Fairy tales and love stories feed us fantasies of perfect “happy ever after” relationships. But, in reality, we see unhappy, unhealthy relationships all around us. Is it even possible that you can make a relationship last forever?
It is possible if you choose wisely, work hard, and you both remain committed to making it work. Working with couples, I have seen the deep longing that people have for being seen, heard and understood. Both partners long for it so much that it gets in the way of each one seeing, hearing and understanding their partner. Is that perhaps true in your case, too?
How can you make your relationship last forever?
First, rather than asking, “How can I make a relationship last forever? Ask, “How can we create a love that lasts forever?” Do you see the positive shift in this language?
Here are five other shifts that will help you promote a long-lasting relationship:
Shift “I can change him” into “I love him warts and all.” It’s a fairy tale to kiss a frog and change him into a perfect prince. When you commit to someone, you’re accepting him as he is. To manipulate, cry and pout because he doesn’t live up to your unrealistic expectations is dishonest. That’s why it’s so important to know yourself before ever beginning a relationship. Only then will you recognize the right partner for you.
If you’re already in a relationship, it’s never too late to learn to appreciate and wholeheartedly accept each other as you are. I love how Thomas Merton describes this:
“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
Shift “I’m not getting what I want and need” into “I give without any strings attached.” Expecting to get more than you give is a poor foundation for any relationship. Give for the sheer joy of giving. Delighting each other makes love grow.
Shift “My dream” into “Our shared vision”. We all need to have dreams. To pursue a relationship when you’re stuck on only “my dream,” will make you feel trapped, frustrated, and resentful. Look for someone who has the same vision as you do, so you can build on it, while allowing you both to achieve your most important individual dreams.
Shift “I can’t talk to him about THAT!” into “We hold sacred our intimate secrets.” It takes vulnerability and trust to open up to each other. You earn trust by keeping intimate things private. You don’t run off to tell mom, sisters, or friends what your man’s weaknesses or insecurities are. It’s between you and him alone. And you don’t hold it against him. You see it as an opportunity to step up and supportively add what he lacks.
Shift “He’s not the man I married” into “We’re growing together.” It’s inevitable that you both will change. When you’re committed to growing together, you allow each other space to explore and develop. You can freely express feelings, needs, hopes and dreams. You support each other, not being afraid of where the change will take you, because you’re in the journey together and that’s exciting!
Conflicts and disagreement are bound to happen. If you haven’t learned to feel safe in these situations, you may take them as a sign you shouldn’t be together. But it’s actually a sign that you don’t have the right skills to overcome those moments…yet.
Repair is the most important step to disagreement. You can learn to resolve and deepen your relationship by following my Three Steps to Personal Responsibility in Relationships:
- I am responsible for understanding myself – my wants, needs and values;
- I am responsible for verbalizing that understanding to you;
- YOU are responsible for co-creating with me a relationship where I feel safe to speak my truth. (This helps both parties to take responsibility for their part in the relationship.)
Having been married for almost 26 years, I understand that cultivating a healthy relationship takes a lot of work. Both parties need to be interested in growing personally and updating old familial patterns that aren’t useful anymore.
Sometimes you can get stuck. I get that. I’m here to help you get past that and gain more clarity. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). If you want something in your relationship to change, that change must begin with you.