I was recently asked to share my perspective on what I thought mattered in relationships. As we approach 2015 we all have goals and dreams and changes and or improvements in life we want to make. Goals and dreams for the future. A great time for reflecting and considering what area’s you’d like to make improvements with in your own life. Tell me, what are you looking to improve in your life? What do you hope to improve in 2015? For many their relationships are a priority.
How does your relationship currently fair with your partner, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend? Is there room for improvement? Here are some thought starters on the upside, the downside and the difference in relationships for you to consider.
Seeing what’s right
- Love – Unconditional love, loving a person for all that they are the good, the bad and the ugly, embracing all that is light and dark and grey. Loving them in totality for who they are as a human being. Embracing a person for all that they are is unconditional love. (This is not about putting up with a toxic relationship or an abusive situation).
- Accepting them for who they are, accepting them for all that they are regardless of their race, color, creed, height, weight, income level, gender etc. Accepting them for their humanity. Of course we all have free will, to choose who we want to spend time with and who we want to be friends with that comes with choice rather than any bias lack of acceptance for humanity, we all have preference to whom we want to be with, spend time with etc.
- Respecting and appreciating a person for their uniqueness, for their talents, strengths, and weakness, their beauty and flaws. If we look closely we can always find something to honor, to appreciate, to accept, to love and respect about another human being. Appreciating how we are similar, how we are different, we can find things to honor about someone for who they are, a love of their soul, their being and essence.
- Support – Being a supportive partner, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend lets the other person know how much you care about them, you’re valuing their humanity, what matters to them in life, what is important to them. It is respecting the other person’s goals and dreams in life. Being supportive, giving them a compliment, letting them know you encourage their goals and dreams in life.
- Listening – Being heard, validated and listened too is vital. Many women especially we want to feel heard, we don’t want a fix or a solution often we want to be and feel heard, we simply want to express, to know that we have been heard. Not so easy if you find yourself with a partner who talks all the time and does not listen. Or with someone who is always distracted and not present.
- Team – a marriage is teamwork. It’s about two people coming together and pulling together. Not two people pulling in opposite directions. A house divided cannot stand. If you have two people pulling against each other this can be especially difficult.
- Wrong – Being human, is being humble and admitting when we are wrong, saying sorry is healthy. None of us is right all the time. Being sorry and admitting when we goof up is normal. We all make mistakes or do something stupid sometimes, none of us are perfect. Being with a spouse, a partner, boyfriend or girlfriend who insists on always being right is hard. It can cause the other person to feel unheard and shutdown.
- Playfulness – Couples that can play together, stay together! It is so important that you and your spouse, partner can have fun together. Being playful, goofy and silly is awesome! It doesn’t mean you must have the exact same interests or hobbies, it means that you can freely express your playfulness, sense of humor without worrying about upsetting the other person.
- Passion – Keeping the fire alive or re igniting the flames of passion is important to having a healthy marriage.
Seeing what’s wrong
- Constant criticism from a spouse, a partner, girlfriend or boyfriend is unhealthy, over time it can be poison and strip away at the other persons character, dishonoring who they are and that in itself is destructive to their self-concept. Strive and seek for harmony not to destroy. Strive to build up, not to tear down.
- Negativity being on the receiving end of someone who is constantly negative, a person who is always focused on the problem and why things or ideas won’t work and who is unwilling to be a part of the solution or come up with any ideas for a better outcome is taxing and draining leaving one partner feeling drained energetically and feeling alone with the responsibility, shouldering all the burden.
- Blaming – Being with a spouse or partner who is always blaming the other or always blaming everyone around them is hard. It is a denial of their own responsibility, lack of awareness and acceptance of their ownership and responsibility. It’s easier to cast off blame in the other directions rather than take ownership and admit when they are wrong or where they need to step up.
- Parenting a Spouse being a parent to your partner, spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend isn’t your job! It is not your job to teach them what their parents ought to have taught them. It is not your job to teach your spouse discipline, responsibility, how to balance a checkbook or to coach and mentor them. It is not your job to parent the behavior of an unruly teenager that happens to be your partner or spouse.
- Values having similar values in life cause less stress. If you and your partner, spouse has similar values when it comes to child rearing, money, education for example it can mean for smoother sailing coming together on the BIG things. Often stressors come into play when two people have mismatched values on big issues. It’s a matter of what you are willing to compromise, to accept and be okay with or find a work around with. For many differences in values can work and for some it can be a stonewall.
- Right Being with a spouse or partner, girlfriend, boyfriend who insists on being right all the time is hard. Being right all the time can leave you being alone in the long run. If a persons need to be right means more to them than striving for harmony and finding ways to come together this can be disastrous. If their need to always be right and argue for rightness trumps listening to, being open to or understanding of the other person then there is no win. If every discussion is about being right, combative and argumentative then this can leave the other person feeling shut down, not heard and unhappy.
So what IS the difference?
The difference is what are you willing to accept? What are you willing to put up with. What are you willing to work with, compromise for and be with in your relationships? We all have our ideals on what we think, hope for and want in our relationships. The question is, what are we willing to accept? What are we willing to live with? What if our ideals don’t match where we are? What if the gap is so huge between what we have and where we see ourselves, what relationships we feel worthy of having? What if another person’s character is tearing away at yours? What if you and your spouse or partner don’t see eye to eye on major big issues? A problem for one person may not be a problem for another? It’s not about being in a perfect relationship, rather it is about what can you, do you want to live with? Is your relationship magnifying and bringing out the best in you or is it tearing you down and destructive? Does the person you are with honor, love and respect you? Or do they care more about being right? Are you coming together on the important stuff or pulling in opposite directions? What if your spouse or partners negative behavior is sabotaging your good deeds. Maybe they are fearful of your success or feel intimidated by you in some way? Do you feel supported in your relationships or do you find yourself parenting your spouse or partner?
What will it take to improve a relationship? What is your intention AND what are you willing to work with and for?
Only you can decide what is best for you. Seeing things as they are and not worse than they are is a first step as Tony Robbins reminds us. Realizing we cannot change another, we can only focus on being our best, focusing on changing ourselves and being the best we can be. However if at some point you find yourself in a situation where you feel that you are doing and making all the effort, all the attempts to change, to improve, to grow, to compromise and the person you are with is unsupportive, emotionally or physically, spiritually abscent, sitting on the sideline yelling and shouting criticisms then you might just be in the wrong relationship. It might not be worth all your sacrifice. If you feel that you have to change so much and deviate away from who you are to be accepted, to be loved for who you are, your soul then you might be with the wrong person. No one should have to change so much in order to be or feel accepted. Which is why our own self loves, self-acceptance is important. Our need to be liked is important but not as much as our need to be respected for who we are. Respecting ourselves regardless of how other people treat us is key.
You can be the most confident person in the world, have high self esteem, have a healthy self concept yet if you are with a person who constantly criticizes you, puts you down it can erode and eat way and destroy. They say we become like the five people we hang around with.
Who are you spending your time with? Are they contributing towards your internal happiness or does their behavior cause you to feel unhappy. Whilst happiness is internal we generate our own happiness, if we are with someone who is negative, unhappy, complaining and miserable most of the time this can rub off.
When it comes to being right, to being precise it counts in surgery, a persons life depends on it. In relationships, striving toward harmony and ways to come together is more important than a need to be right all the time.
What tips do you have for a successful relationship? What is important for you when it comes to having a successful relationship.