What is the Secret to Enjoying a Long-lasting Relationship?
Are you in a relationship with its 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?
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 classic comedy couples--Lucy and Ricardo (I Love Lucy); Alice and Ralph Kramden (Honeymooners). We love watching comedic couples interact because we 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's 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
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."
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?
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
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 others foibles--needs to play a central role in how we interact with ourselves as well as each other.
Secret #3: Ask Yourself--Do You Want it to Work?
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 you want it to work out?'
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--accept your immediate gut response to the question 'do I want it to work'. Stop overwhelming yourself with added 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 desires and feelings today.
Are you in or getting into a relationship now? What's your answer for today? Do you want it to work?
If YES, get out there and 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 33 Years of Making it Work
Today's post is in honor of the love of my life, Mark Gibbons, who 33 years ago was brave enough to ask the question, 'Do I want it to work?' I made an excellent choice for a life partner. He is the right one for me to work through difficulties. We're still working it!
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For more than 35 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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