I was in a relationship for several years but not any more. After some time of understanding about what worked and what did not, coupled with generous doses of self-reflection, there are some things I have come to understand more deeply than before.
All relationships are complex and need work (that is why fairy tales end with ‘Happily ever after’ and few, if any, talk about what happens after that euphoria).
Should I ever have the good fortune to be in a relationship again, these are some things I would share deeply with my partner.
1.We would realise that we cannot and should not aim to change each other. Instead, we would be true to ourselves, recognise that we love each other and accept each other as we are, warts and all
2. We would listen more and talk less. Mark Twain said it best. “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt”.
3. We would give our hearts more and judge less, or not at all
4. We would always review our beliefs and remove our prejudices, so that we could decide what to keep and what sacred cows should be scrapped.
5. There are no victors or losers when a relationship breaks down. Nobody is 100 per cent right, or 100 per cent wrong, and all fights to prove who is right (with some exceptions) waste precious time.
6. Before and during the relationship, even during the good years, we would meet with a counsellor or therapist. It is often too late when a troubled couple visit a counsellor when their relationship is in trouble. Sharing with a counsellor or trusted family friend helps open lines of communication, build trust and helps stockpile emotional deposits in the relationship bank. These will come in very handy when the tough times come, and come they will.
7. We would set aside at least one date night every week just meet up and chill together.
8. We would set aside a time and place every week to review our relationship and direction and seek forgiveness for any faults or faux pas
9. We would be committed to being each other’s best cheerleader and fan.
10. We would understand that respect for each other should also extend to our families. We should treat each other’s parents as if they were our own, where possible.
11. We would respect each other’s private space and provide it wherever and whenever necessary. Our partner’s physical, mental and emotional security are of paramount importance.
12. Remember that each of us, my partner and I, should be the apple of our eye. A stable, balanced and happy marriage is the best gift we have for our descendants.
13. We would remember that our love is also action and not just emotions. We will choose love each other unconditionally, regardless of headaches, curlers in the hair, the make-up free look or the beer belly.
14. We will have times when we are angry with each other, and it can take some time to get over the emotional issues. But we will remind each other that we still love each other.
15. We will do our best to not go to bed angry but find ways to defuse our tensions and work together to find solutions.
16. We would be accountable to each other and work to be the best examples and role models for each other and our families.
17. When temptation strikes (and it will, make no mistake) we would keep the late actor Paul Newman’s advice in mind: “ Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?”
18. We will remember that kisses and hugs are free, and go a long way to strengthening a relationship.
19. No matter how tired we are, we will resolve to help each other with the chores and housework.
20. We will hold hands and be unafraid of intimate touch with each other. It is all about love, love, love AND love. When in doubt, we choose love.
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