I was having dinner with a friend recently and we were discussing what it’s like to be in a long term relationship. Both of us have been married for over 30 years. While we were congratulating ourselves on an impressive achievement, we also acknowledged the challenges that we have had to work through to continue to stay in our relationship.
And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow” – Jerry Chin
What was interesting about our conversation was that we both had times in our relationship where we faced roadblocks and thought it would be the end. Not just once, but a couple of times. We both agreed that relationships are always worth fighting for. Even through our worst storms, we had faith that a rainbow was just around the corner.
Our relationships are one of the most important areas of our life. When you are unhappy in your relationship it undoubtedly shows up in other areas, in particular, your health and well-being. If you handle your relationships effectively it will provide you with the greatest joy. When you handle your relationships ineffectively this is a place of pain. When you are in pain, this can lead to self-sabotaging behaviours such as restrictive eating, overeating, drinking and drug taking.
Being in a long term relationship is not about luck. It’s not about being with a soul mate or the perfect partner. Having a long term relationship is simply about love. Our basic human need is to be loved. Everyone wants to belong and feel important to someone and be contributing in meaningful ways. But, you can’t have love without a little pain.
Our relationships are forever changing and you must grow and adjust accordingly. No matter how much you love someone there will always be conflicts and challenges. How can you not? Everyone has different personalities, values, standards and rules and sometimes they won’t always align with your partner.
So how do you find the rainbow in the storm?
How do you get through the pains and struggles that relationships can bring? How do you keep love going?
The first step is connecting with the most important relationship you have. The relationship you have with yourself. All too often people look to their relationships for love, say their partner, their children etc. I am sure we are all guilty of this one. However, love must always start from within, because when you love yourself you will allow that love to radiate to the people around you. You need to fill your own love tank and appreciate and love who you are.
You cannot expect or rely on someone else to fill your love and happiness tank. You must take ownership of your own needs. What do you need to create and develop for yourself to feel loved? What do you need to create and develop to be loving? If your relationship is not where you want it to be, you have a chance every day to check in and make changes. Each day is a blank canvas for which you can design, create and nurture the love you want or rejuvenate and enhance the love that you have.
Before you can design or create, you need to dig deep and be totally honest.
When you are honest with yourself only then can you begin the process of working on your canvas. Identify what you are really feeling and what you really want. Are you feeling neglected, taken for granted or invisible? Or perhaps you want more from your relationship, say more fun, intimacy or passion. Don’t make your emotions your enemy. They serve a purpose by providing you with a chance to learn something to make your life better.
Honesty and open communication is the foundation of a successful relationship. Don’t assume that your partner is aware of how you are feeling or what you need. I am surprised to hear women tell me “my partner should know”. Really? What makes your partner know exactly how you want to be loved, appreciated or understood? How does your partner know what you really want or need? If you are a healthy, growing and expanding human being you are continuously moving and changing. How does your partner keep up with that? Everyone grows and changes and that includes your partner.
The most important lesson that I have learnt is that my happiness is up to me. Communicating how I want to be loved is also up to me. I am responsible for the quality and satisfaction of my relationship and I make a point of sharing exactly how I feel and what I want and need with my partner. I make sure that I check in with how my partner feels and what he wants. We then work on how we can both get our needs met. A love relationship is a moving and living thing that needs nurturing to grow and develop. The best way to nurture it is to keep checking in with yourself, be honest and communicate openly with your partner. Only then can you be prepared to make any adjustments and changes.
Life holds sunshine and rain.
When it rains on your parade, don’t back away or withdraw. Have faith that at the end of the rain there is the rainbow. It’s not about luck or chance. It’s about love. There are no limits to how you can change your world. Every day, you have the opportunity to make your life the way you want it.