Agree On Core Values and Vital Issues, and Make Respect In Your Relationship a Top Priority
Key Feature #7. You’ve come a long way down the road toward absolute respect in your relationship, which has led to more compassion and deeper intimacy. Through discussion and experience you two have established that you share important values, have agreement on vital decisions and deeply value the respect in your relationship–respect for each other’s feelings, preferences and beliefs, but also for the entity that is your Relationship.
Think of it as a three-legged stool: one leg for each of you, and one for the Relationship. Without any one of the legs, the whole thing topples. You understand that you must nurture the Relationship as much as you nurture each other. What does it take to nurture your Relationship?
You each have made a list of your requirements* (deal-breakers, must-haves), your needs* (very important but not requirements), and your wants* (the things that would be nice to have, but both could live without). The two of you have worked on these lists separately and together, and through the respect in your relationship, and discussion and negotiation between the two of you, you have come to an agreement about how to deal with everything on your lists. You have used professional pre-commitment counseling, when necessary, to arrive at agreement in this vital process.
Because of your mutual exploration of your requirements, needs and wants, you both understand what is necessary to maintain the respect in your relationship and to make the relationship viable over the long term. These discussions can and must include important topics that may come up in the relationship, such as:
•how much sex you want,
•whether there will be children,
•how you will handle money together,
•what your dreams and plans for your future together are,
•how you will handle challenges like unemployment, illness, aging parents, religious matters, politics and pets,
•as well as what kind of vehicle to own,
•how you will handle housework between you,
•down to how much salt you believe should be used in cooking.
Talking about these topics in advance of them becoming a problem is a mark of respect in your relationship. It is a matter of respect because when you respect each other, you don’t make assumptions about how your partner thinks and feels. You don’t assume she feels and believes the same as you. You talk about it to find out how each other thinks and feels about everything. That’s respect.
You understand what is most important to your partner in life and are able to respect and support each other wholeheartedly in the pursuit of each other’s life dreams. There is no need for conflict over any of the topics that have already been explored and negotiated because you both have arrived at a place of respect, acceptance and warm understanding.
You both know what the deal-breakers are so there are no surprises. You have worked hard on establishing open lines of communication that are characterized by compassion and respect in your relationship, so that even if something unexpected happens, or if some big change occurs, your relationship has the tools to handle it with great skill and compassion.
You both understand that no relationship is problem-free or completely free of disagreements. However, because you have established the habit of respect in your relationship, and of negotiation, careful listening, compassionate acceptance, and unconditional love, your relationship will likely survive intact. In your later years, you will be able to look back over a lengthy history of joy, companionship and fun.
Make Time For the Maintenance of the Relationship And For Having Fun Together
Key Feature #8. As a couple you make the time to have a regular discussion about the maintenance of the relationship itself, to talk about how things are going and whether the needs of both people are being served by the respect in your relationship. This is also the time for making plans for the future. You schedule regular time to do things together, including having fun and spending hang-out time together over and above the time spent having sex.
Whether or not you have children, you both understand the incredible value laughter and play has for the well-being of the relationship and for each of you, personally. You each recognize that sometimes your lives might become unbalanced and that it will take an effort on both parts to bring it back into balance. You both understand that fun is a good place to start when looking to rebalance your relationship, as fun is usually the first thing to go when stress, hardship, or other life challenges occur.
If you are both completely committed to respect in your relationship, to being courteous, compassionate, considerate and emotionally available to each other every day, your relationship will be successful. If you both embrace wholeheartedly the concept of “finding the yes”** when you are being asked for something by your partner, you will be using one of the most powerful tools available to maintain a relationship that feels good.
If you understand that negotiation is better than compromise, you’ll be ahead in the game. And that even if you can’t say a wholehearted “yes” to something today, there is always tomorrow, or, perhaps, a better idea in which you can try to find the ‘yes.’ At the very least, there is always hope, unconditional love, patience, and trust. At the root of all is the cornerstone respect in your relationship, and long as a couple has this, they and their relationship can thrive.
*More about the list of requirements, needs and wants in a future post, coming soon.
**More about “finding the yes” in future posts, coming soon.