Tag Archives: relationships

The secret to a happy marriage

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My husband and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary yesterday. I noticed, during my Facebook morning newsfeed scan that a few others were celebrating their anniversary as well. So I thought to myself what have I learned? This last year has been particularly tumultuous for us and our marriage. Yet, we are still together, in some ways stronger than before. That comes from a decision to stay together. Now, the younger me might have been more resistant about making compromises to stay together more likely to say “If you’re not happy just bail and find someone you can be happy with.” With age comes patience and the ability to step back and say “Is this problem temporary?” Many times it is. I have a three-day rule. If I am really mad I cannot make any permanent decisions for three days. By the third day I often cannot remember what I was mad about, but if I can remember, I am calm enough to talk to my husband about it without being so overly emotional that communication is no longer possible. I focus on what specific behavior or incident bothered me and luckily I am with a man who is willing to listen and who also wants to stay married so we work it out.

This is not to say that we don’t blow our top from time to time. However, one thing we know how to do is to say, “Hey, I was out of line and I’m sorry.” That is an important skill to have, in any relationship, especially in marriage.

The final, piece of advice I’ll write about today that really came to my attention this morning when I asked myself the question “What is different in the way I relate to my relationship now, compared to when my husband and I first started dating?” I wanted to isolate that which makes someone so wonderful in the beginning and then at some point I find my husband reminding me that he “is not the enemy. We are on the same team.” I think this happens a with women who have children and responsibilities around the house in addition to what she had before she came into a relationship. She has career responsibilities for example. Women can begin to feel overloaded and overwhelmed, especially when children are very young. It is the constant demand to place others first and share monetary resources which happens in a marriage and not during dating that can wear on a relationship. It’s important to be vigilant and not let these little things pile up in a memory bank that gets played over and over because it’s not healthy for the relationship. In the beginning the couple looks only for the best in one another and gets amnesia about the negative things. After a few kids it seems to be the other way around, and the couple gets amnesia about the good while focus turns to what the partner isn’t doing “as expected”. That is where marriages start to fall apart. But it’s simple to fix, just start concentrating on the good things again.

I think this is why the tradition of anniversaries continues. To remember the day that we wanted to get married. To remember how beautiful she looked, how handsome he looked, the magic of the day. To get back to that time when our partner could do no wrong. It’s a good thing that keeps a marriage healthy. We re-create that energy and bring it into the present day. That practice is what makes marriages last as intended.

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I’ll live for you

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 Some songs throughout the ages, as well as poems and sonnets speak of a love so strong that someone says to another “I would die for you.”  It is indeed a strong declaration of love, to place his or her life in harm’s way in order for one’s beloved to live. At the same time and in some ways a more grandiose gesture of love could be to say, “I will live for you.”

A promise to preserve health to the best of one’s ability and to say I will take care of my health so that I may be with you for many years to come when you need me most. I will live so that we can face what the world has to offer––good or bad, together. I will live for you.

There are challenges offered by life that can make living seem like more of a challenge than dying. Getting up everyday trying to figure out the little nuances of life, the questions of life like “Where’s the food going to come from today?” “How is the myriad of things that must be done going to get done?” This reality coupled with the stresses of life that can be so prevalent today that makes living for someone so much more of a declaration of love than dying for them.

This is not to take away from the awesome sacrifice made by a soldier or first responder. People that place themselves on the front-line to protect those they love or die for honor. Yet to forgo the indulgence of destructive vices and excessive behaviors rather than to fight for one’s health in order to be there for those you love when they need you most also holds the hero’s reward that comes with acts of courage and fortitude.

So, if you really love someone, perhaps saying “I’ll die for you” is not the greatest proclamation of love. Maybe that greatest oath of love a person can make is “I’ll live for you.”

You must be whole on your own to be in a complete relationship

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I would like to address a myth of the modern world that I feel is prevalent. With fairy tales and romantic comedies there is this assumption that once you are in a committed relationship you will never be alone. Yet in today’s world of business travel, long work hours and transfers to other places for work it is rare that a couple be together all the time. Those who attempt to be in a relationship in order to fill a need that they are not able to fill independently of their partner have a great chance to set themselves up for disappointment.

It is interesting to think about military families in history. Men would go to war sometimes four or more years without seeing their family. There are the modern warriors, not just the military but the business warriors that are away from their families on the road around the globe getting the deal done.

Entertainers, athletes, and others are constantly on the move on tour or promoting their work and their partners need to be strong and complete on their own. This allows a person to be able to enjoy the time they have with the one they love instead of feeling they must be punished in some way for not being present to fulfill the needs of the other.

