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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

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The #1 Secret of Great Relationships


Behind all the issues that separate an ordinary relationship from a great one, is one common factor. Behind all the truly helpful advice on improving your life together, there lies one key to a great relationship.

Many different kinds of problems can cause a relationship to fall apart. Physical or emotional abuse, addictions, cheating, jealousy, and neediness are just a few of the issues that can destroy a relationship. But once the many potentially disastrous problems have been avoided, what have you got? Perhaps a relationship that qualifies only as "pretty good." But what creates a really great relationship?

At the beginning, we are in relationship because we are attracted to the other person - we think they are sexy, smart, funny, whatever it is that we find appealing. But very quickly, the focus of the relationship turns to whether we feel appreciated. If we don't feel appreciated, we don't feel loved.

It is common for those entering into a relationship to hold an idealized image of how a perfect partner is supposed to act. Perhaps a man is supposed to open car doors. Perhaps a woman is supposed to wear a certain kind of underwear. The internal dialog goes something like this, "Jim (or Sally) is a wonderful person and loves me. After we're together, he will change because he loves me so much. He will stop wanting to hang out with his friends, watch football games, whatever." How can anyone feel appreciated when their loved one is wishing or hoping for them to change.

The greatest roadblock to a great relationship is trying to force a partner to change through bribes or threats. This classic human tendency is lampooned in the long-running off-Broadway musical comedy "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." It's funny to watch other people go through the cycle of searching for the perfect mate, believing they have found that person, and than gradually attempting to remold the supposedly perfect partner. Unfortunately, in real life, this pattern is a cause of immense suffering.

I Love You Just the Way You Are
The number one secret of a great relationship is accepting our partner EXACTLY as they are. We cause ourselves untold misery whenever we believe our loved ones to be imperfect and try to change them.

To create a great relationship, say and mean, "I love you just the way you are." No pretense. No hoping for change. No thought that it used to be better, or might get better. Follow through by living into that sentiment every day.

Falling into the trap of thinking, "I wish you were different" or "Please change." is no way to show your love. Happiness lies in this number one rule of great relationships: Love and accept your partner exactly the way they are.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

thats a good posting and the truth!!

Anonymous said...

also i may add we need to accept the person for who they are, if you meet a guy that smokes and drink you can not change that person, either you deal with it or leave, they are not going to stop for you or for nobody else, they have to want to stop, that's my opinion.

Anonymous said...

There are destructive behaviors that you can request your partner to change. For example if they are addicted to heroin and you ask them to stop because you love them and your request is simply as a favor for them to show their love for you and then they do stop the behavior then they have changed. You wanted them to change for you and they did it. Not all requests to have some one change is a cause of immense suffering. In this example it can be a great benefit to the relationship.

Anonymous said...

I find it ironic that afterthis daily inspiration there is still someone that posts with words such as "show their love for you", "change for you". Obviously destructive behavior such as drug or alcohol abuse should be stopped however it should be stopped for their own benefit and health, not for someone else because 'they should love you enough to stop'. People should be more conscious of how they phrase things and where their intentions are truly coming from. Also, in the end, if someone doesn't chose to change for themselves the changes that they may make will not be long term. No matter how destructive the behavior people need to change for themselves and nothing should ever be a question of whether or not someone 'loves you enough'.

Margaret said...

I am a firm believer that God has chosen our mate long ago.We go through life and all the trials and joys along the way happen for a reason.Our mate does the same...for a reason.when God sees fit he facilitates the union he had planned for you and lo and behold....your mates strengths are your weaknesses and vice versa....all due to paths chosen and Gods gentle guidance. So who am I to want to "change" a carefully constructed person that God created for me.I accept with 100% gratitude because thats the way God intended that person to be:)
Thats just my opinion,nobody needs to agree but please respect it:)

Anonymous said...

