The beginning of a relationship can be very exciting. That excitement energizes us where we want to spend all of our free time getting to know our partner. To truly know someone takes time. The time you spend apart is often as important as the time you spend together because it gives you some breathing room and a chance to get some perspective. Unfortunately, we go about our relationships at rocket speed and take things slowly allowing ourselves a chance to get to know a person well. We get so caught up in the excitement that we become deeply enmeshed sexually and emotionally before we have really had the chance to get to know the other person.
Our judgment is clouded by infatuation making it difficult for us to see red-flags in the other person. Even if we do see them, we ignore them believing that our parter is so perfect for us, nothing else matters. As a result, we overlook asking critical questions that would help us determine if the person really is compatible enough to forge a long-term relationship with us..
A common mistake people make is confusing the length of a relationship with the quality of it. Being involved with someone for a long time doesn’t mean that critical conversations have taken place, or that you communicate with each other in healthy ways. Rushed romances combined with poor communication dynamics inevitably lead to unhappy, incompatible, but committed relationships. If you would like to avoid this fate, here are some guidelines.
- Don’t bank on potential
If your partner is not what you want but has potential, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. It is wrong to assume you can change another person. There is no guarantee that someone can live up to the potential you see in them, and it is a mistake to proceed based on what you would like rather than what is. If you do, you are likely to end up disappointed.
- Choose a person with a good character and a solid moral compass
People often pair off with others because they have good chemistry. Chemistry is important, but it cannot sustain a long-term relationship on its own. Falling in love should never be the sole reason to marry anyone. It can be very simple to confuse infatuation for love. Instead one should look for a person that has good character. The following traits define good character.
A humble person never demands of a person what they are unable reciprocate. Sacrificing ones own comfort in order to adhere to their principals and values make them a person of humility and good character. Other signs of humility is the ability to not anger easily and regulate oneself emotionally.
A kind person is a person who gives from their heart and gives without expectation. They serve to please others and minimize the pain of others. It is easy to spot a giver by they way the interact with their close family members. If they don’t appreciate them, you know they will eventually not appreciate what you do for them.
A responsible person has stability in all facets of their life; their relationships, their finances, their employment and in their character. The person is reliable and honest. They are sincere in that you can trust that they do what they say. and say what they do.
A happy person is content with their life. They are happy and demonstrate gratitude no matter what cards life has dealt them. They focus on the abundance in their life, and not what is missing. They rarely complain.
- Meet partners emotional needs
All partnerships require a give and take, especially when it comes to emotional fulfillment. Your relationship will thrive and grow if you do your best to try to fulfill your partners emotional needs. Without it, intimacy is lost and the relationship will not flourish. Affection and sexual intimacy will diminish until the relationship is nothing more than a hollow shell.
- Grow together
You can either grow together or grow apart. It helps one to grow together if you share a common purpose in life. It helps to understand what ignites passion in your partner. Sharing a common purpose increases the chance that you will grow in the same direction. The more common ground you have, the more likely the person you are with will be qualified to venture into a long-term commitment.
- Avoid pre-mature sexual intimacy
It is important to establish an intellectual commitment before you get to enmeshed in a sexual component. Often when you engage in sexual activities too early in the relationship, it clouds your judgement. You get too deeply involved before you really know the person and before you have really had important conversations that will help you determine compatibility. Pre-mature sexual activity often costs both parties hardship and heartbreak.
- Emotional connection
In order to have a long lasting emotional connection you must trust, respect, rely and admire the person. Trust the person’s word and judgement. They must make you feel emotionally safe, you should feel comfortable to be yourself and vulnerable with them. Finally you should feel calm and at peace with them.If any of these components are lacking you will have trouble connecting with them at deepest level. A deeper commitment won’t change these important fundamentals and will more likely lead to an empty marriage doomed to unhappiness and failure.
- How do you feel?
