Practical wisdom about dating, courtship, and relationships to improve your love life.
My parents recently had their 57th wedding anniversary. Like every long-term couple, they’ve had their ups and downs on the roller coast of love. Over the years, they've grown closer and seem happier. I asked them the secret to their success and their initial response was, "There’s no secret." When I dug deeper, I discovered that theirs is the best kept secret that everyone knows about. Their secret principles below are simple to understand yet difficult to live.
Call me an eternal optimist, but I think if more couples practiced these principles, long-term relationships and marriages could be the norm.
There is no perfect partner My parents said, “There’s no perfect person in this world.” Even if you think someone else is more perfect than your partner, that person will have their limitations. It’s a trade off. You trade one partner’s faults for another partner’s faults.
What does this really mean? There is the illusion that the grass is always greener. When we meander into a greener pasture and the initial greenness wears off, we’re essentially left with the same cow sporting different spots. For instance, if we’re bored in our relationship and think the person we’re with is boring, we may leave to find someone who is exciting. Once the newness wears off, we’re left with another boring relationship. Are you continually unfulfilled and bored in your relationships? If “yes” is your answer, now is a good time to do some inner reflection.
What’s the lesson? When we’re dissatisfied with whom we are and where we’re at in life, we tend to project it onto our partner. In the instance above, think of the times when you’ve been bored with your partner. Was your own life filled with passion and excitement at that time? Did you feel fulfilled with your own life? Or were you expecting that to come as a result of being with your partner? It’s not our partner’s responsibility to bring excitement and fulfillment to us. Seeing where you’re bored in your own life gives you the opportunity to create excitement and fulfillment in your own life. When you feel excited and fulfilled on the inside, it will show up on the outside. And when it does, you’ll notice that the grass is always greener no matter which side of the pasture you’re on.
Divorce is not an option My parents said, “Some of our friends regret getting divorced, saying that their life has not necessarily been better after their divorce.” We’re a throw-away society where instant gratification prevails. We don’t value things and people like we used to. Good relationships get discarded simply because people don’t have the patience and determination to work things out. People are more likely to seek chemistry in another relationship than to work through a compatible relationship that’s been neglected.
What does this really mean? When we experience ongoing challenges with our partner, we may imagine life to be better after a break-up or divorce. While this may be true, many relationships can be saved and become stronger. Challenging times may simply be an opportunity for us to strengthen parts of ourselves and the relationship we’ve neglected. Overcoming adversity together results in a deeper, richer and more meaningful connection.
What’s the lesson? Leaving relationships with unresolved issues is a sure way to repeat the patterns that caused your break-up or divorce in the first place. If you’re thinking about breaking up with or divorcing your partner, what’s causing you to think this? Contemplate this with judgment-free awareness so that your mind and heart stay open to clearly seeing the truth. Is it a good relationship that has been neglected? Or an unhealthy relationship that will never work no matter what you both do? It’s important to get clear on the reasons. This helps you do the inner work so that you can move forward in the best possible way.
Forgive your partner My parents said, “Everyone makes mistakes.” People are quick to blame and slow to forgive. We tend to see things from our perspective. We want to be right. And we hold onto our hurts. If we can understand our partner’s perspective, we would forgive more and not take things so personally.
What does this really mean? Many things that our partners say or do to upset or hurt us are not done consciously. They may be lashing out based on an experience from their past that caused them similar painful feelings. Until these painful feelings are resolved, the past will continue to be brought into the present. Be a compassionate person. Seek first to understand your partner’s perspective so that you can respond accordingly instead of reacting harshly.
What’s the lesson? It’s not personal. Most things we perceive to be “done” to us are about the other person projecting their unresolved issues onto us. However, if what they do or say triggers your negative emotions to a high degree, you may have unresolved issues that are deeply rooted from childhood. What’s your partner said or done that’s triggered a negative response from you - a response that’s out of proportion to the situation? This is your opportunity to resolve these issues and break the pattern of non-forgiveness.
Apply the lessons from these three principles to your relationship and experience a more fulfilling and meaningful connection with your partner.
What are your secret principles for success in a long-term relationship or marriage?
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Copyright Love for Successful Women, 2020.