Part I: 12 Steps to Lasting Love
Like many of you, I grew up in a dysfunctional home. How dysfunctional was it? My most vivid memories of my parents include a lot of screaming as the preferred mode of communication. There was a general sense of anger and disrespect for each other. When I was 16 years old, I begged my mother to get divorced. I couldn’t understand why my parents stayed married. I thought my life would improve if my folks split. They did divorce, but not for another 12 years. They waited until we were all out of the house. In retrospect, it was probably for the best, because I can’t imagine what it would have been like moving between their two homes. Needless to say, my parents’ unhappy marriage took its emotional and relational toll on me and my three siblings.
I ended up in a marriage that failed after 23 years. I have been studying relationships throughout my life, and watching relationships fail all around me drew me to my passion. As a dating coach, my driving force is to help couples make better choices in choosing the right mates before they get married. That’s the primary focus of my work. I love when women choose a partner who is a great match. That’s the first big step. But what happens once she’s found him? The work you do after you’re in a relationship is crucial to maintaining a lasting loving relationship.
12 Steps to Lasting Love
Steps 1 – 6
1. Be a great listener; seek to understand before being understood. It’s much easier to talk than it is to listen. Listen without an agenda. Learn to listen deeply to your partner, without adding any judgment or advice. Just be with them. That is more than enough.
2. Regularly show appreciation and gratitude. One of the things I loved about my ex-husband was that he didn’t take me for granted. He showed his appreciation and gratitude for my cooking, my parenting, all the little things I did for my family. That never got old for me. It also encouraged me to appreciate him right back.
3. Be kind in your actions and words. If I had to name one of the worst offenders in marriages and relationships that fail, I’d have to say that it was disrespect. Small acts and words of kindness and consideration breed more love. Don’t underestimate how important this is. Notice the good. Do good. It’s contagious.
4. Follow through on your commitments to each other. Say what you mean, mean what you say. This is how trust continues to build in a relationship. I’m a stickler for follow-through and accountability. Figure out a way to stay accountable to each other, even if it doesn’t come easily to you. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Check in with yourself every time you commit to something. Make sure it’s something you can and will do.
5. Don’t blame; take responsibility for your own issues. It’s easy to blame your partner when things don’t go your way. It’s even easier to blame outside circumstances for just about anything. Become a person who takes responsibility for your own feelings and actions. How you respond to any situation is up to you. That’s the part you can control. Whenever you have an argument with your mate, look within to see what part you played in that issue. Owning up to your share creates more connection.
6. Rejoice in your own and each other’s successes. People often forget to celebrate. We live busy lives, and it’s easy to get caught up in the everyday stuff. Remember to be each other’s cheerleaders, celebrating the wins in each other’s lives. Go out and celebrate together. Be there for each other through the good and the bad. That’s foundational to a great relationship.
I hope you found these tips to be helpful. The next 6 tips will be in Monday’s post.
Have a wonderful love-filled weekend!