A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “Relationships last not because they were destined to last. Relationships last long because two people made the choice to keep it, fight for it and work for it.” – LessonsLearnedInLife.com
While the words “keep it, fight for it and work for it” are important, perhaps the most important words in that quote are “made the choice”. That begs a conscious decision on the part of both parties to make the relationship work. Very often in divorce cases it becomes obvious that only one of the parties had made that decision, or perhaps both had cavalierly entered into the relationship and neither was willing to put in the effort to make it work.
Relationships do take effort. They take compromise and a selflessness. They require that one put the relationship above self-interest. Lasting relationships also require vulnerability and trust. All of those things are matters of choice. All are usually tested during the relationship sometimes quite often. Sometimes it leads to one party in the relationship feeling trapped or smothered by the relationship. That is a red flag warning that the relationship may be in trouble or at least needs work. It is a call for self-reflection.
Am I feeling trapped because I am selfish or unwilling to compromise? Is my opinion or desire more important than those of my partner in the relationship? Are my feelings driven by self-interest over the interest of the relationship? Is the good of the relationship more powerful than the bad that I feel right now? In cases where one does not pause to think through these types of relationship questions, one’s actions may lead to a breakup of the relationship.
So, understand that you are always making choices whenever a relationship is involved. You decided to enter into the relationship to begin with and now you have choices to make that will either keep it going or cause it to fail. These are value judgments, based upon the value that you assign to the relationship. You do not have to view the relationship as a zero-sum game, where one party is forced to lose so that the other can win. Strive instead to find win-win solutions in every decision that you must make. Win-win solutions increase the value of the relationship and you both benefit from that.
It is also important to the relationship to know when to just step back and not be involved in something – to give your partner the space to just be themselves or have other relationships with friends. That is a recognition that you are not “in control” of your relationship partner and acceptance that they have their own life to live and their own decisions to make, both inside and outside of the relationship. You may find that this is one of the best decisions that you will make in the relationship and one that actually strengths it.
Make the choice today to be a thoughtful partner in the relationships that you have. Stop and consider the value of those relationships and be conscious of the work that you need to do to keep them and grow them. Relationships don’t just happen – you make them happen.
Make the choice today.