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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How Do I Know if He's the One? 3 Secrets to a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship

 'A loving heart is the truest wisdom' Charles Dickens

What is the Secret to Enjoying a Long-lasting Relationship?
  • Are you in a relationship with it's ups and downs? Do you wonder if you have what it takes to make your relationship last?
  • How do you know if it's worth investing time in a new relationship or mending a long-standing one?
  • After facing difficult times in the relationship, how do you even know if you want to continue in the relationship?

What a Happy Relationship isn't...Conflict-free

'Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can't sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can't sleep with the window open'. George Bernard Shaw

If you think a conflict-free relationship is the key to a long-lasting happy partnership you're barking up the wrong tree. 

All happily married couples have a good amount of 'bark' in their relationship. It's what puts the heat, or bite, into the relationship.  Look at Lucy and Ricardo (I Love Lucy); Alice and Ralph Kramden (Honeymooners); and Bert and Ernie (Sesame Street). We love watching these comedic couples interact because we can relate to their conflicts and differences.

Truth is we all have negative thoughts and feelings about our partners. It's natural. Over time our differences arise and the rose-colored glasses come off letting those petty annoyances surface. But there is something about happy, long-lasting relationships that makes them withstand the test of time and trouble.

Secret #1: Happily Married Couples Keep the Negative from Overwhelming the Positive

'The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech.'  George Bernard Shaw

According to Dr. John M Gottman, author of 'The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work' and professor of psychology at the University of Washington and co-founder and director of the Gottman Institute, what can make a marriage or partnership work is surprisingly simple.

'In their day-to-day lives, happily married couples have hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other (which all couples have) from overwhelming their positive ones.'

People in healthy, long-lasting relationships deal with the same garden variety issues that people who break up do. The difference is those in healthy lasting relationships find a way to maintain an overall positive feeling to their relationships despite the negative thoughts and feelings that naturally arise over time.

This isn't to say you should always work through conflict and stay together at all costs. It provides a measuring stick for you to consider. 

How do you create a dynamic in your relationship to allow the positive to over-ride the negative? 

If only one of you works to keep your negative thoughts and feelings about the other from overwhelming your positive ones it won't work--'it takes two to tango'--and 'you can't push a river uphill'. 

Don't be afraid of conflict and run away at the first sign of it--look for ways to put conflict in perspective. Instead of viewing a 'fight' as an ending, use it to create a new beginning to better communication. 

Secret #2: Turn Passion into Compassion   

If we are to live with the differences and annoyances found in our partners we must expand passion to have compassion for one another.

In a happy union, love does make the world go round, but what love looks like over time changes. Family counselor, Gary Strait, noted that while relationships may initially be based on passion, if we are to continue to live with the differences and annoyances found in each other we must expand passion to have compassion for one another.

The longer we're in relationship together, the more acceptance, forgiveness, understanding--and perhaps a sense of humor about each other's foibles--needs to play a central role in how we interact with ourselves as well as each other.  

Secret #3: Ask Yourself--Do I Want it to Work?

There is no subject on which more dangerous nonsense is talked and thought than marriage. George Bernard Shaw

Before you tie the knot, and whenever you deal with upsets in the relationship along the way there is one question you can pose to yourself that cuts through all the layers between you and knowing what to do--'Do I want it to work?' 

You'll know the answer immediately. If you want the relationship to work out you must do whatever is needed to make it work. Your pride, anxiety, anger, or hurt feelings getting in the way will fall by the wayside once you know you want the relationship to work. It will bring you to the negotiation table faster.

When you are in the throes of a new relationship--trust your immediate gut response to the question 'do I want it to work'. Stop overwhelming yourself with expectations and responsibilities for the relationship ('I think she's more into the relationship long term than I am'). You are simply trying to get clear about your current desires and feelings--should I stay or go?

If big red flags come up--don't swish them away--pay attention to what your street-savvy reptilian brain is telling you. Get out and move on! The ultimate secret to maintaining a happy, long-lasting relationship is to choose wisely upfront. It's not good enough to say 'I love him.' You can love someone who isn't good for you.
Are you in or beginning a relationship? Do you want it to work? 
If your answer is NO--get out and move on.
If you want it to work, strive to create more fun and meaningful times with one another. Find a way to enjoy and make a constructive use of your differences. Move into that place of allowing the good times to roll....

'To get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with.' Mark Twain

A Tribute to 32 Years of Making it Work 

In honor of the love of my life, Mark Gibbons, who 32 years ago was brave enough to ask the question, 'Do I want it to work?' I made an excellent choice for a life partner. We're still working it!

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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before. 

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Jean | said...

Congratulations to you and Mark! This is one of my favorite posts. And your Shaw quote is one I've never seen: 'The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech.' George Bernard Shaw -- that made me laugh out loud!

Dee Perez said...

Congratulations to you and Mark! 32 years is amazing. This was a great post.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Jean--I love George Bernard Shaw! That quote made me laugh too! Such a curmudgeon!

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Thanks, Dee! You have a pretty good one too! Happy B'day.