A young man noticed an older gentleman at the train station. He wore a formal hat and had a bouquet of flowers in his hands. An older lady was getting off the train, with some help from her fellow passengers, and the two of them started to walk towards each other, slightly faster with each step, to finally embrace one another.
After the young man witnessed their loving embrace, he approached the older couple as they walked by, hand in hand. He said: – “Excuse me, I’m also waiting for my girlfriend and I just want to say that I wish we’d be blessed with the same loving relationship when we reach your age!” The old man smiled and replied: – “Young man, this is not something you can just be blessed with. This is something you both have to work for!”
So, what does it mean to work for the success of a relationship?
Step 0: Before you take the first step – Is it even worth it?
As you can probably guess, none of the violent wife-beaters started their relationship by slapping their future partner on the first date. These things evolve gradually – this is why it’s so hard to go against them. It’s like cancer: you first have to recognize that there’s a problem before you can start the healing process.
But there’s a point in such relationships, at which it’s foolish to make more effort and invest more energy into it – and if you’re in such a relationship, you must be able to recognize where that point is! If you find yourself in such a hurtful situation you must get out – whether it’s the man or the woman who might be the cause of pain and suffering! Don’t give life to something that doesn’t give life back to you! Or as the Bible says, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matthew 7:6) However, if your relationship is going well, or if your road together just started to get rocky a bit recently and you feel there’s still hope to improve, I’ll guide you through a list of checkpoints you should follow:
Step 1: Honesty
Can you be honest with each other? And this means, truly honest, without holding back. Do you have secrets so deep-rooted that they might tear you apart? Why are you afraid to share these? Why would you want to spend your entire life with someone with whom you can’t share these? Every successful relationship is rooted in honesty; it is like a flower that only blossoms when it’s planted in the rich soil of mutual, unconditional trust.
The work required for a successful relationship is not easy, just the opposite, it can be quite difficult. Each one of you must grow as an individual to make sure that you grow together as a couple! Each one of you must find the courage to end the secrecy, the unspoken pain and suffering, and the fears you may have in you. However, you each must do this with care, keeping in mind that the ultimate goal is to find solutions, instead of blames, for one another!
Step 2: Forgiveness
If you open up and let your partner see the most guarded and most vulnerable part of you, you must be prepared to both give and receive forgiveness. You simply cannot take advantage of your partner’s sincerity – this is your responsibility! It’s possible that he/she won’t be able to express his/her thoughts in a kind and gentle way. It’s also possible that it’ll be difficult for you to hear him/her out. But it is crucial that solutions and not your ego and self-importance are given priority. You must find a way to heal each other. After all, you’re together for that reason, not for defending yourselves against the other person!
Step 3: Acknowledging the other’s desires
Although, on any website that discusses polyamory, this is the point where one might think of sexual desires right away, that’s not what I have in mind, at least not the only thing. Your life with your partner can only be satisfying and rewarding if your partner’s own life is satisfying and rewarding. He/she might have a need for more physical touches – or just the opposite: he/she might want a bit more space from you. He/she might want more excitement, but it’s also possible he/she is missing intimacy. It is not enough to simply express these desires; you also have to allow each other to actualize them, to bring them to life. In other words, your relationship software needs to be updated with the newest, the most recent honesty update!
Step 4: Bringing it all to life
None of the above are worth anything if they don’t become part of your regular daily life, if you can’t make all these a part of your relationship together. You both need to put these into practice, otherwise you are just like politicians who makes promises during their campaign but keeps postponing to make changes once they’re elected. You must work together and help – not blame – each other if one of you falls behind. You share both the burdens and the joyful moments – that’s what relationship, that’s what covenant means !
Step 5: Looking for ways to reignite the fire
Every relationship has low points . We get to know each other, sex becomes a routine activity, and we no longer feel emotionally connected to our partner like we used to. This is when this question first hits us: Is this lukewarm life all there is ? But I love my partner! And I don’t want anyone else … Our relationship works … it just turned bleak and tiresome. This is when it’s no longer an option, but a must, to find new ways to spend time together: try to go for a hike, go surfing, or go on a weekend getaway. You don’t have to travel far; it’s not the beauty of the location that makes the time together valuable but how you plan for it and how you feel about spending it together!
Step 6: Letting go
If all of the above work, there’s sincerity and trust, you know and help each other to be fulfilled, actively work towards the success of your relationship, and you have excitement in your life together … then you can let go of each other’s hands! If your relationship is working and has a strong foundation, what fears can you have? What storm would be able to capsize such well-constructed ship whose keel is built on the hull of time spent together and the energy and effort made? If that’s the case, it makes no sense to be jealous of friends or family – or even another man or woman.
You see, this is already the third article, and we still haven’t mentioned open relationships or polyamory. Because this is the foundation. If you want to bring a third person into your relationship, you only open up yourself to pain and suffering. But if you trust each other and trust your relationship, if you’re on solid grounds both as individuals and as a couple, you can see the next articles as means to a more fulfilled life!