Relationships are hard work. We are never told that when we are young. Our expectations are that we will meet “that someone special” fall in love and live happily ever after. Well, that worked for Cinderella, it rarely happens in real life. If we want to bond with another person, we need to work at it, and never ever take it for granted.
When we fall in love we think we will live in “new relationship bliss” for the rest of our lives. Remember how it felt to always be with the person you love 24/7. You were energized in each other’s presence. When we weren’t with him/her we were thinking about them. We want to be with each other constantly. However, no one can keep up that pace of excitement. All relationships mature and settle down. After we get to know each other and the newness wears off we start to venture back into our lives bringing our new love with us. Life is content and we are happy.
However, as life marches on so does the relationship. We start to take each other for granted.
Feelings get hurt and never resolved; these hurts fester and before you know it the relationship is not on solid ground. How can we avoid the pitfalls that seem to send a relationship spiraling into the abyss?
If you have been in a long term relationship that didn’t work out, hopefully, you can identify what you did wrong as readily as what the other person did that caused the two of you to part ways. It’s always easy to point the finger at the ex. However, the hardest thing to do is to point the finger inward and take responsibility for what we did to send the relationship over the cliff. As a divorced woman I know all too well how difficult this is to do. When I looked at my own relation I didn’t like what I found. This is where the work comes in. If I didn’t take a long hard look at what I did to contribute to the failure of my marriage I would be doomed to carry those mistakes into any new relationship I had. I work on my relationship now. I don’t take it for granted. Here are some of the things that helped me.
• No one person can complete the other. There is no such thing as a soul mate. Be your own soul mate. If you aren’t complete don’t expect someone else to make you a whole person.
• Celebrate growth in each other and your love will grow with it. If you are young (under 25) allow each other to grow. There are so many life experiences that will change how you view the world and how you view yourself. Allow each other to experience and grow as a person. This applies to everyone, but its impact hits the young the hardest.
• Respect each other’s past. Past relationships help form who we are. This is the person we fall in love with, be thankful for those past relationships and let them stay in the past. You don’t need to explain your past and ask no questions of your partners past.
• Remember, no one is perfect. Everyone has quirks and habits. Remember, when you thought it was cute that your partner would go in and out of the house three times before she/he would actually leave to go somewhere. They would always forget something and come back in and retrieve the forgotten item only to go back out to the car to discover they “forgot” something else. You would laugh and call them your “little scatter brain.” Now they are no longer “your little scatterbrain,” but a dumb ass that can’t concentrate long enough to make a list and gather what they needs before they leave. Remember how cute those habits once were and they were one of the reasons you fell in love with the person to begin with.
• Sex. This is a big one. Always, always remember that sex begins before either of you are in bed.
Guys helping with chores or running errands really relieves a great deal of stress form a woman’s life. Offer to cook dinner and clean up afterward. Admire something in your partner. Be sincere. You know your mate better than anyone. Think of small ways to make their day easier. And guy’s women will say not to waste money on flowers, but a quick trip to your local grocery store for inexpensive flowers will surely put a smile on her face. Woman, hug you man and give him a quick hug as he goes out the door. Tell him you appreciate him and he will be return the attention to you. Small thoughtful gestures during the day carry into the bedroom at night.
• Give each other space. This is important. Very important. We live in a world that speeds at a pace that is difficult for any human to keep up with. Cell phones, I Pads, Blackberries, Facebook, Twitter and other technologies keep us all on an electronic leash. At any given moment friends, family as well as employers can get in touch with us. It is hard to find time for ourselves. We all need time alone. Time alone may be as simple as soaking in the tub quietly with the door closed for an hour. Or going on a trip with friends without the partner give both of you time to regenerate. Wanting to be alone does not mean your partner wants to be away from you forever, he/she just needs quite time, and, listen to this carefully, if your last relationship ended due to cheating, don’t bring that jealously into this relationship. Being away from each other does not mean cheating. This is one of the most difficult emotions to overcome, but there is no faster way to destroy a relationship than to let a past hurt interfere with your present relationship. I have learned that I like time away from my partner and he needs time away from me. As soon as we are apart we miss each other and when we are back together we have realize that we are lucky to have each other.
• When you are upset with each other don’t start an argument with, “you need to.” It puts your partner on the defensive. After all he/she doesn’t have to do anything. If you want your partner to listen instead of tuning you out start with, “I need you to.” You partner will hear that it is you who needs something and will be open to listening vs. shutting down and tuning out.
• Finally, learn to forgive. Many times we hurt each other, inadvertently. When this happens discuss the issue, than forgive. This builds trust between you and your partner. Forgiveness helps you heal. It lets your partner know when he makes a mistake you will hear him when he tells you he is sorry.
Bonding is a slow process. It does not happen overnight. Relationships strengthen over time when we are considerate of each other, when we listen with purpose, give each other space and remember as often as possible to do small and thoughtful things for each other and above all learn to forgive. That is when we will develop a bond with someone that will last a lifetime.