I married my first boyfriend. We divorced. I had one boyfriend a couple of years later. We broke up. Then I dated and married my third boyfriend. We are now divorced. I have always wanted to have a good partner in life and I gave my all to those relationships. I have since dated a lot.
I have been reading books on relationships for decades. My first degree was in ministry and I studied about relationships to help couples planning to get married. I later became a life coach and have held space for couples of all ages trying to come to new agreements on how to be together in a way that serves both. Due to my 100 percent failure rate in finding my soulmate thus far, you might not trust my advice, and that is fair. I hear you. I am going to share my humble thoughts anyway.
Here is what I believe is required to hold a couple together, not just to survive the relationship, but to thrive and grow all along the way.
1. Shared core values. In order to know you have these in common as a couple , it is best to figure out what yours are on your own first. What really matters to you? The right partner will have some of these in common. That will become the foundation of your shared mission in life.
2. Civil Communication. Make time for communication that is productive. Create safe space to discuss money, how to raise kids, how you really want to loved, what goals you hope to achieve, your joys, and your anxieties. When you fight, and good fights are needed, don’t call each other names or use, what one counselor called “gunpowder” words. These words are “never” and “always” to describe your partner. These words are too absolute and they shut down the opportunity for growth or change. Instead use language like, when this happened I felt…., and What I really want is…., and How do you feel about that? The best communication partners know how to also listen to each other. Listen to listen and not just to respond. Good communication is honest, vulnerable, and respectful. It propels a relationship forward and deeper.
3. Be buyers not renters. Commitment is hard but if there is no commitment there is really no reason to hold on and work on a relationship. The commitment makes the work worth it. Are you in or out? Yes or no? If yes you are in, be all in.
Be all in.
Have your partner’s back. Invest in your relationship with the same dedication you give to your job, raising kids, and managing money. Some people take better care of detailing their cars than they do to their marriages. Go to your partner first with your relationship issues. Seek professional help if needed. Be loyal. I have male and female friends, but when I am in a relationship, my male friends are no longer my confidants at the same level. Your partner should be your best friend. I am not saying you drop all of your friends, but it is easy for other people to move in on sacred spaces that should be for you and your partner. If you are going to leave, don’t just run to someone else on the rebound. Take some time to reflect on what went wrong. Get clear on what you really want so you can find it.
Those are my thoughts on relationships.
Now on to us single folks…
Some of us are working on ourselves to figure out what we are looking for.
Some of us kind of know what we want but have not found a person that lights our fire.
Some of us feel done.
If you are single, may you be blessed like me to have friends that are like family, people in your life that inspire you, people that make you laugh your ass off, people that will hold space for you in down times, and people that will cheer your successes. While single, invest in those relationships with friends and family. Maybe leave a little corner of your heart open to the possibility of a meaningful romantic adventure in the future. If you are dating, keep a good sense of humor. You might be kissing some frogs for a bit but you will live through this. It will be funny later.
I think the whole point of being here is love, so single or partnered, have a great Valentine’s Day. Love all the people that matter in your life. Love yourself and be a light.
Here is one of my favorite Ted Talks on love. Hope you will enjoy it, too.