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5 secrets of a strong, loving relationship

St. Valentine's Day coming up and I've been thinking about what makes a strong, loving and above all genuine relationship. And about the blessing that such a relationship is. We don't need a relationship to be happy, mind you, but if it does appear in our life it surely is a wonder and a marvel.

JoAnn and I were married December 6, 1997. Not really all that long of course, compared to many relationships. But long enough for both of us to be very, very thankful indeed for what life has created between us.

We have been through some challenges, of course, including a severe spiritual crisis a few years ago that I truly thought might be the end of me.

As it turned out, it opened a door to an experience of stillness and happiness and inner peace that I might never have known without that particular experience in my life.

JoAnn was my lifeline

But while it lasted it was harrowing and immensely challenging not only for me but for JoAnn also -- my caregiver and lifeline during those long, lonely, frightening months.

Life can be a challenging, of course, and it is, for everyone. And yet strangely enough, I've found there is beauty and pure gold in the midst of any situation no matter how awful it may seem to be on the surface.

How will I ever forget, as I was being rushed to a hospital at one point during that very difficult period, looking out the back door of the ambulance and seeing JoAnn following in her car with a look of such utter focus and determination on her face. There was no way she was going to let the ambulance get away from her.

Most of all, I remember the love I saw mirrored in her face, a love that I knew was never going to give up.

That's what they say about love in the Bible, isn't it? "Love faileth never," it says in Corinthians 13:8. And it's true.

5 secrets of a strong, loving relationship:

1. The essential ingredient of trust

JoAnn has told me a number of times how much she appreciates knowing in her heart that I am trustworthy, and even in a tough situation, will tell her the truth if there is something important she needs to know.

In the same way, I know that I can trust her, and she will never lie to me, just as I will never lie to her. This feeling of mutual trust is the foundation of our relationship.

2. Give your partner space

This has been a hard one for me to learn, but I'm getting better at it. When deep feelings of some kind come up between us over some issue, my natural instinct is to want to try to sort it out right away, as soon as possible. But if I try to do this, it simply makes everything worse.

What works for JoAnn -- and is essential for her -- I now realize more and more deeply, is that I give her the space to be quiet and sort things out a bit on her own before we try to talk directly.

3. Listen to your partner

Listen, really listen to your partner. And don't only listen when she or he is obviously saying something important. Sometimes, there is something important in an apparently casual remark.

 4. Let go quickly of negative feelings

Your own integrity, that's to say your own connection with yourself, is more important than any external relationship.

If hard or difficult feelings come up in you relative to a loved one, which of course they will, make it your first priority to let go of that negative energy and reconnect with the ever present peace of your own being.

This isn't for someone else's sake. This is for your sake. Of course, the more successful we are doing this, the more we bless our loved one and the more our relationship will prosper.

 JoAnn puts it this way: “My theory is, don’t let things pile up. The sooner I can let go of something the better, because otherwise things just start to pile up for me.”

5. Respect your partner

Respect your partner (if you don't respect him or her, probably it's time to leave) and make sure that you make your respect visible. Never hesitate to say how much you appreciate the love and care that they express into life and into your relationship.

Saying yes to the indomitable power of love

Love is an absolutely indomitable power. It's the only power there is. We will never understand what love is with our mind. But we can express it and be true to it to the very best and highest of our ability, and as we do this love will increase in us.

Love will bless us, and it will bless others, and above all, it will help us realize the paradox of existence.

A good external relationship can be a great blessing, for sure. But the truth is that whether you are in a relationship or not, who you truly are is already whole, and already free.

Nothing can make you more whole than you already are, nothing can make you more free than you already are.

I send you love and blessings, and hope you are enjoying warmer and more pleasant weather than is prevailing at the moment here in frigid Denver, Colorado.

Bye for now, and I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions about what makes a happy, loving relationship..

Picture credit:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5010/5223826251_f099cc16e0.jpg

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

The Vizier February 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Hi Christopher,

I think it is beautiful that you and JoAnn have found such a deep love and bond with each other. It is always reassuring to know that even in the greatest crisis, there is someone there for you to watch your back and care for you.

1. The essential ingredient of trust

Trust is essential to any relationship especially a marriage. Without trust and open and honest communication, it is hard for the relationship to grow strong and healthy. It is hard for the relationship to weather any storms. At the slightest hint of trouble, it will crumble under the pressure.

