Friday, July 27, 2012

What it takes to make any type of relationship work

The divorce rate in the United State is steadily climbing, there doesn't seem to be a social stigma associated with divorce these days, and the trend to leave the problem versus trying to find a acceptable solution seems to have become the standard.  Trust me when I tell you that this concept has come from years of trial and error, mistake upon mistake, and really the answer was right in front of my face the entire time.  The term relationship is being used in the broadest term here to include every type of relationship whether sexual, friendship, companion, acquaintance and so forth.  Relationships are fragile things at first, full of awkward moments and situations. It takes time and patience to cultivate long standing relationships.  I know you have all heard people saying that if you are in a relationship you have to learn to compromise.  Unfortunately, this is only a part of the equation when it comes to making a long lasting relationship.

There is a way to make permanent and lasting relationships, but it is going to take work and effort on your part.  I know you have been told in the past that the secret to a successful relationship was compromise, and it is a key ingredient, but I think along with compromise you have to be totally open minded. You have to be willing to accept new things and make changes to accommodate the relationship.  This is more than just being willing to compromise. You have to be willing to look at things differently, you are going to have to work at accepting the other persons inputs and suggestions, and it is learning how to keep your opinions to yourself and not let the little things bother you.  I realize that many of you have habits and certain ways of doing things, this is what helps make you who you are.  But, by being open to the other persons suggestions, criticisms and the way they do things you might realize that some of the things that you do could be done differently and more easily.  Honestly, the big thing here is communication and understanding.  Not trying to make your friend or partner conform to your ideal way of doing things, relaxing your control.

Control is a major issue and something that you have got to learn to give up, you have to have trust and faith that the other person is doing what they can to help you and make the situation better.  Control is a thing that can make or break a relationship, when you relax your control and expectations you will find that talking about issues and coming up with workable solutions becomes much easier.  Further, you are going to be able to share everything, your possession, you time, your life and money and there is going to be a lot less friction. It is hard to release control, it is hard to surrender to someone else, but if you honestly trust that person you will get there.  I will be honest this was the hardest thing for me. I never wanted to share things, what was mine was mine and if you wanted to use something you had to ask.  This is not a conducive behavior to make for a lasting sexual relationship, it may be okay for friendships but a true partner is the joining of two individuals into one.

So here we are talking about relationships and issues, but what I want to talk about is how to make them work and last the test of time.  I have friends that I met in high school that I am still friends with today. One of them is my best friend John, we have been friends forever. He may disagree with me on the exact number of years but it has to be getting close to 15 or more years by now. Because I lived in Atlanta for 13 years and we knew each other before I ever went to Atlanta.  He also came up there and we went to school together.  So it has been a long time.  But the secret to this is that we have been there for each other, we each have given time and support to each other and we continue to do so to this day.  But, how does it all begin? How do you approach a friendship or relationship in a manner that is conducive to cultivating a life long result?  Well, honestly it helps if you have common goals and interests, likes, and can spend time with one another, you get to know the person and you are open and honest with them and let them get to really know you.  You share everything, your hopes, dreams, secrets, loves, interests, desires, truly everything...holding nothing back.  This is the best way to really develop the type of relationship that I am talking about.

Remember that when two people come together it is usually for the benefit of each ones need to complete something or reach a common goal.  In a sexual relationship this might be ending your loneliness and building a life and home together...or whatever.  But remember this partnership is just like a corporate partnership. Each one has to do their part and give their support when and where it is needed in order for it to succeed. As you get to know the other person and them you, and you are honest and open with them and show them your real self, a deep form of trust is developed and that is the foundation on which you are going to build from.  It is so important to be truly open and honest with the other person, to really let your walls down and let them get to know the real you.  Let them know the good parts as well as the bad parts. Equally they have to do the same with you in order for this to work.  Trust me as time goes by you are going to see that they have accepted you for who you are, they enjoy being around you sincerely, they understand you and accept your strengths and your weaknesses, they tolerate your flaws, and guess what they know you well enough that they can speak their mind and truly let you know how they feel.  You can accept there comments and criticism knowing that they are not trying to hurt you that they are trying to keep you from getting hurt or walking into danger. These are the people that would take a bullet for you just because they love you and don't want to see you hurt.  They are there for your when your world is crashing down around your ears and they are the ones that are with you when you start to pick up the pieces and rebuild your life again.

How did you get that way?  I will tell you! You came to accept them totally and fully for who they are, you understand them, and you know what they are thinking and how they are going to react to different situations.  You realize that over the time you have spent together that you and they react the same and feel the same in just about all situations. You are kindred spirits, partners, and somehow they have become your best friend. It won't be long till you realize that you don't want to live with out them, and that you probably couldn't.  When entering into a sexual relationship you really need to take the time and make them a friend and build and grow from there.  Let me be totally frank with you, if you take it slow and enter every contact with a person the same way, with the intention of making a life-long friendship you might be surprised to find that your relationships are going to be more solid and last a lot longer.  I know this because up until a couple of years ago that is how I handled my life and situations and I was in two 7 year relationships, a 5 year relationship then a 12 year relationship.  So, it can work just like I said.  The problem was for me that somehow I lost myself and got wrapped up in the 12 year relationship that I didn't follow the right process.