Margaret, I do think the same way. I think that God wants me to help my husband with the things is week on it and wants him to help me with the things I am week on. I also see parents as guidance to their children. Parents just came b4 their children and take care of them while they are little. It is a big responsiblity for parents. I also think that while you are accepting you partner the way he or she is you are working for your salvation. You will be rewarded by the Lord. just my thoughts.
Ana

Anonymous said...

A person never changes unless he/she wishes to. Never try to change someone just because it fits your needs or wants. Accept him/her or let it be.

Anonymous said...

yes,and we really can't forced anyone to let him/her change. we just have to accept him/her as what he/she is. Respect your differences.

Anonymous said...

Steven Robert Witt
Yes.. we really can't forced anyone to let him or her to change. we just have to accept them as what he or she is. Respect your differences (I Love You Just the Way You Are Stevei W )

Anonymous said...

Yes we must love our mate as they are,but at the same time If God choose our mate,The road block want be as hard,but sometimes we choose our mate,and it is our responsability to tell what the word of God say,and then let God do the work on them.If God choose your mate and the mate is not right,pray and God will do His will.It is God's will and God's way not your will.

Anonymous said...

I want to love my husband, family, friends, and accept them just the way they are BUT isn't it okay to say "I care about you and I want you to be healthy and live longer" - not as constant nagging, but occasionally mentioning? Plus leave the room / the house if they smoke, to protect myself...

I don't want to be an enabler of unhealthy behavior by those I love - and all my communities and the rest of the world. That's much easier to write here than to do it every day!!!!

Anonymous said...

I believe it is human nature to want "perfection". We all have our idea of a perfect mate. We dont necessarily choose who we fall in love with like we would choose a new pair of shoes. I think that it is one of the hardest things to do...accept. Accept people the way they are, and accept the path that you are on. God works out all the details, and trying to change anyone whether it be a friend, spouse, sibling, co-worker...it is not our job to do this. This life is filled with chaos from everyone trying to impose their views on others and forgetting that we all have the freedom to be who we are. I lost my marriage due to drugs and alcohol abuse, and all the love in the world wasnt going to change him. As much as I loved him, he had to change for himself. I tried to change his bad behavior for years, unsuccesfully. Its been 6 years and he still doesnt love himself enough, how would he ever have been able to change for me or anyone else. He couldnt. The world would be filled with peace if we all learned to accept one another and love unconditionally. God Bless.

Jonathan Lockwood Huie said...

Anonymous- I want to love... It is neither okay nor not okay to speak to others about their behaviors. Try it and REALLY observe their reaction. If they say, "Thank you for reminding me," you are helping them. If you get a cold stare and a grumble, you can be sure that your well intentioned comments have been received as nagging, and that continuing to bring up the subject will harm your relationship.

Most everything that is important is VERY hard to do and to keep doing every day. If it were easy, we wouldn't need to consciously remind ourselves daily to do the hard things.

Anonymous said...

wow this really hit me. been married for 1.8 yrs and most of my mis understanding with my husband is me wanting him to change his personalilty because in my mind that will be more beneficial for him especially in his carreer. but he did'nt see it that way. from now on I will love and accept him just the way he is.

Anonymous said...

I think we spend too much time trying to fix what we can't fix. We forget that life is too short. The best thing is to make the best out of the little time we've got and celebrate love and togetherness. What we can correct we should correct, what we can accept we should accept, and the ones we can not absolutely live with we should move on or avoid. Do not let anyone have the pleasure of taking your joy away from you, life is way to short.
I am writing this from my life experience I spent a lot time trying to 'fix' siblings, relationships and family. Sometimes the harder you try, the more frustrating it is. Now that I have decided to accept people the way they are (still working on it because it is not easy), my life is better. It is difficult to see your siblings going about things the wrong way, but sometimes, you have to leave them to learn their own lessons.

Anonymous said...

It's impossible to change someone else.
I've been married 54 years. Why?...because my husband and I balance each other out. We're complete oposites. He's loud,demanding,sloppy, and well educated. I'm quiet,submisive,neat and not so educated. You can say we comlement each other. We know it's definitely because of our inherited genes. Seesee

Anonymous said...

