After 41 years of being married to W (42 in November if we both live that long) I totally understand how you might think of me as a relationship guru with all the answers when it comes to making commitments that last. I often think of myself that way. And then I give myself a good smack on the forehead and come back to earth for a while. Because really, who knows why some relationships last a lifetime and others are just practice runs for something better? We’re all different, and we all relate to each other in different ways.
This is an excellent challenge for all the Bloggers for Peace, and for anyone who is now or has ever been in any kind of relationship, wants to end an old or start a new relationship, or wonders if relationships are all they’re cracked up to be or worth the effort it takes to maintain them. So that covers pretty much every human being on earth.
Every one of us has our own individual recipe for a peaceful home with a list of ingredients that makes relationships with others work for us. It should never be carved in stone. We grow, we change, we evolve. My personal formula for happiness is in constant revision. At this particular moment in time, these are some of the things that work for me. If I come back and read this post in five years time and wonder how I could have been such an idiot, that’s probably a good thing. It means I’ve learned something new and changed, hopefully for the better.
Okay! Here we go. Grandmalin’s Relationship Advice Column. What makes a peaceful relationship and what you can do to become a better partner. Because there is nothing else in life I enjoy more than telling people what to do.
1. Make peace with yourself first. You have to create your own happiness first before you can share it with someone else. There is no one out there who can make you happy. That’s your job. Another person can help bring out the best in you, but the best has to be there in the first place. There are also no positive relationships with emotionally unavailable people. If the people you’re currently hanging around with are not happy, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. If you and your significant other have grown in different directions and can no longer connect or appreciate each other, by all means consider that it may be the right time for both of you to move on.
This is number one on my list because it cannot be stressed enough. When you love yourself and are at peace with who you are, that love will spill over into all your relationships with your family and your friends and with every one you meet. And it will open your heart to receive the peace and the love that comes back to you.
2. Don’t try to change each other. Go bang your head against a brick wall instead. It will get the same results. Accept, adapt, acknowledge. Change and growth cannot be forced. Overlook the little things that bug you, because they really don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, and work on your own reactions to them instead. Don’t nag, don’t harass. You could maybe try crying and pleading, and see if that works. But don’t get your hopes up. Sometimes you just have to readjust your expectations and carry on.
3. Speak up/Communicate. Unless you are both mind readers, you will have to talk to each other. Express your own feelings instead of trying to make the other person feel something. Saying “I care deeply about what is happening” means “I care deeply about you.”
4. Shut up/Listen. Unless you are both mind readers, you will have to really hear what is being said to you. Don’t blame, don’t judge until you’ve truly listened with empathy and compassion. Everyone wants and deserves to be heard.
5. Admit that you don’t know everything. Because, hey – you don’t know everything. Confess when you mess up. Step back when you are angry. One person should not get to be the boss all the time. Not even you. Apologize when you need to and don’t stay mad.
6. Slow down. Life is short and should be savoured at a leisurely pace. What’s your hurry, anyway? You’ll get to the end of it soon enough. Be patient with each other. Enjoy the learning process together. Shoot for less drama and more calm. Work through the issues. Be strong enough as a team to weather every storm.
7. Be kind. Keep your promises. Each of you deserves to be seen and heard, loved and appreciated. Be grateful for the time and energy and tolerance it takes to support a loving relationship. Be supportive and helpful and happy for each other’s successes. When you fall flat on your face it’s nice to have someone around to help you pick yourself up. Be that someone for the people you love.
8. Give each other lots of space. Respect the other persons right to do things on their own, to make their own decisions and their own mistakes. You may be a couple, but you are still both individuals working hard on whatever it takes for you to be the best you can be, investing time and energy in your own personal growth. Sometimes we simply need someone to be there, not to fix anything or even to do anything in particular, but just to stand beside us so that we know we are cared for and loved.
9. Play. Have fun. Laugh. Be silly. Life does not have to be so serious. Spend part of every day being a bit wild and crazy. See how that feels. Pretty good, hey? Do it again tomorrow.
10. Never forget why you fell in love in the first place. The older you get, the harder it may be for you to recall what the hell you were thinking. Just remember, your relationship does not define you and it does not own you. You are now, and forever will be, yourself, living your own life. But since you’ve decided for now that you’re in this together, don’t stop working on your relationship and everything that makes it sweet.
Love yourself, give love, receive love, be in love. Practice, practice, practice. That’s how peace happens.