TWELVE WAYS TO MAINTAIN AND DEEPEN ANY RELATIONSHIP
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© July 2020, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
1. God is the primary provider, companion, inspiration and lover. This is a great key to happiness in relationships. Neither partner can depend primarily upon the other partner for a certain kind of sustenance and love.
This always requires quiet time each day when both partners, together or apart, relax, tune in and seek the guidance, comfort and companionship of God, Holy Spirit or however, you conceive of the Almighty.
If God is not central in both person’s lives, the relationship easily becomes co-dependent. This means the two people are hanging on to one another for dear life instead of helping each other unselfishly.
Recognizing God is first takes the pressure off the partners to live up to unrealistic expectations, and it creates space in the relationship that helps ease all sorts of pressures.
While this may sound far-fetched, it is not. One does not need to be religious for it to work. Simply decide that God will be primary or first in both your lives, with your partner second.
Some will not like this, of course, and it takes some care so that you do not alienate and forget about your mate. However, when done gently and sweetly, it will hold most relationships together through thick and thin.
2. Next in line in importance after God must be your partner. It cannot be anyone or anything else such as a pet, one’s family of origin, a job or career, or a trusted friend.
If someone or something becomes more important than your partner, the relationship is in trouble. Bring it to your partner’s attention at once and discuss the problem. It can and often does mean the relationship is not working.
3. Have shared work or shared purpose. This gives the partners more to think about and talk about together. Otherwise, it is easy to drift apart and not have time for each other.
4. Be sure to communicate and act openly with each other. Set aside time and practice just talking openly with each other every day for at least 15 minutes or more. Sitting or lying down together is best for this, rather than while eating or on the run.
Do not let this slip away or be forgotten for any reason. It builds trust and solves problems, too. If you are not communicating and acting openly, trust wanes, suspicion builds, and usually the relationship will fall apart.
Many people are not good at communication, so patience and persistence are needed. Be sure you keep calm at all times. Use a talking stick if one person tends to interrupt the other.
The talking stick. The way this works is that as long as a person holds the stick, the other person may not interrupt. When one is finished, then one hands the talking stick, which can be any small object, to the other, who now has his or her turn to speak. It works, even if it seems corny. For more communication secrets, read Nonviolent Communication.
5. Really listen and respond to your partner. Many people do not listen well to others. They just wait until the other person has finished speaking so they can say what they want to say. This is not communicating. It is just “talking at” another person.
An excellent technique to test how well you are listening to your partner is to say to him or her, “What I think I hear you saying is …”. In other words, provide feedback to the other person about what you are hearing and understanding. Then allow the other person to comment on whether it is correct.
This way you will soon find out if you are listening closely. Or perhaps you are listening, but the other person is not expressing well what they wish to say.
6. Always maintain basic respect for your mate, regardless of how you are feeling at the time. This is a very critical rule of courtesy and consideration. For example, never raise your voice to your partner unless the person is so far away he or she cannot hear you otherwise. To raise the voice is extremely rude and disrespectful.
Other disrespectful acts are just turning your back and walking away while the other person is speaking to you. Still others are making a stupid face, swearing, rolling the eyes or speaking harshly.
When you speak with others outside of your relationship, you must also be very careful not to judge your partner or to reveal information your partner prefers to keep private. This can be difficult because some people are more open about things such as health conditions and other aspects of an intimate relationship than others.
If possible, discuss with your partner during your communication time each day what you will share with “outsiders” such as family, friends, neighbors and work associates.
Many relationships end because couples accidentally or intentionally break the rule of always maintaining respect and courtesy toward one another. Without enough trust and respect, there is little left to any relationship.
7. Real Love and caring is always the deeper answer to problems in relationships. Respecting the other is primary, but it is not enough. One must care deeply about the other to solve some relationship problems. If that caring is simply not there, it may not be possible to force it.
Some people just get along well, while others do not. This quality or aspect of a relationship can be rather unusual. It can be based on the way the person looks, feels, sounds, speaks, smells, or some other subtle feature.
This quality is a type of appreciation and joy that you should feel when you are with your partner, and that you miss when you are away from this person. This may sound romantic, and it is, to a degree.
Try to notice if you feel this way about a person before marrying, if at all possible, as it will save a lot of heartache. If you do not feel it, no matter how nice, how pretty or how smart he or she is, then do not marry this one, and seek another. This is usually better in the long run.
However, this love and caring feeling may take a few dates to develop, so if the relationship feels safe, do not judge the relationship too quickly. Many people miss out on wonderful relationships because they simply do not give it a chance. If another is interested in you, do not turn away too quickly!
