One of the letters to the editor I read lately discusses the disposability of marriage.
Enduring love, it says, happens at the Deep Love Phase, after the initial Romantic Phase and the negotiating of the Conflict Phase. Communicating and connecting are learned skills which counter the option of disposing; they lead through to the final satisfying stage.
One of my clients has just sent me some similar research on Relationship Science by Samantha Joel which describes these learned skills. It talks about the import of a wedding ( or a commitment) ceremony which has two functions : to bring a private commitment into the public domain of recognition, and, significantly, to orient the relationship into the future. Hence, promises for an enduring partnership are fundamental to the ceremony.
To make this partnership happy and fulfilling as well, psychologists talk of 10 specific habits or behaviours:
- Always try to make your partner feel good about himself or herself. Focus on the positives and support their personal (and independent) goals.
- Respect your partner’s right to make their individual choices ( without your influence).
- Understand your partner’s needs and strive to meet them.
- Be prepared to make personal sacrifices to do this – not because you feel you ‘should’ but because you want to make your partner happy.
- Be the person in your partner’s life they can most confidently rely on for support.
- Always encourage your partner in their endeavours and praise them fulsomely on the achievement of goals.
- Do happy, interesting things together – keep your relationship out of a rut.
- Face challenges together – act as a team, always keeping your partner’s welfare and your relationship uppermost.
- Give to your relationship willingly without thinking about what you will get in return.
- Never take each other for granted. Always tell each other how much you love and appreciated each other.
The final point takes us full circle back to the first. And that is it, a good partnership is a circle of attraction, understanding, giving and growth. A wedding ring!