MOST couples will agree that a happy exclusive relationship requires an investment of time and energy. But, all too often, we see many couples become disenchanted if their efforts don’t yield immediate results. They quickly give up, deciding the relationship is too much work.
The happiest couples, however, approach their relationships differently. It is found that the secrets of their successful relationships revolve around certain precepts:
1. GOOD RELATIONSHIPS DON‘T JUST HAPPEN. Most of us grew up believing that love is magical and, ultimately, beyond our control. We don’t “decide” to love - we “fall” in love. But something is asked if love’s rewards are to be sustained. First, we must pay close enough attention to a loved one to genuinely understand his or her desires. Second, we must act on that knowledge. The quality of a relationship depends on the way two people treat each other; in good times and bad. Relationships are never static; they are either growing or in decline Happy couples know that the vitality of their love is their own responsibility. They are active participants in the quest for lasting love.
2. LOVE IS NOT EASILY DESTROYED. Almost all couples secretly fear that their relationship will stagnate and wither. Yet love rarely dies. It only appears to be absent because other feelings have been allowed temporarily to eclipse it. When bad things happen in a relationship; both partners need to protect themselves. Fearing hurt and rejection, they withdraw behind masks of indifference. Couples with good relationships understand, however, that the sweetness will return after the storm. Realizing this, they are able to survive crises that might well pull lesser relationships apart. To put this maxim into action, try to pause during a relational disagreement and remember what you felt for your partner right at the beginning of your relationship. Let your love override all the negative feelings of the moment.
3. MARRIAGE IS NOT A CURE-ALL. The rewards of marriage are so highly praised that people come to believe it is the antidote to salve old wounds, from childhood or former loves. But marriage is not a solution to personal problems. No matter how close your relationship, you and your partner will always be individuals before you are a ‘couple’. When we expect a mate to bolster our egos or compensate for our weaknesses, we are invariably disappointed, and our loved one feels resentful. We alone must take responsibility for our feelings of self-worth. The happiest couples know that for a marriage to last, both partners must first learn to love themselves. Otherwise, they will never feel worthy of another’s love.
4. LOVE IS ACCEPTANCE. Too often, we foolishly believe that love gives us license to remake someone. We try to smooth out our partner’s rough spots, even though in the process we may diminish the very qualities that endear that person to us. It won’t work. Even when a mate seems compliant, he or she will unconsciously resist the pressure to change or conform. Certainly, problems should be negotiated if they are making life intolerable. It may be worthwhile to reconsider the phrase “for better or worse.” It’s there to remind us that we all have shortcomings. Truly happy couples understand that love means accepting a mate’s flaws. They know that a person’s desire to change grows out of a sense of being accepted as be or she is.
5. LOVERS AREN’T MIND-READERS. One of the fantasies of love is that a mate is somehow completely attuned to our innermost thoughts and dreams. When a partner fails to anticipate these, we may feel sad, disappointed, or even betrayed. But it is simply not reasonable to expect a mate to guess what’s on our minds. Men and women who feel understood by their partners know that, ultimately, we are responsible for making ourselves known. When you tell your partner what you need and he or she responds to that request; that is a genuine indication of love.
6. THE BEST RELATIONSHIPS ARE ALWAYS CHANGING. Most of us believe that a solid relationship doesn't alter from year to year. The truth is this that relationships inevitably change, just as individuals do. Couples who encounter the most difficulties are those who stubbornly resist change for fear that their love may not be strong enough to survive. Couples in enduring relationships have the flexibility to greet change with acceptance and a positive attitude. It is important to believe that the love between you and your mate is strong enough, and the trust great enough, to allow each other respect, latitude and room to grow.
7. INFIDELITY POISONS LOVE. “What my partner doesn’t know can’t hurt’ is a flimsy rationale for an affair. Even if it doesn't lead to a break-up, an affair can permanently damage the bond of love because it is a basic violation of the mutual commitment. When we respect our relational exclusivity, we feel comfortable with ourselves. We don’t have to worry about covering our tracks. But when we act dishonestly, we secretly know it and feel devoid of character. And we cannot love another person if we do not love ourselves.
8. LOVE DOESN’T BLAME. Before we commit to another, most of us take life’s lumps in stride. If things go well, we feel it is because we made the right choices. When they don’t, we understand that this, too, is the result of our own actions. - Then we strike up an exclusive relationship. If we are not careful, we begin making our partner the focus of blame: “If I'm unhappy, it’s because of you.” Partners are, unfortunately, the most convenient scapegoats. It’s easier to find fault with what he or she is doing than to examine how we have in fact created our own unhappiness. Such blame is not only unjust but also self-defeating, for it reinforces a sense of personal passivity. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of blaming. Assume a more affirmative posture in your relationship - and in life. The more responsibility you assume for the quality of your life, the happier you - and your partner - become.
9. LOVE IS UNSELFISH. While mature love requires a balance between giving and receiving, spontaneous unselfishness is the essence of love. Real love asks that we put our own needs on bold and respond to our mate’s - not endlessly not unilaterally; but often. In fact we feel more “in love” when giving to a partner than when receiving. Giving is contagious. It encourages reciprocity. Words of caution, however, don’t give to get, for that is unloving. Neither should you give unendingly to a partner who takes advantage of your loving intentions. The happiest relationships are those in which both partners give 100 percent - and receive 100 per cent in return.
In the final analysis, however, the most important rule of love is this: towards both your partner and yourself, behave only in ways that enhance your own self-worth, dignity and integrity. When you feel good about yourself, you possess both the confidence and the personal contentment which are necessary for love to remain truly alive.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:14,16