What it takes for Relationship Success
Relationship success is not a secret formula. I have been a Relationship Specialist for nine years. I have counselled so many couples that have found themselves lost in their relationship and lost hope of what they thought a relationship was supposed to be. We all have an idea what we believe a relationship should be like. These ideas may have developed through our parents, friends, movies or books.
I see a lot of clients who will ring up and ask me to “fix” their husband or “fix” their wife. When things don’t go according to plan or according to a preconceived notion of what a relationship should be like, then someone needs to change. Exactly what needs to change is different for each couple. These changes could include communication, intimacy, quality time, anger management, past emotional baggage, traumas, phobias, financial issues, infidelity, careers, parenting and the list could go on and on.
What I have learnt through my client’s experiences and through years of continuous professional development is:
Just because you’re doing things differently, it doesn’t mean that you’re wrong”
What I mean is, just because two people have different ways of handling a situation it doesn’t mean someone needs “fixing.” It’s more a case of adjustment and acceptance rather than “fixing” or changing someone. Flexibility is the key to a successful relationship. You need to be flexible in how you think, feel and behave.
You need to be flexible to:
- Change things that aren’t working for you, your partner and the relationship
- Know when to back down and when to back off
- See things from someone else’s point of view
- Be open to learning new ways of dealing with situations.
It is really important that before you start a relationship with someone, that you have a good relationship with yourself. Here is the eternal question: Who are you? When I ask clients this question I get a lot of answers like:
- I am a Plumber
- I am a wife
- I am a Mum, Dad, Son, Daughter
- I am a Lawyer
- I am an Entrepreneur
- I am a Builder
- I am a Hairdresser
- I am a Teacher
- I am confused
- I am Angry
- I am Hurt
- I am lost
The answers reflect what the client does or how they feel but it does not answer the question of who are they? This question is a really deep, soul-searching question. In order to answer this question I would like you to consider this: we’re all born with positive intentions and we’re all born with love. It may not feel like it due to personal experiences or situations you may have endured however, the truth is, we are all born with the same energy, or love and light.
Answering this question can help you understand that you’re not your job, you’re not your career, you’re not what you own (materialistically), you’re not your health, you’re not your age, you’re not your problems. You are more than that! The simpler you’re able to answer the question, the more profound the answer will be for you. Take the time to consider the question and consider the answer to “Who are you?”
What do you bring to the Relationship?
A relationship is a joint venture between two people. It requires participation from both people to have a relationship. Each person is responsible for bringing something to the relationship.
What are you bringing to your relationship?
- A good, positive attitude?
- A good sense of humour?
- Good problem solving skills?
- A good balance between work and home life?
- Encouragement and praise?
- Affection and intimacy?
- Support and guidance?
- Fun and adventure
- A good understanding of what you like
- A good understanding of what you dislike?
- A set of values and standards that are working for you?
- Do you find it easy to make life decisions
- Positive beliefs about yourself and life in general?
As I mentioned before, clients call me to “fix” their partners all the time. However, each person is responsible for themselves. Rather than focus on what is “wrong” with your partner or what they need to “fix” why not focus on yourself. Why not look at how you are in the relationship. If you’re able to do that, if you’re able to focus on yourself then you are 100% in control of making changes right now! If you know things need to change in the relationship, why not start with something you can actually make happen? Why not start with something you can put your time and energy into and something you will know for sure is working?
If you start with yourself, then you will need to know as much about yourself as possible. The more information you know and understand about yourself the easier it is to make things work in the relationship. Why does this make it easier? It’s easier because you know what you like and what you don’t. You know what makes you happy and what doesn’t and you know what you need and what you don’t need.
The first step is to know and learn as much about yourself as possible. The second step is to share what you know! You can’t expect your partner to tune in and mind read you. Well actually, that happens all the time but think about how much room for error there is when you expect someone to just know things about you.
When you expect people to pick up your moods and guess what they could do to help you through situations, it makes it really difficult to get it right. The more you know about you and the more you share this information, the less conflict you will attract. Another benefit is when you have any conflicts in the relationship, you’ll be able to explain your thoughts, feelings and your needs because you know what they are!
If you go into a relationship without any idea of who you are and what you want, imagine how much harder it is to deal with situations when they arise. It is harder because you are working through issues, emotions and thoughts. At the same time you’re expecting your partner to have answers, understand the situation and what you’re feeling and thinking. You want them to know what to do about it, right now, in order for you to feel better! How exhausting is that!
When two people enter a relationship they are bringing a lot of stuff with them about their past, their upbringing, culture, religion, spirituality, friendships, traumas, careers, achievements, failures and perhaps baggage from past relationships. When conflict arises in the relationship people think the issues are because of the relationship or because of their partner. However, many issues in relationships are just a reflection of the difficulties you’ve experienced in your life.
