This is a really good post.
1. If they love me, they will know what I need. In many cases, your partner is the one person on this earth who knows you the best. This doesn’t mean, however, that they can read your mind. While your partner may be able to predict how you will act or what you will think in certain situations, that doesn’t excuse you from ever having to make your feelings known. If you have a strong feeling or desire but you do not share it with your partner, you have no right to get upset if they do something that goes against your unspoken desire. Communication is the key to a healthy relationship and it needs to be a two-way communication between the two of you. It can be scary to share your deepest, darkest feelings sometimes but you will find that, in the end, it brings the two of you closer together.
If we "expect" to be taken care of by our partner, then we risk blaming our partner for not meeting our needs, when it is our responsibility to do our part. We can call communication the 3 dimensions of mind reading. I like that description, because communication is incredibly difficult. Men want women to be more literal. Women want men to be less literal. We also tend to expect one another to understand our subtext.
2. A healthy marriage is easy. Many people mistakenly assume that all of their relationship problems will somehow go away when they get married – that marriage is the solution to the problem. The truth of the matter is, however, that you and your partner are still the same people you were before you got married and that means that the problems you had before marriage are likely to persist after you tie the knot. The act of getting married does not dissolve relationship problems and a healthy marriage is not necessarily an easy one. Any relationship requires work, time, and communication in order to survive. If you want your marriage to be healthy, you will need to work for it!
I think the hardest part of a relationship is managing our own emotions. Let's face it, we can get upset at our partner for anything
. We can also get lit up by our partner for anything. There are a million little nuisances, that if handled the wrong way, turn into a full-on war.
It is interesting that we go to college to master a trade, but don't spend any time learning how to master interpersonal romantic relationships. Even so, the divorce rate for marriage counselors and the like, are no better than the average. I think it is because our schools utterly lack any training in our emotional IQ. So we might have an understanding of how the human brain works in that guy/gal that sits across from us, but lack the ability to interact in a healthy manner.
Emotional IQ is a critical skill that is best formed in childhood. Their emotional aptitude really becomes malleable from around the 9th month. It is at that point that we can really shape infants to being able to be self-capable and disciplined individuals. Otherwise, we have to suffer the wrath of the amygdala sending us into alarm at every instance our partner becomes emotional.
3. We will never have a fight. Conflict is a natural part of life and it has an important role to play in any healthy relationship. While you should not go around picking fights, having the occasional disagreement is not necessarily a reason to become concerned about the health of your marriage. If you believe that a marriage means never fighting, you could end up holding in your deepest feelings which could sow the seeds of resentment and bitterness, slowly poisoning your marriage. If you and your partner come across a conflict it is infinitely better to talk about it (even if the discussion gets a little heated) than it is to repress the issue and to pretend it doesn’t exist.
Time and time again, I convinced myself that the relationships I entered into would be conflict free. In young relationships, our lymbic systems are in charge, to a large degree. There is a lot of supression of the neo cortex (thinking brain), and a lot of suppression of negative emotions. It is easy, to say the least. Then, as things progress, we are left without the help of hormones and have to deal with all of the major and minor nuisances of our partners.
Worse than thinking we won't fight is thinking we don't have to fight, or thinking that we can just get over things. If we just brush things under the rug, and say our sorries, the issues are still going to be there. We see it, time and time again, that individuals make up, but go on to argue about the same things for years, even for decades. The most successful relationships bring up difficult subjects, but do so when tensions are not high. It is done without being contemptuous, defensive and critical. There is still that base love for this other individual, and that is what gets partners through the difficult moments to the next day. We can have a disagreement or dispute BUT I still love you and I will still be here for you.
A relationship is a two-way street – both partners have to make compromises in order to ensure long-term success. In many cases, compromise doesn’t require you to give something up, it just requires you to see things from someone else’s perspective and to maybe adjust your thinking a little bit. If you want your relationship to stand the test of time, challenge your expectations and have an open conversation with your partner about important issues before they have a chance to poison your relationship.
Along the lines of making compromises, I think it is important to suppress the urge of being stubborn or bigoted. I make mistakes and have to eat crow often. It doesn't matter how hard I try to be a great partner, mistakes happen. It is taking that personal responsibility that keeps things going and makes sure that partners' concerns are heard. A mistake by our partner does not excuse a single action of ours. This is the heart of not being defensive and being personally responsible.
It is amazing how many times I was so convinced that I was right, but failed to consider something from another point of view. Life isn't always objective. There are often multiple valid viewpoints, and if we assume only one is correct, we are going to suffer consequences. I learn a lot by interacting with other individuals. I have spent years debating economics with top financial gurus and economists, and there is always something to learn. The same is true for relationships, probably to a greater degree, as it is more subjective.
When we come together, we are like two puzzle pieces that don't quite fit together. Even though we aren't "wrongly" shapen, there needs to be some malleability. There are some things that irk individuals, as well as some things that push happy buttons. We really need to mesh, so that negativity tends to be avoided and positivity tends to be the norm. Gottman finds success in partners that tend to agree with one another. Often it needs to go beyond just being neutral and understanding, but actually being on the side of one's partner.