Marriage is serious. In todays throw away society, you need to learn the secrets.
After being together with my wife for 32 years and married for 26 years; coupled with successful marital coaching of many couples during my 25 years of practice, has led me to some major distinctions.
In today's throwaway society it is far too easy to abandon ship and move on. While sometimes moving on is the absolute right thing to do, sometimes staying together and working things out should prevail.
Relationships, like everything in life ebb and flow. The new and exciting hormonal excitement that you get week one is different but still great 5, 10, 15, and 25 years later. My experience both personally and professionally has taught me to know specifically what you are looking for, go slow and don't mistake hormones for love.
Ok so you are looking of that perfect someone, what should you do. The first thing and don't laugh is to literally write down a list so you know specifically the traits of the person that you are looking for. Writing the traits down is extremely powerful because it lets the universe know which will allow the Laws of Attraction to start helping you. Be honest with yourself and be specific.
How tall is he? What color eyes, hair, socioeconomic background, and type of job does he have? Does she smoke or drink? Does she take illicit drugs? Does he like movies, plays, shopping and the beach? Does he always want to go out and party? Is her personality warm, inviting, and attractive? Does he get along with your family? Does his family get along with you? Is he good in bed? Does she want to do it as often as you do? Be specific and literally write down everything that you can think of.
Next step is to prioritize the list. Since life is about give and take it is always best to know what you will give up and tolerate in advance, rather than having to make a decision when you are caught up in the heat of the moment. Let me give you an example. Let’s say that a smoker is a total turn off and there is no way that you will be with a smoker. You also would prefer a red-head to a blonde. Now you meet someone who is a red-headed smoker. Since you decided that you could never be with a smoker in advance move on immediately. I promise there will be a perfect red-headed non-smoker out there. Now you may be asking, but what if they quit when they found out that smoking is not tolerable to me? My answer to that is simple. Why start a relationship on shaky ground. Smoking is an addiction that he or she may not be able to stop. While the intention may be there, the addiction may be stronger; or the person may quit for you in the beginning of the relationship and 9 months later decides that they miss it and go back. My point is give your relationship the best opportunity to succeed based on the list of criteria that you make ahead of time. Proper planning for anything is essential.
A question that I am asked frequently in practice is “they meet all of my criteria but I just don’t feel it, what should I do?” Is feeling it a top priority? If so, then the same as the smoking example move on now before you invest time, and feelings into a relationship that is destined for unfulfillment.
So now you have found what you believe is the perfect person for you. What do you do next? Go slow. If a relationship is meant to be, believe me it will stand the test of time. My wife and I met when we were in high school. When you are 17, how the hell are you supposed to know what you want out of a mate? Everyone told us that we would break up at least once during our courtship; but it never happened. I knew after one month that she was the right one for me. It took my wife a whole lot longer for me to grow on her though.
All kidding aside, I knew that I was going to have 8 years of school before me. Even at 17, I was practical. We decided that we would wait to get married until I finished school. If the relationship was going to be, then it could and should be able to survive anything and this would be a major test. Think back to when you were 19 and 20 years of age. What did you want to do? PARTY!! I couldn’t party though, I was stuck behind an organic chemistry book. My then girlfriend graduated from college, got her first job, had money to spend and was at an age where she wanted to PARTY, and rightfully so. What did we do? Most nights she watched me study and other nights she went out with friends to a bar, or dance club.
Now here’s a recipe for disaster, 19 year old hormones, alcohol, sweaty hot guys dancing, money in her pocket and visions of her boring boyfriend at home studying with no end in sight for 6 years. So what did we do? We both had mutual trust and respect for each other. I never thought for a minute that she would cheat on me and she never thought for a minute that I was jealous. If our relationship was going to survive, we had to give each other our needed space with the full trust and faith of our relationship.
I often hear,”yeah doc but things are different today.” My answer is simple; “no, things are not different today” the same ingredients of a successful relationship have been around since the beginning of time. The rules can be found in this simple list:
1. Value the other person
2. Listen to the other person
3. Shower them with love and affection
4. Tell them many times that you love them and are grateful for them
5. Laugh together
6. Love together
7. Make mundane things fun
8. Write each other love notes, bring flowers, open car doors
9. Don’t forget birthdays, anniversaries and holidays
10. Even if you hate his family, give in an suck it up
11. Look to help your mate (take out the garbage, do the dishes)
12. Make decisions together
13. Be willing to compromise
14. Try and do what the other person asks (put the toilet seat down, cap the toothpaste)
15. Be honest
16. Don’t cheat
17. Tell the other person what is bothering you and what they can do to help
18. Be there in mind, body, and spirit for your mate
19. Don’t ever say disparaging words about your mate to others even in jest
20. Appreciate what he/she does for you and for your family
21. Be a role model for your kids
22. Be someone that your mate is proud of
23. Ask for his/her help
24. Give help freely
25. Don’t nag
26. Don’t give advice unless it is asked for
27. Complement each other often
28. Be proud of your mate
30. Hug and kiss often
31. Let each other be their own person
32. Allow time for activities done apart
33. Allow for girls night and guys night out
34. If you don’t like the others friends, then tolerate them anyway
35. Be helpful
I know this list seems like I put on my Pollyanna glasses. Feel free to add your own ingredients to the list. Before you laugh and dismiss the concept, go over the list 3 times. If you are in a struggling relationship, take a count of all the things that you are not doing on the list. If you are in a fantastic relationship, take an accounting of all the things that you are doing. I promise you, this list will hold up until the end of time.
What about aging relationships? The 35 tenets above should never change. While your looks, physical abilities and mental faculties may diminish over time, the bonds of your relationship don’t have to. When I got married, my hair was full and down to my shoulders. Now, have you seen my picture lately? It doesn’t take me long to get my six hairs cut. My wife still loves me even though I don’t look the same. Why because those 35 traits are etched in stone. While my wife is lucky and still looks the same as she did when we got married, even if she didn’t it wouldn’t matter to me because those 35 traits are etched in stone.
When to move on is a difficult question to deal with. I am a firm believer that if you follow the suggestions in this article the need to divorce and move on will be greatly minimized. The advice that I offer my clients is simple. If you know in your heart that this is never going to work, and you really don’t want to work at it, then moving on is your best course. If you choose divorce, splitting amicably is so much better and easier in the long run. While he broke your heart by cheating on you and you want to get him back is how you feel, you would be best off checking your revenge and anger at the door. Divorce as amicably as you can, grieve the loss, and move on as quickly as you can.
My experience in life, business, coaching, and treating sick patients has taught me that proper planning in ANYTHING is the recipe to success. Nothing is a guarantee, but you want to stack the cards in the favor of your success as much as possible. When looking for that perfect relationship, take the time and employ the suggestions in this article. You have nothing to lose except a poor relationship.