I have often heard it said that the best partner will compliment you and bring out your finer qualities. When you are with him or her, you will begin to see untapped possibilities within yourself and in the world. However, in any relationship, you will face difficulties and your love will be tested. But if want to attain long-lasting love, it’s important to make intentional choices to be loving to your partner every day.
That said, if your expectations are for an effortless relationship, you might be at risk for throwing in the towel at the earliest sign of any discord. Think of how many good relationships have been discarded before they matured, dismissing a life partner while searching for a soul mate.
The idea of a soul mate is romantic but also damaging because healthy relationships are developed and don’t just appear.
Beth and Thomas, in their late-forties, have navigated many challenges together such as Beth’s trust issues and emotional baggage leftover from her ex-husband’s betrayal. She also grew up in a chaotic home where she couldn’t count on her parents to be there for her because they were focused on their own marital and financial problems.
Beth put it like this: “I didn’t realize how mistrustful I was until I met Thomas. I thought I’d gotten over my past. Thankfully, he’s been very accepting and- reassuring when I go into a tailspin.”
Beth and Thomas’s successful ten-year marriage illustrates how a supportive partner can help you deal with the unpredictable, ever changing aspects of life as your vulnerabilities are exposed and you face challenges, feel emotionally disconnected, or disagree.
In understanding and owning the choice we all have when we form a partnership, make an intention to love your partner fully every day. And remember that we all need new tools or skills to foster a happy, supportive and long-lasting relationship.
Practice the following five strategies daily with your partner. Then plan a special activity to do together each week because weekly rituals foster healthy communication. You may want to modify or add steps to the steps below.
- Offer unconditional loving-kindness to your partner. This includes support and compassion to him or her if they are upset (rather than justifying your position). When you or your spouse are having an argument, find a quiet time and place to talk.
- Seek to genuinely understand your partner’s point of view, without debate, criticism or judgment. If you can’t compromise, attempt to let each other have what they want sometimes, if the issue isn’t a deal breaker for you. Remember that love and caring take time to nurture in any relationship. Assume the best of your partner and they will thrive.
- Do not take things personally when you disagree. Imagine that your partner’s concerns have nothing to do with your character or worth to your partner. Imagine that there are not any threats, assaults, or insults in your partner’s statements. Remember, they’re just speaking about what upsets them, but it doesn’t change your value or worth.
- Accept your partner with all of their flaws, don’t try to change them, and take responsibility for your actions. Life is messy at times. While it’s natural to assign blame when things go wrong, in a healthy relationship partners take responsibility for things they do to hurt each other, apologize, and make amends.
- Turn towards you and (rather than turn away or against). Listen more than you speak. Ask your partner open ended questions about their hobbies, interest, friends, and family. When they have something to share, don’t stare at the computer screen or TV (or ignore turn away from them).
You have it within your reach to create a satisfying relationship and personal happiness. You don’t have to let your past dictate the decisions you make today! Healthy intimate relationships provide couples with a safe place where they can be comfortable speaking out and voicing both positive and negative emotions without fear of negative consequences.
Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Her book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website. Feel free to ask a question here.
Terry’s book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, was published by Sounds True in February of 2020.