Keeping Love Alive
Modern society has developed in such a manner that all relationships need to be cultivated and nurtured with conscious choice on a daily level.
We can get so wrapped up in all the demands and time consuming “have to’s”, that there may be too little deliberate investment in our most important relationships.
It is also possible too get so distracted via all our entertainment and media activities, that there is little time left to invest in our most important relationships. The result is disconnection and emotional bankruptcy.
The Gottman Institute conducted research to predict which relationships will lead to divorce.
Four characteristics were most prominent in couples that would most probably consider divorce. Phillip Gottman called them the “ four horsemen” of the relationship apocalypse.
1. Criticizing your partner’s character (“You’re so stupid” vs “That thing you did was stupid.”
2. Defensiveness (or basically, blame shifting, “I wouldn’t have done that if you weren’t late all the time.“
3. Contempt (putting down your partner and making them feel inferior.
4. Stonewalling (withdrawing from an argument and ignoring your partner.)
A healthy relationship values respect , trust, companionship and kindness. When respect and kindness leaves the table , little of the other essential values necessary for a healthy relationship still matter. No-one needs constant belittling and disrespect . It causes self-doubt, worthlessness, resentment and deep sadness. If the relationship makes you feel like a constant failure, withdrawal steps in to ensure self-preservation.
We can not make “withdrawals” when there were no “deposits” in our bank accounts. The same principle apply for our relationships. If we make no time to invest “quality time”, to stay emotionally connected, to ensure support and a safe space for our partner, to remain kind and respectful, we have nothing left to draw on when there is rocky patches.
It remains important to communicate with honesty and respect, to validate each partner’s safety, to never lose the fun element, and to deliberately choose to make your partner your priority and number one investment.
Then we will ensure replenishment, and emotional connection that can withstand all.
The risk if we do not succeed in the above is a functional relationship (unfulfilled and lonely), vs an emotional, secure and supportive relationship,(fulfilled).
A healthy relationship honours and cultivates the togetherness in the same breath as the individuality of each partner.
We can not control each other, or dictate to each other. Most often such behaviour stems from insecurities which need to be adressed.
Khalil Gibran describes it beautifully: “And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.”