Three Loving Lessons
By Maria Gurney Peth PhD
Relationship chemistry draws us together, yet what is it that keeps two people weathering the twists and turns of this fickle life? Relationship experts point to various angles and characteristics of successful partnerships, however with more than 30 years of experience in my own marriage, I offer these three loving lessons in relationship harmony.
It was my freshman year in college, when I was briefly introduced to the man I now call my husband. He was a senior at the time, busy with his life as a scholarship athlete and student. I was actually dating someone else, and trying to adjust to college life. Naturally, we went our separate ways, yet I did take note that he was super cute and the dangerously devilish twinkle in his eye lingered in my mind with nagging curiosity.
It was the following spring when our paths crossed again, I was waitressing in a popular college sports bar and he kept tipping me rather generously. At bar time he asked me out for a date the following weekend. All that week I wondered if he would show, I analyzed the possibility that he had been too intoxicated to remember he had asked me for a date. Happily, he proved to be very reliable and the relationship with Prince Charming began.
We continued to strengthen our friendship over the next few years. From the very beginning, I discovered what I consider today to be proven roots for any longterm relationship. We were two confident individuals, coming together with a long list of differences and interests, yet we supported and cared enough to encouraged one another to broaden our personal strengths, interests and gifts. Loving and empowering your partner for whom they are authentically is an ultimate compliment. No need to fix anyone, nor change them to suit you better.
Lesson #1 Be the best you!
Come to a relationship whole, and then be willing to share interdependently. Confidence and independence is sexy. Happiness originates from within each of us and we tend to seek equally dynamic and interesting souls as life partners. Great couples find themselves embracing: disharmony, difference, distance, discovery, while evolving toward consistent trust, respect and common ground. I find it is unrealistic to expect another person to make you happy, they can and should contribute to your picture of joy, yet you are responsible for harnessing happiness for yourself. Having freedom and your partners encouragement to be the best you can be, benefits everyone as it naturally increases personal satisfaction and relationship longevity.
Lesson #2 Kindness & generosity count!
Scientific studies by relationship experts John & Julie Gottman, point toward the attributes of kindness and generosity to be a major ingredient in long term loving and passionate relationships. They report that it is important to warmly and affectionately build trust, and intimacy through kindness. Gottman reports couples who naturally have this affectionate skill set as “Masters”, and those who don’t as “Disasters”.
As a couple, consider sprinkling warm affectionate behaviors as well as, simple gifts and surprises into your days. This is the true meaning behind the term “fore-play”, consciously loving and opening your heart and sharing special moments with your best friend is the act of love making at its best. Small and random expressions of tenderness count.
In a relationship, simple gifts of kindness to one another can range from: holding hands, giving a back rub, extending a needed hug, sharing in multiple child and household duties, offering a listening ear, celebrating an accomplishment, or even buying one another a favorite treat. My husband and I have discovered – dreaming of the possibility of winning a $2.00 lotto ticket can really open the generosity in our hearts. Also, our spontaneous weekend trips together over the years altho infrequent, have proven to be wonderful times of connecting and a validation of our true friendship and devotion to one another.
Lesson #3 Communication and humor are premium
Good communication begins first thing in the day. “Good morning sweetheart”, “What is your schedule today?”, “What sounds good for dinner?”, “Did you sleep well?” Small talk indicates active and constructive responsiveness. Communication and responding to one another clearly demonstrates to your partner, you care, they matter and you love them. It is the kiss of of intimacy. If you sprinkle in an inside joke, or a favorite memory you are fond of, you will build the tower of love and trust to a higher more solid level. Laughter is the icing on the cake. Find a way to laugh together and feel the uplifting energy this contagious emotion erupts, and how it can heal a long tired day or stressful moment.
Being ignored is the worst kind of loneliness. Yelling and impatience is an erupting act of disaster. Picking on one another is equally disturbing; with this crazy cocktail of misbehavior resentment is born, which when left unresolved can build a stonewall between heart and soul. Pretending that nothing is wrong is a silent killer. Instead of immature antics, open the communication stream and be the first to apologize, forgive and destroy any barrier between the two of you. This act of confidence is a strength, not a weakness. It takes courage to breakthrough hurt and discord. Remember, kindness counts even more so when there is discord.
When one or the other of you is mad, try to wait the other one out, don’t feed the drama. Discussing disagreements are better served when both parties are open and feeling kind and generous enough to listen and offer solution based compromise. Instead of an attack, practice explaining why you are hurt, or disappointed in one another. Communication is the key to a great relationship and don’t sweat the small stuff, get it out where it won’t fester into a cancer of hurt and pain.
The stressors of life can cause petty grievances and result in a dramatic drop in the level of satisfaction in any relationship. For success and a loving passionate relationship always combine: a hug, a loving look, a kind word, a tender touch, a small gift of kindness and a hint of laughter when ever possible.