Do you feel anxious around your partner? If you don’t feel safe with your partner, it is not recipe for a long lasting and loving marriage. When you feel unsafe, it is difficult to express your feelings and opinions. If you have to monitor what you say, or feel as though you are walking on eggshells most of the time, then you are likely to be in an abusive relationship.Here are signs to root out abusive relationships:
- Controlling behavior
If someone attempts to control what you do, where you go, who you befriend or how you dress, this may be a sign of a controlling personality. It is also important to know the difference between a suggestion and a demand. Telling the difference is simple. If someone is demanding something from you, there is an implied feeling that if you do not go along their way, it will result in consequences. This is a clear indicator of an abusive personality.
If someone raises their voice, uses abusive language, puts you down, then it is clearly an indication of an abusive personality. No one should be treated that way. People from abusive backgrounds often put up with it because they don’t have another point of reference. In other words, they haven’t had enough healthy relationships to know the difference. It is really important to get to know someone well and root this out before you get too deeply involved or attached.
- Team work and power struggles
People often share information about their past slowly and begrudgingly instead of simply putting everything out on the table. Holding back is often rooted in insecurity with oneself, fear of being invalidated by your partner. Having an honest and open discussion about the things that concern you, about your past, about your feelings tests the strength of your relationship. It gives you a tremendous opportunity to discover how your partner deals with conflict and to evaluate communication and negotiation skills. Most importantly, how you work together as a team. Power struggles are often a sign that you aren’t working together as a team. Often when people get into power struggles, they blame each other for the problems. People often become defensive and attack or get annoyed and withdraw. The most difficult personalities rationalize their behavior and turn the situation around on you, avoiding responsibility.
- Avoiding personal responsibility
People in relationships often blame their partner for their unhappiness. It is very important to remember that no one else is responsible for your happiness other than you. You can’t wait for someone else to fulfill you and make your life better. If you aren’t happy as a single person, then you won’t be unhappy as a married person. You have to be happy with yourself. One of the best ways to do that is to take responsibility for improving the areas in your life that make you unhappy.
- Emotional availability
Many people chose to be with people who are not emotionally available or in some other way, emotionally unhealthy. That is usually a sign of something emotionally unhealthy within yourself. Two emotionally unhealthy people does not make a healthy relationship.Many emotionally unhealthy people have trouble balancing their emotional ties with their family members. It results in a marriage not with 2 people, but 3 or more. For example: We have all seen men who are overly dependent on their mother’s. Well into their late 20’s their mother is doing laundry for them. A woman who marries this man is surely not only marrying the man, but his mother too. In a scenario like this, it is very unlikely the mother will not interfere with the couple’s married life.
A person without close friends is often fearful of judgement and distrust others. This is clearly a sign of someone who is emotionally unhealthy. Emotionally unhealthy people often don’t like themselves. They are often preoccupied with their deficiencies, insecurities and negative thoughts. They are often critical and judgmental toward others and especially to themselves. They often feel that their needs are not getting met. As a result they often demonstrate a grandiose sense of entitlement. They are often incensed when people don’t fulfill their unreasonable expectations. They often do not hold themselves accountable to the same standards and resent the burden of trying to meet the needs of their partner. People like this cannot be emotionally available to build a healthy relationship with others.
- Controlling behavior
Final points to consider
Once we have allowed someone to penetrate out heart, we subconsciously want things to work out. This is when we ignore or explain away behaviors that we should not. Things like speaking badly of others, treating a waiter rudely often get swept under the rug. People who divorce often say they saw these things about their partner early on but chose to ignore it. You should really be asking yourself what this says about their character before you get too deeply involved.
Another important consideration is ones upbringing and family background. Even those who seem the most rebellious have been greatly influenced by their upbringing. These things will slowly creep into a relationship, and if family members have a history of being unkind to each other, or doing things of questionable ethics, you will eventually see some of that seep into your relationship.
Being happy in a marriage should never be confused with martyrdom. Marriage should be pleasurable. Spending time with your partner should make you happy simply because you connect with them. You connect with them because you have a shared spiritual relationship that is mutually satisfying where giving to the other is not considered a loss. When you find commonality and balance with each other, you have the keys to a healthy and thriving marriage.