By Lindy Earl
I think that, at a certain age, which may differ for all of us, we all desire to be in a healthy, committed relationship. That relationship may include a wedding ring, but for some people it doesn’t have to. The reasons may be logical more than emotional: children to consider, finances, jobs, and houses.
So whether there is a marriage or just a commitment, I find that people prefer to be in a relationship rather than alone. It’s how life works. The majority of us grew up in some sort of a family situation. Television shows and movies show family life. It’s what we innately desire. So, how do we create it?
First, please know, any relationship – with a boss, colleague, sibling, best friend, children, and definitely a Significant Other – takes work! Good relationships don’t just happen.
I met a wonderful woman a few years ago who was married to a workaholic. It was a second marriage for both of them and they were celebrating their 20th anniversary. Her spouse was known to be a bit of an ass and she didn’t deny it. At the time I was recently divorced and asked how she had made it to 20 years. She told me that she worked at the marriage every single day. Her consistent goal was to put his needs ahead of her own. He seemed to have the same idea – to put his needs ahead of hers. But, it worked. Twenty years is a milestone.
So, how do you create a healthy relationship? First, by creating a healthy relationship with yourself. Do you truly like yourself? If somebody says something negative about you, do you get defensive or blow it off? You might find a balance in there.
There have been times when somebody chastised me and I was able to acknowledge that I was wrong and correct my error. There were also times that I thought about it and realized that the misunderstanding, intentional or not, was on their side and that I hadn’t done anything wrong. My heart was good even if somebody chose to misunderstand my comment.
Let me give you a simple example that I have used before. When I walked into a room once I commented that it was raining. I hadn’t realized it and was simply surprised to see the rain pouring when I walked toward a window. The response to my comment was, “You complain about everything!”
Oh my! Did I? Do I complain about everything? When I took stock I realized that my comment was simply that . . . a comment. It was factual and accurate. Even precise. The response that I was complaining was on them. They chose to hear a comment as a complaint.
We should take stock of ourselves and make sure that we are happy with ourselves. If you like who you are, keep it up. If there are areas of your life in which you are dissatisfied, make the necessary changes.
Now, don’t start with, “I don’t like that I don’t have an SO.” We are talking about you alone right now.
Do you like your physical attributes? If you dislike your weight, then stop eating and start exercising. If you dislike your career then go back to school. Are you harboring any bitterness? Are you an angry person? Do you find yourself defensive too often? Do you like your home situation? If not then research some options. Do you hear yourself being snarky or condescending? These are all changeable and take only you and some discipline to master.
The key part of any relationship is to be happy with yourself. Once you got this then you’re ready to move on.
Second, look at the people in your life. Are they happy with themselves? Are they positive and excited when good things happen for others, specifically you? If you feel energized around somebody, then keep them in your life. Others, however, may need to go.
A friend of mine is always complaining about a friend of his. My friend has nothing nice to say about this person. I have asked him to oust the guy from his life, but they remain friends. So I hear the complaints and horror stories. My friend really needs to kill that friendship before he destroys other, good relationships, by always complaining.
Look at the people you see on a daily basis. Sort them by negative and positive. If a negative relationship can’t be cut, such as a colleague at work, then do your best to avoid them as much as possible and always keep a positive attitude around them.
In order to create good relationships, check your communication skills. Too often I don’t say something when I should, for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. I have too many examples and they all seem petty after the fact, but in truth, my reputation has been compromised due to poor communication. Here is a silly example. I once asked a person how to spell a last name. Their response was, in my position, I should know. Well, they were wrong in that I hadn’t been in the role that they assigned me. But I went along and got along and left that person with the belief that I should have known better. How silly of me! But I didn’t want to point out that they were wrong. I was young and stupid as well as wrong. Confrontation is simply hard for me but I’m slowly learning. Good communication helps.
Good communication is never in-your-face rude. It’s simply asking questions or confirming information in a calm voice. It is writing an email stating information to ensure that everyone is on the same page. It is taking the time to write a thank you note to let others know that you appreciate their effort. It is telling people, straight out, no matter how much it embarrasses you the first time you do it (it gets easier and more natural with time) that they are important to you.
The next step to a good relationship is time. If you are too busy for someone, or they are too busy for you, then acknowledge that they just aren’t that important to you. People find time for good relationships. In creating a new relationship, commit to a certain amount of time together. The good news is that you can have a simple conversation stating how much time you desire with someone, and they can agree, disagree, or negotiate. I dated one gentleman a few years ago and he was happy to see me one night each weekend, when I wanted both evenings and a weeknight. Now you know why we aren’t dating anymore. His next SO lived in another state, which was perfect for him – a relationship without a time commitment other than phone calls and occasional visits.
If you failed to ensure a sufficient number of commonalities when you entered a relationship, now is the time to view this aspect. I am such a sports girl that I prefer to date guys who like football as much as I do. If your Sunday mornings are all about church then you might want to find someone who shares your beliefs. If you believe weekends are for goofing off then maybe don’t date someone who thinks weekends are for house projects and work.
As I said, if you missed this before, now is the time to review it and make a commitment to support your partner in their interests. You may not want to paint, but maybe you can enjoy reading while they paint, so you are together. If you cannot tolerate their musical tastes, then can you be happy sending them off to a concert with other friends? Supporting our mates is an important part of a relationship.
Creating a lasting, committed relationship takes a lot of work, but can be done. It’s better to start from the beginning of a new relationship, but working at a relationship will improve an existing relationship and may salvage a broken relationship. Open up communication lines. Commit to being honest, something that wasn’t discussed because it is expected.
You can create wonderful relationships! Start by ensuring that you’re happy with yourself, then move on to creating or improving relationships with everyone, especially your SO.
I would love to hear from you. Please comment and share your thoughts. If you like this article please share with your network!
Lindy is a Consultant, Speaker, and Writer, currently living in Atlanta, GA. She is The Business Coach focusing on Relationships through Communication, Leadership, and Corporate Culture. You will be more successful with Lindy on your team. Please contact her at LMEarl@EarlMarketing.com.