Working on Yourself For Relationship Success
What I mean is the issues that arise in a relationship can actually be a shadow of the same issues you’ve already experienced somewhere else, with someone else in your past. And when the issues come up in the present relationship it can make you over react, or become extremely emotional because you’re not only dealing with the current issue, you’re also dealing with the situation that happened in your past that may still be unresolved. This is why it is important to know and understand yourself and have a good sense of who you are. It is important that you work on yourself through life to resolve issues that have not yet been resolved. It is important to make peace within yourself over situations that have caused you to feel hurt or upset.
It’s important to learn and grow as an individual and it is important to be flexible and to do things differently when you need to. You are bringing so many things to your relationship without even realising it consciously. You are bringing knowledge, life lessons and understandings about yourself and that adds great value to the relationship. The ability to be flexible and the ability to focus on yourself and who you are in life will build a strong relationship with your partner but it will also build a strong relationship with yourself. It will help you believe in yourself, trust yourself, love yourself, forgive yourself. It will help you be in control of your choices in life and in control of how you react and how you feel and think.
If you’re able to work on yourself and focus on what you can change in life then you will go through life with a lot less conflict. If you don’t choose to work on yourself and you choose to focus on your partner and what they need to change, then you may be waiting a long time. For example, if you’ve ever wanted to lose weight because it would make you feel good about yourself you might not have done anything about straight away. Maybe it took a long time before you did anything about it because you had to talk yourself into it and it took time for you to build your motivation around it. Then you realized it takes a lot of effort to make changes. Imagine how much harder it is to go through all this just because someone else wants you to do it.
A person with a low self esteem tries to change the other person. They will look to find all the problems they believe their partner has and will focus on those issues. They believe when their partner changes, the relationship will be better and they will be happier. A person with a poor sense of self will always believe they are right and their partner is wrong. They will not be flexible in their thinking and they will be hyper critical because the more they can focus on their partners faults, the less attention will be drawn to their own faults.
No one wants to be wrong and no one wants to the bad guy. A successful relationship requires both people to work on themselves to be the best people they can be. You want to be bringing the best you possible to your relationship. Relationships shouldn’t be hard work but they should include consistent effort from both partners. A relationship is about going to be as good as what you are bringing to it. There are 3 parts to a relationship to determine its success.
Three Parts to Create A Relationship
A relationship is made of many parts. Let’s break it down into three parts. We can even call these parts perspectives if you like.
Relationship Part One
Part one is you. This part is about who you are and what you bring to the relationship. You are in complete control when it comes to you. This part is about how you think, how you feel, how you act and react, how you support your partner, how you show love and affection, how you spend your time between work and home life, how you dress, how you feel about yourself, your attitude, your commitment, and your praise.
Isn’t it great to know that you are able to make all the difference in the relationship based on your actions and reactions? If you can be accountable for yourself and how you behave in the relationship you are on your way to an awesome relationship already.
Relationship Part Two
Part two is your partner. Your partner is responsible for themselves, their actions, reactions and behavior. Your partner is responsible for 50% of the relationship. If there are issues with your partner it is going to take time, patience and acceptance in order to work through any changes. This part is going to be an issue specifically if your partner has issues that are classed as deal breakers.
Deal Breakers That Impact Relationship Success:
- Alcohol abuse
- Drug Abuse
- Sex addiction
Actually any type of addiction can be considered a deal breaker if you are not able to work through it and if it causes problems for the relationship. We all have different standards and different morals and what may seem like a deal breaker to one person may not be considered a deal breaker to another person. This is where you would want to be really clear about your personal boundaries. You would want to know upfront if there are any issues that your partner is bringing into the relationship that you may consider a deal breaker. Deal breakers are not just about your partner. This is a good time to consider any deal breakers that you may have personally brought to the relationship too.
Your partner is going to be able to make a huge difference to the relationship if they do their 50% of the relationship.
So what would they need to do to make up their 50%?
- Participate in the relationship
- Spend time with you
- Listen to you
- Ask questions
- Work towards joint goals
- Discuss their thoughts and dreams with you
- Talk about any addictions that they may have struggled with or are still struggling with
- Show love and affection
- Quality time
There are plenty of things your partner can do in order to be present in the relationship. Do not expect them to mind read you. Be honest, open and upfront and tell them what you need from them so that they have the opportunity to make you happy. If they focus on how they act and react and you are doing the same then we should have 100% improvement.
Relationship Part Three
The third part is the relationship. In order for the relationship to be fantastic it will depend on what part one and part two are putting into it. If you consider the analogy of a relationship to a bank account, then you would need to consistently put money into the bank account to build into something worth having.
You would need to put your time and energy into making the money to put into the bank account. You have to be clear on the goal you’re setting in terms of how much money you are planning on creating in your bank account. You may need to be creative in terms of how to make the money in the first place. When times are tough and you think you’re going really well and then you open the mail to big pile of bills, then you need to reassess the goal and make some decisions.
