We are more like an acorn, which contains
within it all the potential to be a magnificent oak tree
Indeed, what is important for a
relationship? Loyalty and devotion? The similarity of interests and mentality?
Sexual compatibility? A normal family model from the childhood? Experience?
Some years ago, I carried out an opinion
poll where one of the questions was: “What in your view is for building a
harmonious relationship with partner?” The answers were not simply different -
they often contradicted each other. A year later, analyzing my experience as
well as experience of my friends and my clients, I came to the conclusion that
there can be no strict rules and regulations in relationships since it is a
creative process, discussing which it is hundred times easier to say what you
should not do rather than what you should do. And I ask you to stop thinking in
“right-wrong” terms. It doesn’t matter how right you act. The only thing that
matters is whether it works for you personally or not. If two people have
managed to build a relationship that makes them happy, no matter which way
they’ve achieved this result, even if this road is not a traditional one. In
contrast to that, most traditional ideas and techniques concerning
relationships turn out to be ineffective and disappointing. But most people
continue to use them, because it is always easier to do the same things today
as you did yesterday, rather than to try something new and unknown.
This state of things is related to one of
the strongest fears, which is common to all people without exception, i.e. the
fear of failure. Indeed, our subconscious mind or, more specifically, a bunch
of the emotional and instinctive brains, spends a lot of time on ensuring our
security, both emotional and physical. The subconscious mind works much faster
than consciousness and therefore, no rational substantiation is able to stop us
from avoiding anything that can be attributed to this frightful 4-letter
notion: RISK. The vast majority of actions aimed at improvement of your life
one way or another have to do with to risk. Really, the one who avoids risk,
risks the most. But just understanding that new actions are the only way to
change the old unsatisfactory way of life is sometimes not enough for
self-motivation. You have to turn your intention to improve your private life
to a concrete project with a clear action plan and clear deadlines. However we
will discuss the need for planning a bit later. In this chapter we’re just
considering what should be inside you to make the probability of building a
strong and harmonious relationship as high as possible.
Most people on this planet believe that
love is something that is sent to us by unknown power, by destiny, by elements.
That it occurs without our knowledge and participation and is shrouded in
mystery. There are plenty of reasons for such belief starting from lack of
proper knowledge and ending with a chronic inability to take responsibility for
own life and actions. However there are people in the world who believe that
love is one of the ways to make your life more interesting, more eventful and
more sensible. With their own hands. And, curiously enough, such people
themselves are more interesting, successful and responsive. They easily attract
other people. And on the contrary, fatalists often suffer from loneliness and
depression. People who know them barely expect ample recoil from them. Well,
what can you expect from a victim of fate?
So, now we came to the first critically
important quality for building relationships, which is RESPONSIBILITY.
Unfortunately or fortunately, people are fairly irresponsible by nature.
Responsibility is formed mainly by logical brain which usually gives emotional
and instinctive brains carte blanche to make decisions. A person may act
responsibly only if aware that this behavior brings him the emotions needed.
Responsibility of a person as well as his ability to make sober and
well-founded decisions is a critical element for building a strong
relationship. I know that at first glance, those having such qualities often
seem emotionally closed and callous. But in fact they are just the people who
tend to build the strongest long-term relationships, who are less liable to
depression, self-reproach or jealousy as well as to blaming and scandalous
behavior. They belong to that type of partners who are open to constructive
actions when relationship slides into recession.
Whether we like it or not, but in
relationship all of us instinctively tend to be in a follower position, some
more and some less. Some of those bright sensations that emotional and
instinctive brains feel the need for can be experienced only while being a
follower. And sometimes the only way to feel that we are under control of the
other person is to challenge him/her, to test how professional he/she is as a
player. Outwardly everything may look like we want to regain power but really
deep inside we dream of facing a more skillful opponent. You may learn more
about these mechanisms in next the chapter "How relationships work".
Here I started talking of these psychological games, because they can easily
cause a substantial harm to a relationship and just only responsibility for
yourself and for your partner in relationship as a whole adds solidity and
stability to them. Values are much more stable than feelings.
Also, do not mix a sense of responsibility
and a feeling of guilt. Blaming yourself or others, as a rule, is
characteristic of people with low level of responsibility. Let's consider a
simple example. Suppose a person in a new place sits on a chair, which
immediately breaks. Responsible behavior implies that a person will think about
his/her further actions in this situation without spending any time to consider
who is guilty of the breakdown. Likewise, in relationship the responsibility
implies developing a plan to overcome difficult situations, rather than
searching whom to blame. Basing on reactions to such crises most people can be
divided into three categories:
* inclined to blame themselves;
* inclined to blame others;
* inclined to blame fate.