The funny thing about relationships, is that they all can vary in nature, and have a very delicate balance within them.  If something happens that is unexpected and you and your partner are not ready for the change, everything can turn upside down immediately and if your aren't of the same mind you will never be able to get it right again.  For example in my 12 year relationship, I was the one that made the least amount of money, I was the one that sort of relied and depended on the other person for support and guidance, and when I went to school and got my masters degree, and the money situation changed and I was the one make the most money and wanted to control the direction of things, everything went out of balance, and neither one of us were prepared for the change, and one of us wanted to be in control and the other one was used to being in control..things just never worked out or got better.  The problems was we forgot how to communicate, held in what was bothering us, our goals and dreams had seemed to change, but honestly that was an illusion.  We both still wanted the same things but couldn't navigate the changing structure and nature of the relationship and fighting and discord became common place.  We ended up throwing it all away.

The simple fact that the person that has the least interest in the relationship has the most control over the relationship, and when the balance is compromised if you both don't come together to hammer out the issues and address them quickly you will find yourself in a similar situation like the one that I described above.  Within a very short time, if you don't work together, and don't find a workable compromise and solution to the issues that are threatening your relationship you could end up loosing it all, and most importantly the person that you cared about.

So what do we know? We know that a relationship is the partnership of two individuals that have decided for whatever reason that they are going to help each other achieve the next level of life together.  We know that there has to be a mutual interest and plenty of compromise to fit these two individuals together, so that they mesh well. That they have similar likes and dislikes, dreams and goals and that are striving to build something lasting together.  That they trust each other, and have taken the necessary steps to work on building that trust.  That they are open and communicative with one another.  That they are willing to work on their issues rather than walk away and have to start all over again.  We know that they are both open minded and willing to try new things together, they aren't afraid to take risks and grow together as one person.  We know that when threatened they pull together and defend one another.  That they are willing to show how much they care for the other person and that they want to be partners.  That they are willing to share and support each other, because they know that they can face any problem united and come out victorious because two heads are always better than one.

It is important to understand that you have to let down your barriers, the walls that you have built up over your lifetime and let them inside.  You cannot hold someone at bay, or at arms length and expect them to hang around.  You have to live in the present, let go of the past.  Why would you want to cling to it anyway?  It is over and done that is why they call it the past, and there is nothing you can do to change it anyway.  If you don't know how check out some of my other blog entries like "If these walls could talk...what would they say" and "Holding in emotion and pain is not good for anybody" then finally check out this last one because it may help you understand a bit about perspectives and how two people can live through the same situation and see totally different things, it is called "How two people can live through the same things and have totally different stories".  Relationships are tough and require work and regular maintenance just like a car does.  But remember you can work through any situation if you really open up and talk about what is going on and how you feel.  Keep in mind that they are not you and see things from a totally different perspective so talk about it, get to know what they see and think and feel.  This will make your relationship and understanding of them so much stronger.  Be willing to work hard, show a lot of affection and be spontaneous and crazy, life is short and you need to have fun.

Keep in mind that there are minimally two sides to every situation and each of you has a different way of looking at things, comprehending them and defining them. If you don't talk about it and communicate you may one day wake up and realize that you are upset and fighting over something that frankly is just a misunderstanding.  One thing I am famous for is arguing over something so fervently and not realizing that me and my partner were saying the same things, actually agreeing but he said it in a slightly different way and I missed his point, and therefore the argument was bogus, and had I been more open and receptive to his ideas, and had we communicated effectively there wouldn't have been any argument in the first place. I don't believe in giving up and walking away. I try to stay and fight and hold on even when it is hopeless.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but trust me there is no real handbook on how relationships are supposed to go, there isn't some recipe on how to get over every single situation you will encounter. You have to be strong and work them through together. Remember with both of you working on it how can you fail.

As I wrap this up I hope that you come away with a better understanding of what it takes to make a relationship work.  What relationship practices help make it stronger, and what can tear it apart.  I know that it seems like I have been all over the place once again.  But seriously, the best way to approach a relationship is to work from friendship, build up the trust, always keep and open mind, be willing to do things to change yourself, compromise when necessary, pull together and talk about everything. Don't keep secrets, be yourself and let them get to really know and understand you. Leave the past behind, don't make comparisons, and be brutally honest with each other at all times.  When things get rough and they will put your heads together and find a workable solution and an answer that is going to benefit you both. Learn how to share, don't be obstinate, and learn when to keep your mouth shut, go the extra mile and be spontaneous.  Life is too short and you really care about one another or you wouldn't be with each other.

The final thing that I want to leave you with is this, don't ever settle for the answer I can't be with you because you are my friend and I don't want to do anything to ruin that friendship.  This is a cop out and totally bogus. Because let me tell you something there is no way that you are ever going to ruin a true friendship.  When you come together either you are going to make something greater than what you have or you are going to remain the same.  There are going to be fights, there are going to be times when you stop speaking to one another, but they are going to be short lived and you are going to find that you can't stay mad or angry at the person forever, that even if they hurt you that you can forgive it and get over it.  The secret to understanding all of this is that every relationship is going to end in someone getting hurt at some point or another.  Because no matter how perfect it is sooner or later one of you is going to have to leave it. Either by dying or some other cause. Nothing last forever, except the love that you share. That will endure everything else and as long as you are willing to talk and compromise and be open minded you will survive.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B