We live in a microwavable society. If there's nothing we like on our favorite TV channel, we have the luxury of turning through 200 other channels. If nothing is on TV, we can turn on the Internet and view our favorite social media sites. And if we're still not happy, there's always the radio station and so on and so on. Relationships are the exact same way. If we meet someone we don't like right away or marry someone who doesn't make our "toes curl," we usually throw the "fish" back in the water hoping for a better catch on another day. And we wonder why we're always so single.
We have become so accustomed to getting what we want when we want it that we've started to treat relationships the same way. If someone says something to us we don't like, we immediately end the interaction. I see so many great relationships end because he or she misinterpreted the text message or said something hurtful on a phone call. Or even because your partner left the top off the toothpaste!
Interestingly enough, I ran into an older gentleman who had been married for 30 years to his spouse. I could tell he sincerely loved her because as he was talking about her he was blushing with joy. I'm always curious about how people stay together in marriage so I asked him what he felt was the key to the longevity. He said one word, "commitment!" He further explained that people don't stay together the way his generation and the previous generations did and that's why there is a higher divorce rate in modern times. "Divorce was not an option for us," he said, like it is for the younger generations.
So that got me to thinking deeply about my own relationship and the relationships of my friends, family and clients. Maybe he's right. Maybe we really don't take the time to get to know our spouses and our mates long enough to have a long term relationship with them. Every day can't be sunny or else we would never learn and grow with each other.
Lord knows there are days where we feel like giving up on our spouses and mates. The person says something hurtful to you, rejects you in some way or is inconsiderate of your feelings and we're "out the door." What's interesting is that the person may not have even known they hurt you. All of a sudden that person is on the chopping block to you and the relationship is over before it even got started.
I believe the key to having or beginning a great relationship is to begin to love people unconditionally. Yes, there are times where the person is just not a good match for us and we must move on to find the happiness we deserve. But there are so many other relationships that could be wonderful if we would only give it a little more time to develop.
Below are just a few simple things to consider before you give up on that relationship:
- What is it that I want out of the relationship? This is a time for you to be honest about what you really want out of the relationship that you are not getting. This could be more quality time, more help around the house, a deeper relationship, etc. Once you think about what you want in that relationship, then communicate it to your partner. Many times, the person doesn't even know what you want. You break up over other things that had nothing to do with the actual issue at hand.
- Is there a possibility that I am not happy with myself rather than my partner? Before you blame any of the issues in your relationship on your partner, make sure the issue isn't with yourself. Even if you're married, you still need a life! There are times when we're either not happy with who we have become in life or how our lives are going and we project that on our partners which isn't very fair to them. Take a deep, hard look at yourself before you throw away a perfectly good relationship.
- List the good and bad qualities with your mate and compare the two lists. Making a list of the good and bad qualities in your mate allows you to have an objective view of that person. In other words, what are the things you like and the things you don't like about your partner? Then make a comparison between the two lists. Are the likes more than the dislikes? If your partner has more qualities that you like, focus on those qualities more so than the bad ones. If there are more things you don't like about your partner, is it possible to communicate those issues to your partner? One tip is to identify a theme with those qualities you don't like and communicate this to them in a manner they can handle (aka nicely!).
- What would you do if a break up wasn't an option? Divorce was not an option for the older generations so they had to stay together despite any storms they had in their relationships. In the process, they had to dig deep in themselves and work through their own issues to be able to relate to their spouses properly. Ask yourself is there something you can do to create harmony with your mate or spouse? Usually, when we begin to change ourselves, our partners can only follow. When we have worked on our own issues and are able to love our spouses unconditionally, miracles happen.
As I said, not all relationships are meant to last a long time. But then there are others, where if the couple had the right tools and resources at their disposal, the relationship could really be a success. Even if you're single and dating, you may be able to save time and effort with the idea of commitment in mind. You won't fall into the category of "serial dating" because you'll have spent enough time with the person to ensure you have adequate information to make a good decision. Nevertheless, if I can save one great relationship from the pitfalls of a break up, then I've done my job! And hopefully, made a few babies and memories in the process!
Thanks for reading!
If you happen to live in the Baltimore-DC metro area, please do inquire about my upcoming workshops. The next workshop series will be held on Sept 13th in Columbia, Maryland. If interested, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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