In order to live a fulfilling and satisfying life one must have a parallel path to the one they love. There are great times when the paths intertwine and are in harmony. Yet, inevitably there will be times when paths become parallel but separate for any number of reasons. That’s why the key to happiness inevitably comes back to self.

Before a person can become a part of a strong relationship, they must first be strong as an individual. They must have an independent sense of place, of self, be able to provide for themselves should that become necessary. This ability changes the dynamic of a relationship from needing to be together, to wanting to be together. Something that often adds the spark and confidence people crave from the dating phase of a relationship. That is a very powerful distinction.

Relationships are a lot like running a three-legged race. The person not only needs to be capable of running quickly on their own, they must also be able to run tied to another which involves communication and team work. When both partners know they can count on the other to hold up their end of the team and keep moving forward together the more successful the couple will be in staying together throughout the journey of life.

Extended family is important to living a fulfilling life.

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In the past century a new phenomenon in Western Culture was to move for employment purposes. The focus was no longer on extended families but the nuclear family being primarily comprised of parents and their children.

Before this happened being human was more of a tribal experience. There were aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and siblings all near by to spread out the chores, the expenses, to share the joys and ease the burdens. People of like mind, when it worked well they were positive and supportive of family members’ endeavors. They were a source of advice and were there, which could lend to feelings of safety and comfort.

I am lucky. I have a pretty cool family. However, I know that not everyone does. The thing is, everyone needs support and with the way the economy is going and the uncertain future it seems even more important to create a support community around each individual.

Having a support system of people is an important part of having a fulfilling life. To feel the love and support of others emotionally, for advice, and even for other kinds of help during times of trouble. We need community. We need our people.

Now for those who have more of a challenge with their blood family. If they are somehow toxic, abusive, or generally not supportive if they hurt more than help or feel energizing to be with it is possible that the solution is to create a surrogate family.

A surrogate family are people who do support you. Who encourage you and have your best interest at heart. These are people you can share holidays and special times with and feel comfortable to be your authentic self. People who are loving and giving in positive ways. Sometimes friends can be even closer than family. The important part is creating a loving net of people who care to recharge you with positive thoughts and with whom you can live a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Where can I find these people? You may ask. Usually you find them doing the things you do naturally. Look for people with common hobbies, interests and view points. You may also have friends with opposing view points, and that’s ok, as long as the time spent with them is mostly harmonious and not combative and stressful. Find people you work well with when putting together a meal or doing a project together. The kind of people you wouldn’t mind being stuck on a deserted island with. The kind of people you know will have your back and be there to pick you up after a bad day.

Having a sense of belonging and community is something I feel we are sorely lacking in the modern age. We can still be tech savvy and modern while still being able to enjoy the old fashioned tradition of family whether they are related by blood or not the important part is to be connected with love, connected by the heart.

How to breathe when someone you love doesn’t love you back.

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In the human experience there is a spectrum of emotions that come with life. The highest highs of bliss and the deepest cuts of painful experience. One that cuts the deepest is to love someone that does not feel that love in return. Life can go on and a person can keep breathing with unrequited love. Step out of the trap one baby step at a time.

One helpful tool is to keep a journal. To say all of the things that are welling up to tell the object of your affections that may be inappropriate to tell them. This allows the freedom from such thoughts and allows the opportunity to put the words on paper to analyze and if needed to destroy. Sometimes ripping up such a letter allows a feeling of freedom to move on to a relationship that is mutually fulfilling.

When the mind movies of that special person float through your mind, especially at inopportune times, like during a class or a meeting that needs focus and attention. Simply take a deep breath and mentally send the love you feel to that person. In order to clear your mind and focus on life in the now and the present.

Get out and have fun. It is important to not be isolated thinking that there can be only one when that person doesn’t love you back. Mingle amongst the people, flirt a little, find ways to occupy your thoughts and rebuild personal confidence. This is a stage of personal empowerment and confidence makes a person that much more attractive. Who knows there just may be someone else out there who is more fun to flirt with and can blossom into a healthy mutual relationship?

Realize that it is no one’s fault and that you are a treasure. It is so important to be with a person that is happy to be with the real you. Where you can be all that you can be for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, those vows are there for a reason. The more real you are and the more your partner in love is willing to be there too the more wonderful the relationship will be. It is hard to be patient to meet that person, however it is so worth the wait.

