Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it. ~ Abraham Lincoln: Letter to H.L. Pierce, April 6, 1859
Relationships are sometimes a quagmire of emotion, misunderstandings, and unmet expectations. Rather than feeling free and joyful, we often find ourselves feeling trapped and frustrated. I sometimes hear people lament, “I was really happy before we got together. I think I’m better off alone.” Despite the challenges of relationships, we all have boundless opportunities for intimacy and joy in a partnership. It’s just a matter of practicing what really works and giving up those things that get in our way.
The main ingredients of healthy partnerships are effective communication, compatibility, authenticity, commitment, and love. The “secret” element, however, is acceptance; it’s a hidden but integral part of every other ingredient. Acceptance truly helps all relationships because it is a gift of freedom.
Living in Austin, Texas, can be difficult in the summer heat. Interestingly, when I ask people about it, they generally have an easy-going attitude. The reason for this is that they see it as a “natural” occurrence, a fact of life. Yet those same people don’t see relationships in the same light. When we think about it, people agree that failures and emotions are a part of life. We intellectually understand no one is perfect and that even our best friends will sometimes let us down or get angry with us. Unfortunately, when it actually happens, when one’s spouse or girlfriend becomes highly emotional or behaves contrary to his desire, the response is frequently frustration, surprise, and resentment. Emotions and mistakes in relationships are natural but we often don’t see them that way.
Acceptance in relationships says, “People in my life, including those I’m closest to, are going to make blunders, and more than occasionally will be angry, sad, depressed, or scared. I accept this as natural. I don’t condone the mistakes of others, but I don’t judge them either. Instead, I practice compassion and seek to understand them. I see emotion as part of the tapestry of life, something we all are learning to deal with. I don’t shy away from emotion; it’s life. I’m also not a doormat: I practice dealing with the ups and downs of others as effectively as I can. I speak up about wrong-doing. I listen to others’ frustrations with me with a willing ear, but I don’t tolerate abuse.”
Acceptance leads to freedom in relationships because one is no longer tied down by the bonds of expectation and demand. A person can still desire and hope for certain outcomes; but with acceptance, he frees himself from the result, whatever it may be. Acceptance is the gift of freedom to others and to oneself.
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Freedom in Relationships with Acceptance – Article © 2009
To create love: be true to yourself; know yourself and listen to what your partner is really saying; choose someone you’re attracted to, someone who fits you; know your role in the relationship; make a firm commitment and love actively.
It helps to be “into each other.” Ask yourself: is this person someone you really want to spend your time with; is he truly interested in you for who you are? If he takes you for granted now, he’ll use and discard you. In addition, sustaining a relationship because “he’s such a good person” can be a formula for heartache for both of you. Lack of chemistry may lead to ambivalence and this is poison for a relationship. On the other hand, chemistry is a poor foundation for a long-term relationship; it’s great to have but it’s only a start. The infatuation will end. Don’t commit yourself to a relationship without the following six ingredients.
Compatibility is a simple requirement that we often ignore because we think love will solve our problems. It won’t. Are you on the same page? You must know the requirements you aren’t willing to compromise in a relationship; and then you’ve got to make sure your partner agrees with you. Hoping that he’ll change his mind later on is unrealistic; it’s not likely to happen. Issues you need to resolve early in a relationship include finances, children, marriage and spirituality.
Do you really know how to listen? Listening is not a passive endeavor, it requires an active desire to know what others want to say and mean. Is your partner more emotional or more thoughtful? Knowing how to honor a person’s feelings and to respect someone’s thoughts is an important aspect of communication. Do you know how to get your point across without blaming or humiliating your partner? Speaking respectfully and honestly is as crucial as listening. Equally important, does your partner communicate well?
Do you know who you are, how you feel and what you want? Unless you’re willing to stand up for yourself, you can’t create a good relationship. If you’re a people pleaser, if you deny your feelings until you explode or if you repeatedly sabotage relationships, you aren’t being authentic. Authenticity is speaking the truth about yourself. It requires that you love yourself enough to say yes or no and mean it. If you’re authentic, you recognize and acknowledge your shortcomings. Only by seeing yourself honestly can you see your partner honestly. Lack of authenticity makes relationships roller-coasters of deception and emotion.
Identity in the Relationship
Along with authenticity, identity in the relationship is a crucial marriage and courtship ingredient that’s often overlooked. Who is masculine and who is feminine in the relationship? Who thinks or feels more? It doesn’t work to assume answers to these questions. Most couples still want the man to lead and the woman to follow. However, we live in an age which acknowledges women’s leadership and men’s emotions. Knowing which role is true for both you and your partner will help you avoid power struggles. Sharing the role of leadership seldom works; a primary leader is needed in love. But, leadership does not mean dominance. Power is shared and each partner must understand the source of his or her power. Masculine power is different from feminine power.
Without commitment no relationship exists. The single biggest cause of failed relationships is not money, chemistry, compatibility or even communication; it’s ambivalence – a lack of commitment. Commitment is a testament of love.
Love is the essential ingredient of a good relationship. A partial definition of love is the feeling that one has for another. A more complete definition includes one’s treatment of another; love respects, honors, cherishes, forgives and is compassionate. Unless you actively love, the feelings you have are irrelevant. It’s important that your partner love you also, but look first at your own actions.
Life Coach Austin Texas
How to Create a Good Relationship © 2007
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up. ~ Joseph Barth
Marriage brings great rewards of loving intimacy and heart-wrenching emotional turbulence. We frequently cope with this apparent conflict with ambivalence, which makes true joy in marriage impossible. Concerning love, you cannot be of two minds and yet hope to experience her riches. Time and again we discard commitment in marriage before we’ve unearthed its great treasures of self awareness and humility. We opt for divorce as a means of dealing with the pain. Yes, there is a time to let go and a time to remain. But know that emotional pain is not the problem; it’s the symptom. It’s a call for healing, growth and understanding. Make a commitment to oneness and you create the possibility of experiencing true love. You can move beyond the doubt and hesitation by looking honestly into your heart. As you deal with your own fears and failures you will see your partner with greater clarity and compassion. This is the path of surrender and vulnerability that leads to joy in marriage or letting go in peace. Your commitment to love lights the way past suffering to wisdom. We are all connected in love and marriage is our best chance to manifest that truth.
Life Coach Austin Texas
Marriage – Dangerous Ambivalence or Joyful Commitment? © 2007
1 Timothy 1:5
…love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.