Sometimes it might feel like you’re going great and other times it may feel like you are taking a step backwards, however if you are clear on your goals and what you want to achieve you will keep going and you will find the inspiration and motivation to make things happen.
Relationship Success Is A journey, Not A Destination.
Relationships should start with the first step of making a decision or commitment. Once you’ve made the decision you want to have a great relationship then it will take a certain amount of small consistent steps. It will take your time, your energy, your creativity and your motivation to make your relationship great. In the relationship, it depends on what each partner is ‘putting in’ and ‘taking out’ as to the quality and certainty of the relationship. It won’t always be rosy either because your relationship will progress through stages.
When things are not going well in our relationships we begin to question the quality of our relationship, we question our partner and the longevity of the relationship. When we look at our friends relationships we can only assume what their relationship is like. We may see only the good things that our friends are experiencing. We may notice the positive communication between the couple, we may notice the quality time they spend together or the gifts shared between them or displays of affection. Just because we notice these things in our friend’s relationships, doesn’t mean that they are happy 100% of the time. It doesn’t mean they don’t argue or fight. It doesn’t mean that they are having sex every night! It means that you are seeing what you want to see. You are seeing all the things that you would like to have in your own relationship.
Witnessing these qualities in other relationships can reinforce the fact that your own relationship is lacking in any one or more of those areas that you witnessed in your friends relationship. However, what we “see” is not always necessarily the truth. We really don’t know what people are going through in their personal relationships or what someone else is really putting up with behind closed doors in the privacy of their own home. If you are able to talk with your friends with the purpose of learning new skills to implement in your own relationship, you may go a long way towards achieving your goal. If your friends have a relationship that seems to be something wonderful to you, something that you would like to have yourself, then talk to them about it. Use them as a role model.
It is a shame people are not willing to open up and share aspects of their relationships with others. They are happy to share the good times but not willing to share the problems that they experience and how they resolved them. There is no success without failure. We learn from experience and mistakes. We learn how to do things and how not to do things. We learn how to treat people by the response we get. By focusing on only the success in the relationships of others it may appear that they have a great relationship, great communication, commitment, affection and it may appear to be “perfect”. By advertising this “ideal” relationship, others may feel inferior and feel they have less or feel they are failing and not doing it right. What’s right for some relationships isn’t always right for another.
It’s important to know Relationships are NOT:
- Conflict free
- Happy all the time
- Filled with continuous orgasmic sex
- Two Soul mates together for eternity
- Secure and safe all the time
- Fun and adventurous all the time
Relationships are a work in progress and each conflict can bring more resolution and solutions to challenge. With that challenge comes more learning and personal growth. Relationships aren’t meant to be perfect and they aren’t meant to make us happy. Although we all want to be happy in our relationship, it’s our personal responsibility to make ourselves happy – not our partners.
It is our personal responsibility to make ourselves happy.
We are the only ones who can do that. We must be accountable for our life’s own successes and failures. We need to understand ourselves and share our true self with others. Once we become more comfortable within ourselves, the more we allow our true selves to be known to others. By allowing ourselves to have relationships with others we are choosing which self we are taking into the relationship.
Depending on which choice you make. i.e., whether you take your real self into the relationship or your ideal self into the relationship, will determine your outcome, and the longevity and success of the relationship. Not only will the relationship be successful but you will learn to evolve and grow and improve on who you are if you dare risk sharing the real you with your partner. It is much easier to live one life rather than split it into two lives. You can just be yourself and work with that and put energy into developing that self further or you can choose to make up who you want to be and share parts of you and hide parts of you and try and remember who gets to see which part of you and wow, that can get exhausting, confusing, frustrating and self defeating.
Normalising your situation by learning what others are experiencing can be a relieving and enlightening experience. Being able to understand aspects of relationships such as how others relate to each other and how they show love, how they communicate, how they give and receive affection, how they resolve conflicts and what they argue about will teach you a lot of new tools of what to do and what not to do. By opening up to each other we can take our relationships to a deeper level.
There are many pressures in today’s society with the media publicising divorce rates and celebrities teaching us the love ‘em and leave ‘em style of relationships. In times gone by, people learnt to make their bed and lay it. Now we learn that if you’re not happy with the bed you made just go find another one. Traditions are going out the window with today’s learning’s of instant gratification. Everything we have today is outdated the moment it is purchased. Children are being taught to measure their worth by what they own. Nothing is made to last today and it is a shame that this principle is being applied to relationships.
It all comes down to knowing yourself. How well you know yourself will determine how much of yourself you are willing to share with your partner. Allowing your partner to know the real you can be scary and make you feel vulnerable but it means that you are building a foundation for your relationship that is real and strong. The only way to build a strong foundation is to start with the truth and bring your real self to the relationship, share your true thoughts and feelings, goals and dreams.
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