In the meantime have fun with friends, perhaps get a pet, some furry friend that you can love and that can love you back. Don’t hide in a furry friend relationship though, never get up. Finding a mutually loving person is a contact sport go out and meet people and one day you will find the one that loves you back that can heal the pain caused by the one that didn’t.

L is for Lies

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Part twelve of the A-Z series. L is for Lies.

Lies can destroy lives. It has been shown time and time again. It’s even mentioned in the Ten Commandments in the Bible. “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Yet in the American culture and many cultures throughout the world we hear things like “Well it’s just a little white lie.” “I’m just lying so I don’t hurt their feelings.”

A lie may not even be something said often they present themselves in actions and ways of living inconsistent with an individual’s core principles and realities. Running up debt to appear more wealthy, living an almost secret life keeping it from people who are close to them especially family members, claiming to be of a certain group or faith with actions that do not match are common examples of this type of lie.

In corporate culture there is a whole culture of lying in many ways primarily used by corporations, their boards, executives and employees to get what they want, think they deserve, and the ever-present fight to stay employed with the company and show a profit. In the entertainment world storyline after storyline is based on people lying to one another. Let’s not even get started about politics. As such lying is something many have become numb to so what’s the big deal?

Over time I have come to realize that a fulfilling life is dependent on a series of equations. In the end, creating a fulfilling life really isn’t very subjective. It’s math. The difficult part is discovering and defining the variables.

1+2=3. Authentic You+relationship/situation=relative happiness and fulfillment.

If the result continues to come out as -5 a dissatisfaction then there is a missing or untrue variable somewhere in that equation.

It is easy for most people to embrace the idea that others are lying to them. There is no shortage of cynics in the world. One thing that is more threatening for people to face are the lies we tell and accept from ourselves. What is in it for us to lie to ourselves?

There are conscious and unconscious lies. Unconscious lies are more based in a desire for conformity to the cookie-cutter mold of being acceptable and “successful”. How many people make choices to fit into that stereotype of superficial success? Spend their days in a job they hate, subject themselves to painful surgery to look a certain way, hang out with people they don’t particularly enjoy because that’s what it takes. This unconscious lie is part of the pre-packaged life, there isn’t much thought or intention that goes with it.

Conscious lying has more to do with trying to rationalize a destructive pattern to make it seem benign to oneself in order to fit the idea someone has of themselves. For example, most people want to think of themselves as good people. They want to think of them selves as attractive and successful they have a customized picture of what that looks like. In addition, many have identified themselves with certain labels usually relating to a religion, ethnic, socio-economic, gender based, sexual oriented or any other of the many group slots that humans categorize themselves into.

In addition to defining self in relationship to the group and their personal standing with it, people also have realities that they want, at times desperately, to be true. This often has to do with relationships. The old adage about all being fair in love and war fits this ideal perfectly.

Back to the question why would we lie to ourselves? We lie to ourselves to try to make the equation balance out. Many people add variables to the equation to make it balance out. For example.

Person (1)+ in a relationship(2) (with a person who travels a lot and is emotionally unavailable(-8)= -5

So instead of finding a partner better suited to them that may not fit the idea of success planted in their head a person could add a variable such as.

( Person(1)+ in a relationship(2) (with a person who travels a lot and is emotionally unavailable(-8))+ shopping (8)=3

So the person is thinking Me(1)+ my relationship (2)=happiness (3) but they are not really happy they are compensating for their unhappiness with shopping or any other number of distractions.

People do this with jobs and any number of other things that they do to fit an inauthentic mold of themselves that has been created by the society and culture where they live. It might be fine if it worked. Yet often this type of compensated happiness feels hollow and tinny. It also tends to take constant attention and a lot of resources to maintain. People need to keep getting a fix of this artificial variable to keep the equation balanced.

This way of being is very often not sustainable and is often self-destructive. At some point a person looks back at the compromises from consciously deceiving themselves and feel regret instead of contentment and fulfillment about their life choices.

People who feel they did what they could to live their authentic lives and things still didn’t work out as hoped or planned to a varying degree may discover that in that case often they are unconscious of a lie that was told to them. From that point they can balance the equation by discovering the lie and removing it from the equation and recalibrating their choices to the new reality. Yet sometimes that is not possible an example of this is when the lie is from an institution, a group or government for instance. If a person cannot remove the lie from the equation it is still possible that to live in relative peace and contentment. To do so they will need to add a distraction or some source of happiness to the equation to balance out the lie and bring them back into the positive once again.

In the end honesty is the best policy. What lies have you been telling yourself and others and what can you do to irradiate these lies from your life and live a more authentic and fulfilling life?