You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best you have to give. – Eleanor Roosevelt
Several years ago while I was having issues in my marriage and contemplating my next steps, I began doing some research about relationships. Soliciting details from friends and friends of friends regarding what happens behind closed doors. I was planning on compiling all of the information, along with my own relationship theories, in a book. Unfortunately, my research partner was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident and I lost momentum.
Looking back now and understanding how some of those relationships are no longer or have changed, I’ve learned an incredible amount about partnerships, but still have no idea how to manage them. What makes them work? What makes them fail? I have some ideas about ensuring that you and your partner grow together and communicate. Besides that, even some of the seemingly best relationships don’t last.
I’ve watched marriages and relationships fail. Often. I’ve seen relationships where they have an open relationship, but maybe both partners don’t realize it. Infidelity runs rampant and abuse (in all forms) is far more common than anyone realizes. We always need to bear in mind that we never know what goes on behind closed doors. Any stories we hear are strictly one-sided – no matter how impartial the storyteller seems. To complicate it more, each of us comes with different perspectives due to different life experiences and our resulting personal bias and we’ll interpret things our own way as we listen – as an outsider or as part of the partnership.
I do believe in the power of positive thinking and working hard to reach goals. However, no matter how much effort we put into another person, we have no control over them. Nor should we. This is where the accepting of situations comes in. We can give something our all and still fail. We need to find compromises and keep communication flowing so that these failures aren’t hits taken from the side with no way to protect ourselves. Communication helps cushion the blow. At least it should.
When relationships fail – for whatever reason – it takes both people to keep it civil. Lies, misleading comments and hurtful comments get no one anywhere. The key is to continue to treat the other person respectfully. WAY harder to do than to say. When my marriage failed, I was the one to walk away. I tried to be respectful to him, but I failed because of my anger and my hurt. I took full responsibility for my decision to end the marriage, but held onto the disappointment and frustration of broken dreams. I’m sure most divorced people can relate to that. It’s now been a year and I’m still frustrated after a year of setbacks and high hurdles. But, all in all, I’ve kept saying to myself, “Things WILL get better,” and they have on some fronts. I’m incredibly fortunate.
I’m disappointed in myself with how I handled my recent breakup with a guy I knew just months. In no way did I approach the breakup rationally. Everything was perfect one day, then a week later, he was done. Blindsided, I was. It took me a while to accept and I went through all of the steps of healing – Shock, Pleading (I don’t think I did this), Anger, Sadness, Acceptance. Oh… forgiveness – I’m still working on that one. I know I overreacted to him. But, apparently, there were issues that I had no idea existed and, as a result, his heart was open to meet someone else.
One common theme in many breakups I’ve witnessed is the lack of communication – one of the people in the relationship is unaware that problems exist while the other is making plans to exit. It’s all perspective – what we are looking for within our situation and either we focus on the positive or focus on the negative. I, for one, tend to look for the best within people and will remain fiercely loyal. But once trust is gone, it’s gone. Lack of trust and dependability are dealbreakers for me. I’m a good communicator, but I do hold back with anything that displeases me because I don’t want to hurt the other person or criticize and push my views on anyone. I fear rejection, as most people do, so I edit communications. Grand epiphany there. Don’t most of us do the same in our relationships? We don’t want to hurt anyone with our opinions or way of doing things, so we compromise by letting things go – which is a wonderful thing. But when we do that and allow frustration or disappointment build up within us, it become destructive.
Open communication – being able to talk without fear of anger, a reprimand, tears, disappointment, as well as giving your partner the respect he/she deserves to be who they are – these are the keys to a successful relationship. We should never control another person or expect him/her to change to meet our needs. We all are who we are. We can edit ourselves, adapt and learn different ways of doing things, but we also need the freedom to be who we are – with no fear.
As we go along our journeys in life, we’ll be faced with different interpersonal challenges. We have no way of knowing what they all are in advance. We just need to learn to roll with the punches and smile at the positives. Shoulders back. Chin up. Hands relaxed and at our sides – always ready for a hug. Eyes and ears open. Analyze all you want, but keep the communication flowing and give the person you are with your best effort. Don’t we all deserve that?