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Research Has Shown that Good Relationships Keep Us Happier and Healthier

The happiest people, according to a 2002 Harvard study, are those who have close ties to friends and family and who are committed to spending time with them. If you’re like me, you believe this wholeheartedly, and nurturing strong bonds with family is a priority for you. But our relationships are constantly changing, and they’re impacted by so many things that are outside of our control. They can be complicated and messy, and the definition of a “good relationship” is never black and white.

In recent years, I’ve struggled with a wide array of conflicted emotions as I spent time with my dad who suffered from Alzheimer’s, helped my mom with a move that involved major downsizing, helped my children work through college and career choices, and adjusted to a new routine with my husband where day-to-day parenting was no longer our primary responsibility. I wanted to give everyone what they most needed but felt like I was falling short everywhere.

“Relationships…can be complicated and messy, and the definition of a “good relationship” is never black and white.”

My kids didn’t need me as much as they used to, and my parents needed me more. I was thrilled to have raised kind, bright and happy young adults who were spreading their wings and gaining independence, but a part of me missed the constant chatter, the chaos, and even the chauffeuring that accompanied life with younger children.

I was proud of them and excited for their future, but I was sad that a special chapter of my life (and my husband’s and my life together) was coming to an end. My dad’s decline marked another ending, and, although my mom’s situation was entirely different, her life was also changing significantly — as was the support she needed from me.

Navigating these transitions wasn’t easy. At various times, I felt frustrated, angry, sad, annoyed, guilty, resentful, hopeful, relieved, grateful, excited… you name it!

“…but a part of me missed the constant chatter, the chaos, and even the chauffeuring that accompanied life with younger children.”

Eventually, sorting through my feelings enabled me to figure out how to support everyone else, while still honoring my own needs. I later realized the struggles I’d experienced weren’t unique to me, and I wanted to use what I’d learned to help others.

My own firsthand experience in working with a coach — someone completely impartial and non-judgmental with no connection to my family — was much different than talking with a friend, and that’s the type of support I wanted to be able to offer. So I began a training program through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) and became a certified life coach. Since then, I’ve helped multiple clients to find more connection in their relationships by first recognizing and accepting their own feelings.

When we encounter challenges, it’s natural for us to try to come up with ways to make the best of the situation. I’ve learned that there are solutions that lead to a far more positive outcome than that. I’d never given much thought to what my relationships with my young adult children would look like, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much closer we’ve gotten as they’ve shared their thoughts, ideas, goals and experiences with me.

I was able to find new ways of connecting with my dad in the last years of his life that brought us both more joy and comfort than I could ever have imagined. And I supported my mom in making decisions that, thankfully, allowed her to move to a perfectly-sized home without requiring me to take possession of the many things she no longer has space for. Though our relationships have changed, I feel more closely connected to my family than ever.

If you’re ready to experience the same shifts as I did, click the button below and together we’ll explore your goals, uncover what’s really standing in your way, and create a plan to enable you to enjoy the relationships you want.

Jenn Gruber, CPC, ACC, CTDS, ELI-MP


Jenn Gruber, CPC, ACC, CTDS, ELI-MP, received her certification through the nationally-renowned coaching school iPEC (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching). She completed training as a COR.E Transitions Dynamics Specialist and as an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner (ELI-MP), enabling her to administer the ELI assessment . She is recognized as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) by the ICF (International Coaching Federation). She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Communication Arts (double major) from James Madison University.

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