When considering what goes into a successful marital or other coupling relationship, we might first consider what to leave out of the relationship. Those wanting a successful relationship are well advised to leave such attitudes toward your partner as: avoidance, contempt, condescension, scorn, condemnation, ridiculing, disdain, indifference, discourtesy, and manipulation out of the mix.
So, now that we know what ingredients to leave out, let’s look at some important ingredients for a successful relationship. Important qualities to possess when one wants a successful relationship are to be:
When each person in any relationship makes improvements in these ways of being, the relationship will improve. When positive intentions, good communication skills and a sense of humor are added; the relationship is more likely to flourish. Let’s consider each of these ingredients for successful relationships to more fully understand how they impact what is experienced.
To be present one has to have their attention in the present time and directed on the other person in the relationship. To be available one has to be ready to participate. When either person in a couple is not mentally in the present and focusing on the other person, it is hard to work on the relationship itself. This is not to say that those in a relationship are in the present and ready to interact with the other partner 24-7.
This is also not to say that a relationship is not enhanced by those times when one partner is in the present and listening to their partner whose attention is focused on the past or the future. In these cases it is most beneficial when there is agreement and reciprocity. When it is time to focus on the relationship, it is most helpful for both partners to have their attention on the other and be ready to participate.
The level of trust each partner in a relationship has for each other is of paramount importance. When a partner is trustworthy, their partner can rely on their integrity and character as well as be confident that what they say is true. In short, they can be relied upon to speak the truth and do what they say, to the best of their ability. This trust promotes a feeling of safety within the relationship and thus creates fertile ground for relationship success.
Relationship success is further enhanced by each partner’s receptivity to and acceptance of the other partner. Positive progress in a relationship is supported when each partner is capable, ready, and willing to receive from the other partner through verbal as well as not verbal means in a good natured manner with gladness and approval.
One of the most important qualities for partners to demonstrate to their mates is the giving and receiving of respect. Respect encompasses such qualities as genuine admiration, high opinion, reverence, and value. When we respect someone we hold them in high regard-their comfort and wellbeing are important to us. When the partners start to give particular attention and consideration toward the other, as well as to the relationship itself, by expressing special and high regard; the success of their relationship is enhanced.
Besides being genuinely respectful to one another, being forgiving is essential to success in relationship. In fact respect and forgiveness are closely tied and work together in tandem. Forgiveness means to excuse ourselves or another for a fault or an offense. Forgiveness can occur only when one chooses to forgive. Our understanding of forgiveness is enhanced when know what it is, what it is not, and how it is facilitated.
Forgiveness is not:
Believing something that happened is acceptable when it is not Condoning or excusing any unkind, inconsiderate, or selfish behavior Forgetting something happened Denying or minimizing hurt
Releasing our past to heal our present Beneficial and healing to the forgiver because it gives power, energy, peace of mind and control of feelings -especially anger and resentment— back to the forgiver Available any time whether solicited or not
Forgiveness is facilitated by:
Being responsible for ones own thoughts and feelings Understanding that we can only really control ourselves Keeping our expectations for ourselves and others realistic Being relaxed and in the moment, as much as possible
In the course of living we find that besides being respectful and forgiving, we sometimes need to be patient with our partner. We often hear “Patience is a virtue,” So what is patience and how does a relationship become more successful with more of it? One dictionary definition of patience is: having endurance and even calmness under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance or anger in a negative way. Clearly, I am not talking about being patient with abuse and suggest getting outside assistance if our partner is exhibiting abusive conduct.
What I am talking about is, as in forgiveness, we have realistic expectations of our partner. Hopefully, we have aired our “non-negotiable” lifestyle issues before getting thoroughly involved. When I think of patience, I am reminded of a quote from an anonymous source; “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.” If we miss something important in the dating/courting process and have been patiently attempting to work it out together, as much as we are capable in a situation; we can ask our partner to go to therapy to resolve the issue and gain more understanding of our partner and our self.
A partner understands when he/she comprehends and accepts his/her mate’s susceptibilities, tendencies, and inclinations. Understanding occurs when each partner is thoroughly familiar with their mate’s character and propensities and grasps the meaning and nature of their partner. The safety needed for a truly healthy relationship occurs when each partner understands and empathizes with the others qualities, struggles, and true self and commits to stay in the relationship and work out any issues that may arise between them during their lives together.
When a partner empathizes they do not actually have the same feeling as their partner in any given situation. They do however identify with the partner’s feelings. Each partner is equipped to empathize with their partner to the degree that they are able to feel and identify with their own feelings. Empathizing includes the ability to psychologically put ones self in the place of another. As when we know our partner hears what we say to them; when our partner is empathetic towards us, we feel heard and understood and thus safer and more comfortable in our relationship.
Being compassionate towards our partner goes past empathy and understanding and includes an instinctive selfless insight and feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for mankind’s as well as our partner’s misfortunes, trials and tribulations. Compassion includes hints of a hard to explain capacity within us that makes us more likely to want to assist our partner in coping with tragedy or discomfort. As opposed to rescuing, healthy compassion includes a supportive assistance which allows for the partner to feel as empowered as possible to do whatever his/her capacity allows to rectify the situation. As with empathy, the capacity to be compassionate is dependent on ones own self awareness and feeling of connectedness to human kind.
If a couple leaves out the unhelpful ingredients mentioned in the first paragraph and adds in all the ingredients suggested including good communication skills, positive intentions, and a good sense of humor; the relationship will be more successful.
It is important to mention here that in some cases couples experience unwanted unconscious patterns in their relationships. When these unconscious patterns arise, the partners may be drawn away from the benefits of the prescribed beneficial ingredients. In these cases the couple can see a relationship therapist, who can help them bring to light and heal these unwanted patterns as well as help them communicate more effectively. Once these patterns are exposed and healed success resulting from using the beneficial ingredients; presence, availability, trustworthiness, receptiveness, acceptance, respect, forgiveness, patience, understanding, empathy, and compassion will be apparent.
When the partners put this effort into their relationship it will flourish. As an additional benefit or bonus, each partner will most likely notice an improvement in all their interactions; thus the above mentioned ingredients promotes better relationships of all kinds even with oneself.
Chesley C. Swanson, MSW
“Discover the Path to Successful Relationships” http://www.ShiftToGood.com
512-773-8058 or 512-989-2511
Article Source: Relationships: Recipe for Success