We learn how to pick all the important things — a great college, a suitable career, a reliable car, even a fabulous glass of wine. So why then do we spend so little time learning how to make great choices where our heart is concerned? When it comes to deciding who has the potential to be our life-long companion, the process we go through often looks like a crapshoot. It’s largely based on shear initial chemistry rather than any sort of logical, scientific or heartfelt methodology. We take very little time to investigate if this person is truly a great match for us for our life journey, before giving our hearts and minds over to the idea.
It also seems that the majority of us think relationship skills are supposed to be innate. Studies show marriage education, whether before or after a couple are married, dramatically reduces a couple’s chance of divorce by one-third. However, very few individuals actually seek instruction on the important skills needed for an interpersonal relationship to thrive. When choosing your life partner and deciding to marry them, the ‘autopilot mindset’ is bound to lead you down a rocky road. It's important to pull your head out of the love-chemical induced fog and recognize the importance of refining your skills when it comes to choosing a partner and maintaining a successful relationship.
The whole process begins with introspection. What matters most to you? Whose relationships have you seen that you would like to emulate? Take some time to get a clear vision of what you want in a relationship, and what you want in a partner now and into the future, as you grow with them. The next step is to write down your vision in detail. Review this list and make sure all of the traits you desire could realistically exist in one human being and narrow down, where you can, any physical traits. It's important to stay open minded and realize there is a good chance your perfect partner may not come in the package you had envisioned. Keep in mind that top of your list should be that you and your partner are aligned over core values and share a similar vision of what it means to co-create a lifetime of happiness.
Once you have thought through these issues, you can then start to create a method for selecting the right partner.
- Know your patterns— Start by honestly acknowledging the patterns you have in relationships. What did you pick up from your parents, or your previous relationships? How do those patterns play into your responses to someone else’s actions? This knowledge is key to being your best in your relationship. When you are aware of how your specific attachments, and biological, chemical and communication patterns influence you, it will assist you in no longer being blindly piloted by them. Instead you will be able to better chart your own course, and smoothly navigate your way towards someone whose relationship patterns will work in harmony with yours. Also, try to slow things down if it's a long term arrangement you’re looking for. Physical chemistry often compels us to move faster than we should, and the chemical cocktail produced from great sex will more often than not give us the illusion of a strong foundation for a relationship that may not actually exist yet. This is especially true for women whose emotional existence can seduce them into feelings of romantic love, well before actual love has arrived. Many individuals who rush into relationships may often remain in a ‘better-than-nothing’ relationship long past its expiration date because of the flimsy foundation it was built on originally.
- Know relationships— Are you one of the lucky minority who come from a family with parents who still together? Who share a loving, thriving relationship? If yes, count your blessings for most of us don't have that luxury. Instead we grew up seeing what we wouldn't want in a marriage and not really many clear examples of what works. Who in your world has a good relationship? Even if it's not perfect, what components of their marriage do you admire and hope to someday emulate? Get clear on what matters most to you in a partnership then check in with yourself to make sure it isn't a fairy tale you've dreamt up, but a solid commitment that is based in reality. If you are lacking in good role models, find a few new ones and pick their brains on why their marriage works so well. If need be, research great partnerships online, and read about inspiring couples overcoming adversity to broaden your perspective. Always be clear on what is important for you in a relationship. Do you want to be with someone who enjoys entertaining or would you prefer quiet nights at home cooking together? Important topics to cover before diving into a committed relationship include knowing where they stand on marriage, kids, and what their general vision is for their future. Do they have a realistic game plan? Is financial stability a priority to them? Can you gauge whether or not they are devoted to making your relationship a priority in their life and do you know how they define a successful marriage?
- Know others— We want to be liked so we usually put our best foot forward when we first meet someone new. To a certain extent that means we don’t reveal all of ourselves up front. That is natural and you can assume most people do the same. Unfortunately these masks can make it difficult to get to know the real person for several weeks, months and maybe even years. Your key to long-term success is determined by your choice of a good match early on. Your ability to be tuned into your intuition — using your heart, head and gut as a gauge — during the first three months of dating is crucial. By initially being able to "put someone at ease," you encourage them to more fully show their true selves, and in turn they will reveal their true motives to you more quickly. To put someone at ease you need to be in control of your own thought processes first. Do you have a propensity to make assumptions or cast judgments when you start dating someone new? Those assumptions are most likely not serving your greater purpose of finding a great, long-term partner. This is because when you are interacting with someone, your mirror neurons and spindle cells connect and that internal chemistry manifests in your body language. Whatever is happening in your mind is projected through your facial and body gestures so if you are in a positive upbeat place you will transfer those good feelings to your partner and if you thinking negative thoughts, this can make the person you’re talking to feel uncomfortable and ill at ease. This will only serve to push them away from you rather than draw them close, so it’s important you know yourself well so your capacity to know others is more transparent. Keep Reading...
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