At first glance you may get the impression
that people from the first category are the most successful in interaction with
outer world. This is true, although such people often try to take
responsibility for the things they cannot influence at all. Anyway, importance
of the answer to the question "Who is guilty?" when making vital
decisions is far lower than that to the question "What should I do?” Think
about it, especially if you belong to those readers who are convinced that the
root of all evil in their relationship is their partner.
And the last thing I’d like to say about
responsibility. Some people believe that men must be responsible for the
climate in the family, and some, in contrast, believe that this is women's
work. Remember that relationship is being built by both partners. This is a
mutual work. This is a partnership project. This is the interest of the both.
This is the responsibility of each of them.
The second important feature for building
relationship is PROACTIVITY. Preventive actions are initiated by a logical
brain only. Proactivity is not a quality that is common for people, led by
feelings and emotions. The latter often spend their lives trying to get
something valuable for free. They expect financial success without any efforts.
They are convinced that there is no need to change something in relationship
until it’s like an erupting volcano. We may say they live under the slogan:
"Why to improve something, if it is good so far?" or, in short:
"Take everything from life!”. Unfortunately, the majority of people live
Proactivity is the desire for continuous
growth and constant progress. Proactive people wake up every morning and ask themselves:
"What can I do today to improve my life?" Or, in the particular case:
"What can I do to improve our relationship?" These people have in
mind and plan on paper actions to improve their lives. They understand that
even a strong and harmonious relationship need a regular flow in the
prevention, of deliberately making them fresh impetus.
There is a myth in society that the quality
of the relationships defined by the presence or absence of love between
partners. Also that love turns into a logical value, which takes only two
digits are often denied itself with ability to change the value from plus to
minus or vice versa. This is a very comfortable position since it can explain
all the problems regarding the lack of love. But such a dividend as the lifting
of responsibility usually is accompanied by substantial losses. The top loss
here is in declining quality of love life. If you recognize yourself in this
description, I have good news for you since now you know that actions of yours
can improve the quality of relationship and just turn them upside down. And
very soon I'll tell you how to do that.
Proactivity is the desire for continued
growth, the constant progress. Proactive people wake up every morning and ask
themselves: "What can I do to improve my life?" Or, in particular
case: "What can I do to improve my relationship?" These people have
an action plan in mind or on paper for improving their lives. They understand
that even a strong and harmonious relationship need a regular nourishment,
preventive measures and conscious contribution. The moon is the only free of
charge thing in love.
The third important attribute of a strong
relationship is OPENNESS. Here I use this term in the broad sense, including a
high priority of communication with a partner, openness to personal changes,
honesty in the relationship, and personal integrity as well. In an open
relationship partners know the real needs of each other, they are always
willing to discuss what is important for each of them and they are always ready
to seek for compromise solutions to the issues, on which they will never agree.
Openness is something that we often see among friends and so seldom among
married couples. Open partner is a friend who does not hide his true colors. He
doesn’t surround himself with steel walls of the betrayal phobia. His is a
healthy person since he is emotionally mature and easily becomes friends with
different people. He does not vent his negative experience on his family and
Perhaps you will say that it is extremely
hard to be open to a person after the psychological trauma that you have
endured in the past. I'm really sorry, if you had sad fate and your life was
full of cruelty, betrayals and disappointments. Of course, all these situations
exert a great influence on your personality. But "INFLUENCE" does not
equal “DETERMINE”. Your adult life is in many respects the result of your
personal choices and your personal responsibility. Of course, your experience
and your environment are the factors that can’t not be forgotten in a flash. I
know how painful it is to be betrayed. I know how painful being hit on weak
points by your nearest and dearest. But without openness it is totally
impossible to build harmonious relationship. Without openness communication
within the family becomes callous and cold. Without openness partners do not
think in "we" category; they see only their own interests and
relationship is often seen by them as just a competition to be won but not a
partnership. If you want to be happy with your relationship, from this day
forward you must find the strength to work on raising your own openness in
communication, especially with your intimate partner.
All the qualities that I’ve mentioned sound
awfully banal, though they are rather rare. In a varying degree they need to be
developed by all of us. And not just for improving the family relationship, but
also to make life more simple, harmonious and meaningful. Growing personally
should be your main goal in building a relationship with a partner. Your personal
growth determines your attraction, your self-confidence, your self-sufficiency
and the ability to set a desired the desired direction for your life.