A relationship, much like life is a journey and hence it needs to be treated with love and respect on a daily basis. Relating with this person lovingly will keep both of you and people around you happier as they sail this “ship” with you. Whose responsibility is it to maintain a relationship? Is it 50-50? 80-20? In my opinion, each partner has to give 100% in order for a relationship to work. Expecting it to just be “Good” is being naïve, expecting it to be super easy is also unrealistic, it takes work, but you can make the work pleasurable, fulfilling and satisfying.
A real, loving relationship is a partnership of mutual support, mutual pleasure and mutual respect. Relationships are ‘created’ and don’t exist until two people unite in a common purpose. You make a choice to continue to relate with another person in a loving and conducive way so that each of you can meet your life goals and attain personal growth. Dr. Christine Meinecke – Psychologist explains it so aptly, “Infatuation is temporary. Disenchantment happens as soon as infatuation wears out and is inevitable. Marriage cannot succeed without mature love. Mature love is self-responsible. Self-responsible spouses do not try to change their partners. Instead, they focus on managing their own insecurities and dark moods, expectations and reactions.”
You need a common purpose
Make a choice to continue to relate with your partner so that each of you can meet your life goals and attain personal growth. If you have children, then creating a loving environment for them, would be one of the common purposes.
When you know that you want to be with this person more than you want anything else in the world, (for whatever reason), then everything you do for each other and to keep your life together harmonious will come from desire and a true “want” instead of a compulsion or a “have-to”. You will not have anything to complain about.
There is nothing called Perfect Marriage!
How can there be when we are all unique individuals transforming every single day, but finding what works for two to co-exist in harmony and joy is what a healthy relationship is about. Who defines this perfection anyway?
Because you now have a “goal” or purpose which is “to relate with this person lovingly everyday”, the next time your partner pushes your buttons or says something that almost invokes an impulsive reaction, wait and think about that goal.
Respond, don’t react!
“A reaction is automatic, not thought through consequentially, whereas a response is chosen. Between an action and its reaction there is a space, and in that space is the opportunity to choose. (Victor Frankl)
Responding is using that space to make that choice and to do or say what will get you closer to your goal” Choosing to respond in a sensitive manner to the feelings of your partner is a priceless habit to form in order to have a loving relationship. Selfish vs. Selfless All this is different from letting your partner walk all over you.
No one wants to be a doormat, or be involved in a relationship with a pushover. So it is your responsibility to take care of “Number 1” – You.
Being selfish simply means taking responsibility for yourself, which is far more commendable than being a victim and blaming others and your circumstances for your situation. If there is no me, there cannot be a “we”. When you are selfish in this way, only then can the people around you be happy too. Sometimes, you may realize that in fact, “giving” your partner what they want instead of being stubborn about what you want, will often in fact make YOU happy. There is a delicate balance between giving freely and thinking of our own needs. This is the trickiest relationship skill to master, but perhaps the most rewarding.
We are not mind readers
Ask for what you want clearly and allow each other to say ‘no’ without guilt. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind; if you want them to do something, ask them specifically for what you want. Remember that you are two people brought up in different homes and with different habits and values and to assume that the other should KNOW how and what you want is ridiculous. Never assume that anything is common-knowledge.
Only someone who can say No, can make a real promise!
When you are uncomfortable or simply do not want to do something, simply be lovingly firm and say ‘No’. Allow your partner to say ‘no’ without repercussions, too. Even if you are disappointed, accept that you are better off being slightly disappointed than having the person you love lie or pretend to you. A distorted internal link most of us have is to connect the ‘No’ to a request to meaning a ‘No’ to you. We take the rejection personally, which is misplaced.
Infatuation according to Dr. Christine Meinecke, can last nine months to four years – this may vary greatly when they are modern or long-distance relationships. In this stage, partners overestimate their similarities and idealize each other.
Try these Love Strategies as featured in “Don’t Think of a Blue Ball” to help kick-start your relationship after the inevitable end of the infatuation phase.
Think of a time you felt truly and completely like you were being loved.
Was it something you heard, saw or felt?
A couple, John and Jane went in to see a hypnotist for some marriage counseling. They were feeling like they had lost the magic in their relationship and they were a couple that were once “madly in love” with each other. So the Hypnotist asked John first to think of a time when he felt like he was truly and completely being loved.
“Think of a time, perhaps in your childhood”
Was it something you heard being said to you? A touch? A gesture?”
John answered that he felt loved when –
- He heard the words, “I love you John”. He loved hearing his own name being uttered out loud.
- He also felt loved when someone cooked a nice meal for him, when he knew that the woman he adored, cared enough to go to the shops, buy ingredients, chop, marinate and spend time and effort in the kitchen for the sheer pleasure of satisfying his palate.
- When someone ran their hands through his scalp, his hair. Almost scratching with nails, through the top of his head, the neck, the sides of his head, he felt cared for, nurtured, loved…adored.
Jane was asked the same question and she said that she felt truly loved when –
- She heard the words “You are so beautiful, Jane” whispered in her ear. Her name being said to her made her feel loved.
- When she was given thoughtful gifts, flowers or chocolate, basically when someone spent their precious time and money on her. She wanted to know that they were willing to give up something precious to make her feel good.
- When she was held firmly around her waist and kissed on her neck, especially from behind her. Her waist is a pressure point that made her feel sexy, feminine, beautiful and desirable.
When either of them felt, saw or heard these things, they were like “buttons” being pushed which made them feel loved. When they first met, as most new loves, both were randomly doing everything for the other as you do in the early stages of a relationship. This, as Dr. Meinecke describes is during the early honeymoon stage of the relationship where people are quite infatuated and would do almost anything for each other, including watching movies that don’t really interest us.
So, by default, they happened to press the right buttons as well, unknowingly, of course, like a child pressing all the floors in the elevator and hitting the right floor in the process.
So, by “mistake” John was holding Jane’s waist facing her, from behind her, he was holding her hip too and her shoulder too, but he got the waist sometimes, just like even a broken clock gets the time right twice a day!
Jane too was hitting the spots when she ran her hands through John’s scalp and his back and arms as well, she too like the clock, got it right a few times a day.
The thing though is that after a relationship gets over the honeymoon stage, we humans tend to become comfortable and then we relax and revert to either not pressing buttons, or maybe pressing our own “buttons” on our partners.
So what was happening in John and Jane’s case is that, of late, both of them were “missing the spot”
Care enough to Press the right buttons
Think about having an itch on your back and having your hands tied up holding a heavy box in front of you, and you ask your partner to scratch it for you and they just can’t seem to scratch the itch, missing it by centimeters all the time! This can be very frustrating!!!! Dr. Meinecke refers to this stage as the “Disenchantment” stage and the focus in on what is wrong with each other, perhaps even questions like, did I make a mistake?
If you knew how easy and almost effortless it would be to make the person you love feel good, wouldn’t you just do it? Especially when you were aware of the good feelings it would invoke in the other and therefore infuse back to you?
It sounds so easy and almost mechanical, but it is so effective and not doing it is so detrimental to the relationship. Yes it will take a little time, and effort on your part, but isn’t that what being in a relationship is about?