Originally posted on www.goop.com
“What does it take to sustain a happy and successful relationship or marriage?”
Monica Berg replies:
Relationships are a topic I thoroughly enjoy researching and discussing, specifically one between a husband and wife. It is, in fact, one of the most significant connections we will ever have, one that can impact our lives for better or worse.
What helps sustain a relationship is continuing to put as much effort into nourishing it as we did finding it. Blind dating, online dating, double dating – we put ourselves through every imaginable uncomfortable situation, and once we get married, it is almost as if it’s another item crossed off our checklist. Married, check. Children, check. Career, check. Very often we have a romanticized idea in mind as to what our lives will be like after we get married, one that’s often not based in reality. Inevitably, the honeymoon ends and life goes on. We get busy at work, spending time with coworkers, becoming close with our girlfriends discussing our relationship woes, and taking the kids out together. We end up spending more time apart and confiding in those people with whom we share our day.
We need to create time where we can come back together with our significant other to reconnect and share. This is a fundamental aspect of any relationship. We must put the time in. This connection has the potential to be totally satisfying and complete, helping us grow to levels of emotional intimacy that we are not yet aware exist.
Unfortunately, too often couples do not consistently invest in nurturing their love and when challenges arise, there isn’t a strong base from which to work. That is why I think this idea of nurturing a relationship is probably one of the most important keys. It is the very foundation on which the outcome of future experiences and conflicts depend.
Therefore, I would like to share with you four keys that are important for nurturing relationships.
- Consciously focus on the good in one another. We need to make a conscious effort to focus on the good because this is what allows us to appreciate our partner. This is something we do when we first start dating. We de-emphasize the negative and overemphasize the positive. Unfortunately, the scales shift to the opposite after we’re married. Only through a conscious effort can we create a consistent kindness, fondness and appreciation towards one another, where we actually want to honor “until death do us part.”
- Cherish small moments of intimacy and laughter. Finding the opportunities in day-to-day experiences to engage and create beautiful moments and memories together is what it’s all about. Making a commitment to each other that no problem or obstacle will be bigger than your commitment to each other is so important.
- Be vulnerable with one another. I know the word itself doesn’t sound appealing, but giving your heart to somebody you trust and love is a beautiful and necessary thing. Even if it is hard to do. We may be too proud or untrusting to become vulnerable, but so much love and connection can come from this type of openness.
- Repair. This is so necessary because after two people argue, usually one leaves the room and doesn’t come back to say, “I regret what I said.” It gets buried. And then comes the next day with another fight, usually about something insignificant like the remote control or who is going to walk the dog. This cycle becomes the norm and soon it becomes the primary part of the marriage. Coming back together for repair is crucial and discussing what happened and how to grow from it.
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present
are certain to miss the future.”
– John F. Kennedy
There are no stable marriages. There may be happy ones, but not stable ones. Either we are growing forward or falling backwards. This is true in all areas of our life. There is no constant; there is only change and movement. This is “the law of life,” which is why I believe nurturing relationships is so important. We owe it to ourselves and those we love not to settle for mediocrity in any way, and instead to nurture and allow our relationships to become the source of joy, support and love that they were intended to be.