Relationships: A two-way street

10 Sep

Love is the most profound emotion known to human beings. For most people, romantic relationships are the most meaningful element in their lives. But the ability to have a healthy, loving relationship is not innate. Almost all of us have experienced a failed relationship, and most of us have to work consciously to master the skills necessary to make them flourish. You don’t really live with the partner in your home. You live with the partner in your head.

Each one of us has differing values and ways of looking at the world, and we want different things from each other. Such differences derive from our genetically influenced temperaments, our belief systems, and experiences growing up in our family of origin. Sometimes a sock on the floor is just a sock on the floor. Do not let little irritations in to deeper problems.

Recently, I have been hearing a lot about fewer and fewer people getting married.  In fact, the recently released 2011 State of our Unions report from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia reported that there has been a 50 percent decrease in marriage from 1970 to 2010 in United States. This may be due partly to more people living together, but even more so to an increase in lifelong singlehood.

On the other hand a research by Institute of Social Research shows that teenagers of both sexes still say that “a good marriage and family life” are “extremely important” to them. In spite of people’s preference for committed relationship, people’s faith in marriage has fallen over the last 30 years according to a research.

Is this drop in marriage and faith happening because more people are finding it harder to find a committed life partner, or that fewer people are sticking it out, or that some people don’t even want to be in a relationship? When people say that they prefer being single are they consciously or unconsciously hiding from the pain of not having the relationship they truly want?  In psychological term it is called “cognitive dissonance,” i.e. avoiding discomfort about what you are doing by justifying that you wouldn’t be doing that unless you had a good reason for it. People stop fixing you up with dates, because they believe you really prefer being single, even if you don’t really want to be. While some may be perfectly happy being single, for others, it may not be that they don’t want a relationship but that they have not figured out a way to have one that is fulfilling.

If you are finding it harder to find a committed partner, maybe you are looking in the wrong places. Instead of looking for the right partner to meet your needs, look for someone with whom you can create the right relationship to meet needs of you and your partner. Best way to deal with a problem is that if you are dissatisfied with partner, do not give up too soon but continue to work together on the relationship.

Commitment to the relationship as an entity, separate from and beyond just the two individuals is very important. The couple is greater than the sum of the parts. In every area of life, people who establish a clear vision are more likely to fulfill on it. Just envisioning yourselves as a committed couple is not enough. Once the challenges of jobs, kids and everyday life come along, it requires deliberate attempt from both sides to keep you on tack.

Every annoyance in a relationship is really a two-way street. Partners focus on what they are getting, not on what they are giving. But no matter how frustrating a partner’s behavior, your interpretation is the greater part of it. What matters is the meaning you attach to it. The ability to eliminate relationship irritants lies within each of us. They may sabotage good relationships or not. It all depends on how you interpret the problem.

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