To begin, let’s understand that adult relationships are intricate in nature. Relationships don’t conform to the idea that one size fits all: what works for one won’t for another, because people and the relationships they form are unique. Because all relationships are unique, there can’t be a single set of guidelines that will automatically make all relationships perfect.
Relationships are usually based on a shared pastime or attraction, but beyond even that it’s impossible to set forth a single reason relationships form. If there are prescripts that define a relationship, they’re set by the couple themselves.
While there are no comprehensive rules for the conduct of a relationship, there are deeper elements of a relationship that can be identified. Without these elements, it’s doubtful that the relationship will last.
First, a relationship must have effective communication if it’s going to succeed. This means the opening of hearts and sharing of things like hopes and plans for the future. It’s easy to talk about the morning’s headlines or last night’s television program. Real communication, though, requires real honesty and sharing. Communication isn’t always deep and soul-shaking, of course – couples talk about the problems they’re facing at work, about troubles within their families, and the things they’re feeling themselves. They often share daily scheduling information, for instance – not as a control issue, but one of respect and love: if there’s an emergency, it’s critical that a couple be able to get in touch with each other.
Sharing their feelings with each other is another crucial aspect of good communications. Good communication requires that couples share with each other their hurts and failure, their grief and shame, as well as their victories. The next foundation of a great relationship flows easily from the first.
The second great foundation of good relationships is honesty. Not only must honesty be present at a relationship’s conception, it must be mutual – if either partner in the relationship is dishonest with the other, the relationship will be weakened. There’s an inclination at the beginning to over-romanticize a relationship and for couples to put each other on a pedestal – part of the purpose of honesty in a relationship relates to understanding and accepting that one’s partner is simply human and actually mortal.
If one of the partners in a relationship discovers that the other has lied, a shadow is cast on everything that’s transpired between them, and from then on will always be the nagging question, “Is this the truth?”It’s said that the truth hurts, but it’s also said that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. An honest expression of ideas and feelings, even if it sometimes disillusions or even hurts the other partner, is important to the long-term survival of the relationship.
If the relationship is one of true love, the last foundation will easily grow – forgiveness.While we don’t like to acknowledge our fallibility, nobody’s perfect. The power to forgive is a gift granted us by God. Too often, partners in a relationship will claim to forgive each other, but in the heat of a dispute will dredge up these past sins they claim to have forgiven. Forgiveness doesn’t mean storing transgressions away like ammunition for use later on – it means erasing them and moving forward. If a couple is unable to forgive one one another it’s difficult to trust expressions of love they may share with each other.
These three factors – communication, trust and forgiveness – form the basis of a long and happy relationship. If even one is missing, the relationship is in jeopardy, and if the couple wants to stay together it’s critical that they both attend to developing the missing foundational elements.
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