Today's world gives so much coverage to all of the ups and downs, break-ups and make-ups of the people we deem celebrities. All of this media coverage seems to tell us that it’s okay change partners with the seasons or to fall in love with someone new every time your job changes. Making a relationship last is work but I’m here to tell you that it is worth it.
I am a firm believer in healthy, loving, supportive relationships. I know that these relationships are the ones that last for the long haul and have partners that are happy and committed. If you want to strengthen the chances that your marriage is going to be around for many years to come, you're going to have to work at it. Here are seven ways you and your partner can ensure that you're off to an excellent start!
This should be a no brainer but unfortunately people are still marrying for reasons that have nothing to do with love. Yes, it is possible to grow to love someone even if that love is not present at the outset. However, it is important that love grows. Whether from the beginning or developed over time, love must be present for marriage to have the best chance. Genuine love is the best basis for respect and mutual respect is crucial for a happy marriage. Love and respect act as a safeguard helping both parties to think before they act: how might this action be perceived and received by my sweetie? Love and respect reminds us that we don’t want to do anything that will hurt our beloved.
Hand in hand with love and respect is genuine acceptance of who each partner is. I recently saw one of those picture quotes on Facebook that reminded us to fall in love with the person, not the person's potential. This could not be truer. We are all works in progress. Hopefully we never stop growing and evolving. However, we are all also perfect in our imperfection. Our love for our partner should be because of who they are right now. I am loved for me: overweight, graying, opinionated, reformed control freak that I am and I give that right back to my husband. Is it possible for us to change? Absolutely. Is it a deal breaker if we don’t? Certainly not.
When your relationship is built on acceptance of the person as they are, there can be no resentment when they don’t live up to "their potential." If your honey never develops those six pack abs, or loses those 20 pounds, it’s no problem. True knowledge and acceptance of who your partner is defines real intimacy or into-me-you-see. It creates for both of you a level of safety that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
Your set of core values is what determines how you view the world around you. Your core values tell you whether a given event or set of circumstances is okay with you or not. Your core values are the reason that you meet some people and connect with them, while other people you just can't seem to do so. We all have a set of core values that we operate from; sometimes we are not really aware of what they might be. While your value set and your partner's do not have to be identical, they should have some correlation. The ones that are critical to both of you should be similar. At the very least you both should have similar values around fidelity, honesty, family. Whether or not they are important is not significant as long as you agree.
These shared values form another cornerstone in the foundation of your relationship. They will help prevent the kinds of conflicts that often tear relationships apart. If you have never thought about your values, now is a good time. Understanding each other's value sets can be a big help in understanding reactions to different situations or differing methods in problem solving.
What are healthy boundaries? They are what tells you that enough is enough. They are the limits that YOU set on bad behavior. When someone crosses them likely the little hairs on the nape of your neck stand up or you get some other creepy feeling. You and your partner need to be familiar with each other's boundaries. Once familiar, you both also need to be respectful of them. If you have done the work in determining your value set, you should have some clues to where your boundaries are. Take a look at the values you have. Which would you consider to be deal breakers? These are things you absolutely won't tolerate. These are also good indicators of your boundaries. For me, honesty and respect are crucial. If you cross the boundary of honesty with me by lying it will forever change any relationship I have with you.
Having boundaries based on your value set is healthy. They help you set standards for acceptable behavior. It is likely that when shared or similar values exist between two partners, shared or similar values will exist also. Become familiar with and/or develop your own boundaries and work with your partner to do the same. Knowing and respecting each other’s boundaries will add another layer of strength to your relationship.
Do you know what you want out of life? Where you see yourself in the next 5, 10, 20 years? What about your partner? Are your dreams of the future in alignment? If you are just starting out, have you discussed things like children and child rearing? If you are already past that point, have you discussed your future together and how you plan to make it happen? Often couples just drift along assuming that with love these things will take care of themselves. Sometimes they do. However, all too often a couple finds themselves after a number of years at a place where they realize that their goals or vision for their relationship were vastly different.
Discussing your relationship vision helps you to find any differences and allows you to find ways to work through them so that the outcome is something you both can live with. Having this dialogue early allows you to resolve issues before they become a catalyst for conflict. Discuss your financial goals as well. It is well known that arguments over money can cause real damage in a relationship. These can be touchy issues to tackle, but it is so worth having the discussion to work them out before the emergency arises. Remember that each of you is an individual as well. You will each have your own dreams and goals. Be as supportive of each other as possible. Allow each other the space and safety to grow and dream within your union. Keep Reading...
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