What is needed for maintaining healthy relationships?
“Truly, we can’t say thank you enough for the millions of ways that we have to show up for each other to keep love going…”
Lelo, one of the largest vibrator manufacturers in the world, launched a feature film and guess what – it’s not about sex. Instead, the film depicts a futuristic world where men and women have come to live apart, in an apocalypse of relationships. The film points to the immediacy and urgency of re-learning the dying art of loving, healthy relationships.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner and all of its collateral damage, there isn’t a better time to reflect on our ability and willingness to not only work on our healthy relationships, but even more deeply, to figure out how to truly inhabit them in a healthy, positive way.
Valentine’s Day is, ironically, one of the highest times of the year where many relationships suffer. Break ups are shockingly common around this time, as it is the day when our ideals about love collide with reality, often with long-lasting, painful results. Reconciling with how our relationships fall short of our needs and expectations should be a part of our daily dialogue, as this is the very conversation that often opens the way to gratitude for our loved one.
Each time I believe I am reaching a breaking point in my marriage and have the courage to express what I feel, my relationship and my husband step up to fill the gaps. We end up a few steps ahead – each of us with a new understanding of how things break down between us and how speaking up sooner is always better.
I don’t know why or how we have come to believe that silence is golden. That adage might hold true when you are trying to put a baby to bed, but in the artful dance of staying in love, keeping your issues to yourself and not asking for what you need are among the top two reasons that love fails us. How and what we have the courage to communicate is the currency of your love.
And so, on Valentine’s Day, we are often forced to encounter all that remains unsaid, and all the ways that we isolate ourselves from the people we profess to love the most.
Bottom line- nothing unsaid goes away or disappears from the equation of your love. Instead, it seeps into the foundation of your connection, shape shifting into a distorted version of the love you began with. Only the courageous act of speaking our hearts and perhaps, the even more courageous act of listening without reacting- has the power to maintain our ever vulnerable bonds.
I have suffered for many a Valentine’s Day, not to mention birthdays and Christmas, with the stubborn idea that my husband should know what I want. I naively, and stubbornly, thought that asking for what I wanted somehow diminished the offering, the spoken word, or gift. The fantasy that our partner should or would know what would make us happy keeps us from happiness. And yet, we remain dedicated to this common form of healthy relationships suicide, rather than taking the responsibility of saying what we want.
Sure, there are times that even when I speak up I don’t get exactly the relationship I believe that I want or deserve, but at least it is not for lack of clarity. It’s due to an issue I can hopefully come to pinpoint and work on.
The Love That YOU Want
And this brings me to the final nail in the coffin that we willingly pound into our beloved healthy relationships- The idea that we get the love that we want, the way we want it, when we want it. Only the smallest of lucky children get this kind of love, although even recently I was doubting my 30-year marriage over the disparity of my idea of my marriage and its reality. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that my desires were wrong or even inappropriate, it’s that ultimately it doesn’t matter. Whether we walk down the aisle or sign a lease with someone, we are often without our own recognition agreeing to love those people as they are, in the way that they can love us back. Mind you, this is 30-some years later and I still find myself slipping into a place where the love I have is not good enough.
Healthy Relationships: How To Maintain Love When It’s Hard
The antidote is not a correction in my relationship- so much as it is a willingness to live in the relationship that I have. It is solely my perspective that makes my relationship worthy, and believe me, there are days and sometimes unfortunate weeks that I cannot find the way there. I have told you of my no-fail mind shifts before, but in the spirit of Valentines Day– here they are one more time…
- Imagine, in full detail, life without your loved one… the horrid call that life with them has ended due to some unthinkable accident. Experience the broken-heartedness of them suddenly gone and then ask yourself- really how bad is it?
- Hold what you love most about your partner in one hand, next to what is most challenging in the other… What is the true balance of your relationship?
Love is the hardest work we do in a lifetime and also offers us the most gentle teaching and deepest evolution we can hope for. Here’s to your imperfect, perfect love….
Wendy Strgar,is the founder of GoodCleanLove – a website that sells organic and natural sexual intimacy products, and also a source of medical research for women and men’s sexual health. She is the author of Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy. Her blog www.makinglovesustainable.com was named as the best sex/relationship blog by Intent.com for 2011 and has been listed many times as one of the best 100 relationship blogs on the web.
Submit your story or essay to Buzzworthy Blogs.