Monday, March 7, 2011

Five Tips to Avoid Relationship Disasters

You can build good romantic relationships or play around. That's your choice. But the Law of Cause and Effect still holds. If you want a solid relationship with your significant other, what "cause" needs to happen to get the desired "effect"?

"Crossed Fingers" by Katie Tegtmeyer

At this writing, I am in my 9th year of happy marriage with two lovely and charming kids. Prior to this relationship, I've been a total loser in courtship.

I haven't exactly been to the rocks of depression (just close to it), but I must admit to having exerted real effort in finding the formula for courtship and relationship that would greatly increase my chances of ending up happily married with kids who can relate well with me. That's what a long losing streak in courtship can do to a man.

My motivation for such search is simple -- I've seen how it is in the rocks in the marriages of people close to me and I don't want to be there. I'm grateful for having seen the disasters in others, and not in mine (unless I get stupid, that is). I have felt that the only thing I can do about what I'm seeing is to learn from their mistakes, rather than learn from such mistakes first hand. Do I make sense?

So let me share with you five things that I've discovered...

1. To relate with a significant other is a basic emotional need, not a vanity

Some people play with people's emotions. If you want a happy relationship, don't tread this path nor tolerate that behavior in your partner. You're playing here with something that makes people tick.

More on this in future posts.

2. Self-acceptance is a pre-requisite to accepting another person.

I have observed that the recurring reason why some people play with the other's emotion comes down to one motive -- emotional self-defense.

Playing around is most often all about seeking acceptance from peers. You want people to say you're cool and invulnerable hard to get. You pursue it with the same zeal as winning the Grand Slam.

The key question here is: do you have the great yearning to prove yourself to others so that people would accept you? If so, why? Where does that yearning come from?

These are hard questions and I don't mean to trivialize them. They need to be asked just the same.

My wife and I attended a Human Encounters Workshop. One poster said, "In Relationships, one-half plus one-half is NOT equal to one. They are simply two halves." What do you think that means?

3. Relationships is about Reciprocity

There's a loving relationship when love is exchanged between two persons. Outside of this definition, there is no reciprocity.

I have seen people who are in love with the concept of being "in love" more than being actually in love with a real person. It's like loving the halo around the person more than loving the person himself or herself. Sad stories worth a dime a dozen litter the road of life. You may have some of these stories in your shelf or your TV right now.

4. Love unexpressed is love unappreciated

This very basic truth escapes a lot of people. Love is expressed through beingness. By simply being who you are, your partner would smell that you are in love. If you have to exert an extra effort to express love, then something is wrong in the picture.

So, when you stop expressing love, or when you withhold its expression, it creates a lot of stress in your partner's feelings. When one is choking with questions like, "Does he/she really love me?" then the whole relationship is also choking.

At the end of it all, you say, "But I do love her, I do love her!"

Why didn't you let her know? "But she knows!" you retort. Are you sure? Why don't you go and find out, now?

5. Love is spoken in a particular language, which varies from person to person

Most often we think we already know the other person. But in reality, we all are in the process of knowing the language of our partner. There are differences in the way we perceive love, and one of our prime responsibilities in a loving relationship is to find out how the other perceives it.

Some perceive love in terms of the gifts you give. Others on how you touch them. A segment of the human race perceives love through the time you spend with them. Another segment appreciates acts of service more than any others. Then there's a segment that wants to hear the words per se.

How do you want love to be expressed to you? Does your partner express it that way?

Conversely, how does your partner perceive love? Do you express love to your partner accordingly?

I'll stop at this point before it gets too long. But feel free to comment or ask questions that you would want to be discussed in greater detail.

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