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Building and Maintaining Loving Relationships

Jun 6, 2008
How awesome it is to move past that initial stage of dating, of hoping, of wondering, and getting to know each other and find yourself in a new position of having what looks to be a long term relationship.

Most of us enter long term relationships, or advanced relationships, without any really good tools for cultivating it or even maintaining it well. We haven't learned from any great role models or really even gotten a clear picture from what society tells us. So here we are, trying to wing it.

Your relationship is the one place where everyone should be safe and supported. That might mean a million different things to a million different people, but the world hands out enough garbage without giving it to each other. Women and men often have different needs and different ways of dealing with things.

The most important and valuable lesson we can all learn is expressing those needs without anger or fear and being willing to support each other in order to be supported.

Building a strong relationship often means delving into everything from household chores to sexual needs to balancing the needs of outside forces (kids, work, friends, and family) without either party feeling like they carry the brunt of the work. This isn't all that difficult, it just isn't a skill we practice very often.

Women often need more support on the home front while men often need more support finding their own space and energetic release. Opting for open negotiation of those needs can lead to a greater response to those needs. It's not out of bounds for either partner to set some limitations and to ask for the type of help they need. The biggest problem in advanced relationships today is that people just don't.

Women want men to read their minds and learn what they need without being told, as though if we really loved them we would know what they want without being given the information. Men have been taught to stuff it down, never give in, and to be 'the man.'

She may not understand why you have to go down and play pick up basketball twice a week instead of staying home and helping her with the chores. It is actually okay to explain it to her. Telling her why you go and why you need to go often makes it easier to get out the house when you want to go. This helps change her perception from 'he is running off to play while I work' to 'he is going off to take care of himself so my needs are met better.'

Usually, this perception change can happen after a small dialog of only two to three sentences. How much easier is that than arguing for three hours and missing your game?

Women also need to be able to remember that men left their mind reading capabilities back on the ship and need direction when it comes to meeting her needs. Women most often get angry when their needs aren't met. Women still feel as though they are fighting oppression and sexism, and often respond with a greater level of defense than necessary. Checking in with her, asking direct questions without attacking and without anger makes it so much easier to know where she is.

Women also need to be told, lovingly and gently, that it is okay to ask for what they need. They have been taught that asking for what they need is wrong, thus men get confused because they aren't communicating. Sometimes men need to remember that women have been taught some messed up perspectives just as often as men have.

Past behavior is just that, it is historical and gone. For either party to bring past behavior out of their back pocket to 'win' an argument is just plain offensive. The more each partner learns to let go of past behaviors and deal with present behaviors, the less judgment is tossed back and forth and the more people are able to get down to business and handle things more maturely.

Learning not to judge each other is one of the most difficult aspects of cultivating a relationship. We have been taught since we were young that we attach a judgment to behaviors and then determine whether it is good or bad. Using those judgments to determine your partner's worth is counterproductive. Even if a behavior is 'unacceptable,' I would be hard pressed to believe that you have never done something that was 'unacceptable' yourself.

It can be very difficult to accept that our partner is doing the best that they can offer in a moment when it seems like everything is upside down and lost. Making this determination is not helpful to either of you. Letting go, using the behavior as information, and dealing with it without judgment is one of the most creative places anyone can reach. But ultimately, one of the most difficult places.

It would be more effective to manage your relationship with as few judgments as possible. Try to stop looking at each other as though they did something good or bad, but that they are trying and learning. Reaching a point of true intimacy requires a lot of growth. Since we are all growing and changing regularly, you can't anticipate that your partner will respond to everything the same way all the time.

Practice listening skills. When you are listening, don't speak. Don't prepare to speak. Just listen. So often men want to jump up and fix something to make things better. Women would rather be heard. Try this little exercise in order to develop your listening skills. If each of you takes five minutes to talk about something, anything at all, while the other one listens without interruption, you can really focus on the words and feelings behind them.

Go one step farther, while you are not speaking, and listen with child like curiosity. If you are truly curious about what they are going to say and you are not planning on speaking, then you are much more able to really hear what they are talking about. It's a great exercise that can really show each partner how often they don't really listen and how rusty their listening skills are.

Making changes in a relationship that benefit one or both partners can be rather difficult, especially when we add pressure to the mix. Often, even after a good conversation and promises to change a behavior, one partner might need help breaking the old habits. This is perfectly natural and it's okay to remind each other of the conversation in which the behavior was addressed.

Relationships are an exercise in chronic learning. One or both of you might need to go through several transformations and even relearn some of the basic beliefs about gender and expectation that you have picked up in the past. Again, this is natural and meaningful, and contributes to creating an environment in which both parties can learn.

It's also natural to have a setback or two even when the two of you are working pretty hard on changing behaviors that the other finds offensive. Removing the expectation of perfection allows one partner to make a mistake without judgment, fear, or betrayal.

Each partner is responsible for their own responses to situations, just as each partner is responsible for their own emotions and emotional reactions. Women, just as often as men, often need to practice a little more forgiveness. A mistake is not an attack or an intentional lie, it is merely a mistake.

Building an advanced relationship does require some patience, acceptance, and a willingness to learn and develop new skills if you want it to be healthy. In so many situations, people are desperate for acceptance and yet they are so unwilling to hand it out in the first place. When one person in a relationship becomes more accepting of the other, it is almost a guarantee that the partner will follow and learn to be more accepting by example.

There is the potential in all of us to truly be happy with our partner as well as the ability to develop the skills we need in order to be great men, great women, and terrific partners. When both partners are happy with the other and there is an abundance of acceptance, both partners get a whole lot more of what they want with a lot less tension.
About the Author
If you have found my article interesting, I have come across a site which is at the moment giving away a massive free Book titled Secrets To Dating Beautiful Women. I have personally found this one of the best books on the subject of Dating and Relationships and I highly recommend you read it. It's a must read.
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