And if he really loves and cherishes you, he would change to please you. Thanks for my husband who pleases me always.

Anonymous said...

I like the passage/article. somehow, it brought me to a wider understanding of partnership & marriage. Changing the partner for me, is such a hard task & is impossible. But if we know how to pray, God is able. He will show mighty things that even you can't imagine. Let's just learn to fully depend on Him, and all will be well.

Anonymous said...

This article really hit home for me. I have been asking my partner, through bribes / nagging etc to change certain things about herself "for her own good" and for the good of our relationships (better communication about problems, doing her fair share of cleaning / tidying around the house, getting more exercise and being more active as a couple). Whilst I genuinely believe that these things would be positive and beneficial for her, and the relationship, this article helped me realise that it is not my right or my responsibility to change my partner, or even ask her to change. I understand and appreciate that instead I should show her acceptance and compassion. However, I'm still struggling a little bit with how I get my own needs met? I.e. by accepting this, I am left to do the lions share of house work, leaving me feeling frustrated at the unfairness and inequity of this?

Jonathan Lockwood Huie said...

to "hit home"...

Your partner isn't going to change her fundamental nature, but you can certainly ask her to modify some of her behaviors.

Understand that a neat house isn't as important to her as it is to you. Ask her to help with the housework because it is important to you - not because there is anything wrong with her.

Also, look for ways to return the favor. For example, if she loves to party but you don't, fully engage in the festivities because it is important to her, and not because you are "supposed to."

Anonymous said...

You don't change a person. You make him realize his need for change.

THANDI MAPINDIKAZI said...

One can not be changed by another human being who did not create him/her,ours is to appreciate each other's presence in this world and see the goodness of the Creator because if it wasnt by one's certain behaviuor we wouldnt be able to learn what is good and bad,so ours is to pray for each other.

Anonymous said...

So true. Why is it so hard to do? Is it because of my insecurities?

Anonymous said...

This is so true! I lost my marriage for a lot of resons but I think the biggest one is because I always tried changing the things he used to do.After,being separated for 2 years & reading this article,i've learned a lot!!! Thank you for being such an inspiration,Jonathan! :)

nchairchic said...

my marriage of 10 years was all but over, until I chose to love him just as he was and as he wasn't. the relationship we are in now is one I never could have imagined ever being there. love, commitment, mutual respect, joy...... I choose to be his girlfriend and by default he reacts as my boyfriend, all sappy again. it is soo cool !

Jonathan L. Huie said...

nchairchic: I am so happy for you.

Loving one's partner exactly as they are isn't always enough to create a happy relationship, but trying to change one's partner never works and always creates suffering.

Anonymous said...

Is it asking them to change when you want them to do the things they used to do?

Jonathan L. Huie said...

Is it asking them to change when you want them to do the things they used to do?

First, it's always okay to ASK people to behave differently. The problem comes from demanding they change - especially demanding they change "for their own good."

I am guessing you are probably thinking being more romantic earlier in the relationship - inviting you on dates, holding the car door, etc.

Yes, ask nicely - but don't demand or expect. Also look at what you could do to rekindle the romance.

Anonymous said...

never compromise..i know they say opposites attract and the physical attraction is so great..but if there is no compatability in doing similiar activities..biking .skiing running...etc...then that is one hill hard to climb...my experience

Anonymous said...

i understand more better now... that i have to accept him for what he really are..
and that he too had to accept me also..

Anonymous said...

i love so much someone that cannot be mine and will never be. i just love him the way he is. we are in the best of friendship no matter what. it is something more of an unconditional love. i love him and to see him happy is all that matters. i do not understand but i pray hard that i might not seek so much to be loved as to love. today, valentines day, i do love him more but just can't say it. i can only look up and wish him to be there for me always. i feel complete to love him even through the distance.

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