2. Give your partner space

I know how it feels like to want to solve everything directly and quickly. But everything unfolds at its own time and place and we cannot rush matters even if we would like to. Knowing how to give your partner space can actually strengthen the bonds because you trust each other to return after sorting things out on your own.

3. Listen to your partner

I always preferred to have things told to me directly. I am not a big fan of guessing and inferring. That is not to say I cannot do it, but there is room for misunderstanding and miscommunication if I do. Having said that, I agree that being able to listen is highly important for any loving relationship. To be able to pick up the shifts and deeper meaning in words will do much to strengthen the relationship. Because sometimes, it is hard to bring up a sensitive topic directly.

All your 5 secrets are important. I just want to add one more. Acceptance.

Our partners are not perfect. There will be things we like about them and things that we dislike. But we have to take them as a whole and not only for the parts we like. Acceptance is the greatest gift we can give someone we love. Complete and unconditional acceptance. It is not easy, but it is possible if we love them deeply enough. After all, if we tried to change them to suit our preferences, we are not really in love with them.

Thank you for sharing this article! 🙂

Irving the Vizier
The Vizier recently posted..The Relationship Between Gradual Development and Lasting Success

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Christopher Foster February 9, 2011 at 9:50 am

What a beautiful comment Irving. Thankyou so much. I especially love your vital comment on the importance of acceptance. Just as you say, our partners are not perfect — they have their limitations and their “flaws.” I truly love what you say about “taking them as a whole” because I think only when we do this can we begin to realy see and love the divine reality back of all people that actually is whole. A paradox, isn’t it?

I want you to know I treasure your comments and the fine, clear penetration you bring to them. Have a wonderful day. So VERY happy to have you as a reader and a commenter.

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Phil Malmstrom February 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Christopher, this was an absolutely wonderful article.

It sounds like you and JoAnn are very much like my wife Shannon and I (especially in the respect of #1 & #2). We’ve been married for almost 16 years now, and although we’ve had our trials and struggles over the years, I can truly say that we’re more in love today than we were in the beginning. Far too often in today’s society we see marriage being taken from a “we’ll try it and see how it works” perspective, instead of the sacred and Blessed commitment that God intended it to be.

The only thing I would add to your list would be Faith. Faith in yourself, faith in your union together, and faith in our Creator to see us through any turmoil our lives may face. I had the amazing honor to officiate my first wedding last December, and as I wrote the ceremony script, the verses from 1 Corinthians 13 came alive for me as they never have before. May we all remember those eternal words…

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Thank you for this posting Christopher, and have a Blessed Day!
Phil Malmstrom recently posted..In peace I will lie down…

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Christopher Foster February 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Yes Phil, faith, just as you say, is critical indeed. Thankyou for these wise and handsome words, and the beautiful quote on love. I’m a happy guy to be sharing this journey with you. Blessings to you and Shannon.

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John Sherry February 11, 2011 at 8:14 am

Christopher there is clearly love all around you and thank you for sharing some of it with us. Your heart is warm and your words genuine – may I wish you long years of love both down here and above. In peace my friend.
John Sherry recently posted..The Humour Tumour

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Christopher Foster February 11, 2011 at 9:27 am

Peace to you too John. It’s always makes me happy to hear from you. I’m also very happy to be in touch with a fellow Brit even if you are an ocean away.

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Tess The Bold Life February 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Christopher,
I would add loyalty to the list. When you haven’t a doubt that you are both loyal to each other there is no wasted energy, doubt or anxiety ever. It’s such a peaceful feeling. Another thing we can do is make a list of positive traits one’s partner has and read them out loud. Then every negative one seems to drop by the way side.
Tess The Bold Life recently posted..A Hit List of Supportive Bloggers

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Christopher Foster February 14, 2011 at 9:39 am

Thanks Tess, this is a lovely addition to the list. Loyalty. What a nurturing quality it is. I was thinking of a flower for some reason, how loyal it is in its love for the sun. Blessings to you.

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Yudit @ raisefrequency April 19, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Your relationship with your wife is beautiful. You are your wife are modelling to the world what a loving relationship is. Thank you for sharing your secrets for a happy relationship.
Yudit @ raisefrequency recently posted..9 Law of Attraction love techniques – How to manifest your soulmate? Does LOA for love apply for specific person?

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