Life Beyond Therapy
Keeping It Good (part II)
Published Thursday, 02-Sep-2010 in issue 1184
You meet someone you like. You go out (or hang out) for a while. You get to know each other. It’s going well. Before you know it, you’re in a “relationship” and it feels good. More time passes, and things aren’t so great anymore. Once you’ve created a loving relationship with a terrific partner, how do you “keep” it good? In this two part column, (check out part I in last week’s GLT), I’ll share some ideas with you and give you questions you can answer on your own or with a partner:
Comfortable with uncertainty
The older we get, the more we see how God laughs at OUR plans, substituting Her own instead. Uncertainty is a reality, and the sooner we make peace with it, the happier we’ll be. No relationship turns out as we planned it…there’s always shit along the way that we didn’t expect. How do we make peace with all that uncertainty? Questions to consider:
What do you find most scary about your present relationship? If you’re single, what scares you most about a future relationship?
What direction do you see your life headed? If you have a partner, ask her/him the same question. If you’re really brave, compare answers.
Predictability and Excitement
We all have different needs. Some of us like our independence and don’t need much emotional support; others like to have a strong shoulder to lean on. The “experts” say, “Don’t take your partner for granted”. But doesn’t taking your partner for granted mean that you can count on and trust them? This doesn’t mean treating someone badly; it DOES mean that you can depend on each other. This is also known as “security” and “dependability”. But it’s tricky here, because many of us want Superman/Wonder Woman in bed and Clark Kent/Lois Lane at tax time. How do we negotiate that balance?
In your ideal relationship, describe the balance between predictability and excitement?
How predictable or not are you? Are you happy this way or do you want to change?
Mystery, Suffocation and Balance
In my experience, the happiest people have a close friend (or two) AND a wonderful partner. Rarely can one person fulfill all your needs. Too much time together with little room to breathe can suffocate a healthy relationship. You need a little mystery. Don’t share everything (yes, I’m talking to you codependent folks). A totally predictable relationship isn’t very interesting.
The best relationships are a balancing act: time alone, time with a partner, time with friends. In fact, it’s perfectly normal to sometimes feel closer to your friends than your partner. This is usually just a phase; it passes. Keep reconnecting to your partner AND sharing your life with other people who love you too.
How do you typically balance alone time/partner time/friend time?
Are you happy with this balance or would you like to change it?
Dare to be Eccentric
This isn’t often talked about. How do you find the courage to create the kind of relationship you and your partner want, even if your friends think you’re both weird or boring. You and your partner need to find out what YOU like, don’t like, and to be true to yourselves. Dare to be a happily eccentric couple. Some people may think you’re strange, but there’s nothing like the satisfaction of doing it YOUR way…whether anyone else approves of it or not.
How have your past relationships been “typical” or not?
How would you like your current (or future) relationship to be “outside the box”?
If you could have any kind of relationship you wanted, e.g., two wives or husbands, what would you like? Let your mind go free…
The above ideas and questions offer a few ways to keep your relationship “Good”. A good relationship is like a precious jewel, it needs to be treasured and valued. It takes time, energy and a lot of love to stay with someone, no matter how fabulous she or he is.