On the other hand, one might initially think one loves and cares for another, but the feeling may fade after a few dates or a few months. This is a reason to have a courtship that lasts at least six months to a year before committing to marriage. By waiting this long or even longer, if needed, you will most likely know if the love and caring is there to stay or not.
8. Have right intent. Right intent means that you are entering and staying in a relationship for sound reasons. It means you are NOT mainly interested in sex, or to hanging on to another, or to use another to forget your problems, or for security and safety only.
This sounds simple, but often a person is not aware of his or her deeper needs, wounds, traumas or other factors. These hidden factors can attract you to someone when it is not really for the best. They can also cause you to turn away from someone who would really be good for you, if you only gave them a chance and gave the relationship a chance.
Be sure to review your intent often when you begin a relationship. If you are attracted, be sure to ask why. Do not just “go with the flow”, or with an obsession, infatuation or wild-eyed love. Ask yourself honestly, “What is going on here?”
Similarly, if you are not sure about another who is interested in you, try to discern your real fears, your motives and your intent.
Are you afraid of real love, for instance? Are you afraid of an equal, perhaps, who will challenge you and won’t let you get away with little lies and deceptions that you use with others? Sometimes this is the case, though certainly not always.
Sometimes there is a problem with the other person that you do not know about, but you feel it and just can’t figure it out at this time. Only if it is safe, you may want to continue the relationship until the problem becomes clear. Usually, as you learn more about another, the truth will surface if you allow it and if you keep your eyes and ears open.
Also helpful is to discern the intent of anyone you meet and date. Why is the person interested in you? This may be flattering, but at times the other person’s intent is mainly selfish in some way.
In other words, the other is somehow using you in ways that are not in accordance with the principles of this article. In this case, it is best to move on.
9. Be sure you getting the same guidance as your date or partner. This may sound odd, but it can easily break up a relationship. For example, if both partners are Christians, this is helpful because you both look to the Bible for help and counsel. However, if the religions are different, there is more likely to be differing guidance. This can lead to impasses and to situations that are difficult to resolve.
If one partner visits psychologists or psychics, while the other consults only one’s family members, this, too, can be a problem. A couple must decide who will help them through the difficult times, and both must be willing to participate.
If possible, speak to the brother-in-law together, or the priest together, or even the psychic or counselor together. If the partners have different “friends” and “guides”, things will usually fall apart.
10. Watch out for well-meaning, but misinformed friends, counselors and family members. This is related to the previous section. Some advisors, even professionals, are jealous, angry with men or with women, depressed, or physically ill. Other friends, family members or advisors are misinformed, prejudiced, or for some other reason are not wise enough to advise you about your relationship.
In fact, some advisors are simply destroyers in sheep’s clothing. Please be very careful about this.
For example, any good advisor or counselor will insist that if you want their assistance, they must meet with both of you to hear both sides of the situation.
An excellent counselor or friend will also insist that you be open and truthful about all details of your situation. For this reason, counseling may be embarrassing, though it helps many couples. For instance, if you don’t want to share intimate details of your sex life with someone, then this person is not acceptable as your counselor or advisor.
We don’t recommend most counselors and psychologists today because most have liberal and left-wing attitudes. We only recommend advisors and counselors whose attitudes are in line with the articles on this website, and that is few of them!
11. Laugh and relax together often. This is a sign of a good relationship, pure and simple. If you are often serious or somber around your partner, something is wrong. Also, if you partner feels he or she must behave in a serious and somber fashion around you, something is not right.
This is important to observe about another when you spend time with another person. People have strange reasons why they relax around some people, and cannot relax around others. As with other aspects of a relationship, this can change over time as you get to know each other.
However, beware if you are tense around another, for example, or if the other does not seem happy to be with you. There may be hidden agendas, hidden motives, or just hidden emotions that are driving the relationship.
If possible, communicate more about your values and your goals. This will help bring out hidden agendas or differences between you that are causing you to remain tense around this person. The ability to relax around your partner is a key to any successful relationship, so do not ignore this rather mild-sounding warning.
12. Appreciate each other every day, and tell each other in some way every day. This is a little trick that works well in all relationships. Everyone loves appreciation. It can be a hug, a kiss, a squeeze, a nice word, putting flowers on the table, a meal that you prepare for the other, or something else.
Some couples do this automatically, especially if they grew up in a family where this was practiced. Others grew up in silent homes, somber homes, or abusive homes where appreciation for others was not practiced. These partners will need more prodding and practice to learn this simple trick of a happy relationship.