who you are, this microskill may be difficult to imagine. Just having a trusted friend is a challenge for the average person. CBC news reported a Duke University study that found that the average person today has only two trusted friends, suggesting that having caring relationships is a precise and important commodity.

There are other variations, but for simplicity, where are you today: 1) lonely, 2) in a relationship that is not optimal, or 3) have a loving partnership?

Being lonely can negatively influence your self-talk, confidence, and beliefs about your future. If you feel lonely, the first step to break out of this mindset and reality is to be honest with yourself. You can get a baseline of your loneliness by completing the Loneliness Quick Survey. This can help normalize how you feel and provide a few tips.

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If you're lonely, you may benefit from relationship building skill development, professional support and peer encouragement to break free so you can build self-confidence to get yourself out there and meet people.

If you're in a relationship that's not optimal, only you can decide what you like and what you want to do. While we can work to improve love and our relationships but we can't make someone love us. Once you decide what you want to do with your relationship, it's fine to get guidance on how to act if you're unsure. Typically, when a person feels trapped in a less than optimal relationship what stops them is a perceived consequence or fear (such as loneliness, finances and so on).

If you're in a loving relationship, perhaps there's no better investment in time than to do something daily to demonstrate your love. What you give you will get back in spades in a truly two-way loving relationship.


Maintaining love requires some partnership mindfulness each day. Ignoring the little things can lead to habits and outcomes that can strain love. Sadly, people can fall out of love as fast as they fall into it. Thus, people who understand this don't take their partner for granted and are committed to keeping the spark and their relationship alive and well. Following are a few tips that can help:

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When together, make time for your love zone – Life can have lots of issues and pull you in different directions, such as kids, bills, chores and work. Spend time in what you and your partner define as your love zone, where the topics are fun for both of you. This is where you both shut out distractions and enjoy each other's company and talk, play, and love. Sometimes a few minutes' chat to connect, a hug and a kiss and an expression of love can set the anchor for the day when done with intention.

Fix frustrations quickly – There's no way two people will always agree. Get in the habit of fixing frustrations quickly; don't allow them to brew. Creating a foundation and commitment upfront for how you both will fight fair with a few simple ground rules is helpful. The point is to not go to bed mad or frustrated. Talking about what you want is important. People who love each other want to make each other happy. Communication and honesty are at the core of maintaining a loving relationship. It sounds simple, but it's harder to do. Practice helps.

Honour little and big commitments – When we love another person truly it's not hard to make them a priority. Whenever you commit to do something for your partner, do what you say. Don't make excuses. Honour your commitments. Failing to do so seldom leads to a happy ending.

Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto. He is also the president of Howatt HR Consulting and founder of TalOp, in Kentville, N.S.

This series supports The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell's Employee Recommended Workplace Award.

This award recognizes employers who have the healthiest, most engaged and most productive employees. It promotes a two-way accountability model where an employer can support employees to have a positive workplace experience.

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You can find all the stories in this series at this link:

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