What makes a relationship thrive? There are as many theories as there are stars in the sky. In actuality, there’s ONE essential piece to the love puzzle.
One might say common interests, spending lots of time together, enjoying the same foods, great conversations, quality communication, similar religious or spiritual beliefs, great sexual chemistry, just a sense of connection are the characteristics that make a relationship thrive. I have found that each of us are looking for different qualities in our relationships and many of us, even if having found the one that possesses all the qualities we think we want in a partner, have had many a relationship end.
So what is it? Finding the one, or thinking you have found the one. Now what? And will the relationship with the ‘one’ last?
You have read all the articles about looking for red flags, is or isn’t he/she the one, when to say good-bye, and even the book He Is Just Not That Into You, but now you have him. He is everything you ever wanted in a partner; she is beautiful, hour-glass shaped, kind, loving, generous, loves to travel, has a job she loves, wants kids; he is handsome, smart, funny, kind, loving and generous too; he even has a great paying job.
But will it work? How do you know? What can you do to ensure it will become happily ever after? Well, you can’t! You can’t ensure anything will work, as nothing is every truly certain and there are absolutely no guarantees. Not to be depressing, but the only guarantee we have once we arrive in this life is that we will, indeed, die.
But, don’t let that get you down. There most definitely are steps we can take to work toward the goal of happily ever after once we have snagged that amazing partner. These are steps or actions that so many individuals I meet struggle with on a daily basis. I have friends and clients who are years into what they thought would be happily ever after, yet they are headed for divorce.
What happened? The divorce rate is pretty high; and regardless of the top reasons for divorce—which are (in order) money, life with kids, and sex—I find a common thread among these friends. There is little to no self-care or self-love, and ultimately, no self-growth often leads to complacency.
What might self-care and self-love have to do with it?
It has been written about by many, that one cannot love another without love for oneself. But how does one grow love for oneself? It begins with self-care, which may look like a morning ritual—consuming warm lemon water for cleansing, oil pulling, a health breakfast, meditation, prayers of gratitude, yoga or a favorite exercise, maybe even reading from a sacred text.
This is comparable to putting on the oxygen mask before you put the oxygen masks of others if in an emergency situation on an airplane. Once the oxygen mask is on, one can then take the next necessary steps. Maybe it is to make coffee for a spouse, breakfast for children, taking care of the family pets.
Self-care may include tapping into one’s creative self, reading books, taking baths, spending time with friends, family, nieces, nephews, hiking in the woods, gardening, taking up and or learning a new hobby, finding courage to face one’s fears (even if they are small), volunteering for a charity, being of service to others, joining a support group, attending church, etc. As one stays true to his self-care, one can then give and share all of these wonderful aspects and qualities with others; and maybe quickly (but often times slowly), true self-love is developed. Then one really is capable of loving another.
But is this it? NO!
This has to occur in both individuals in a relationship. Both partners take care of themselves, because in order to allow another human in with the deep love and connection most of us long for, both partners have to feel solidly in love with themselves. If one partner is working on self-care to gradually grow their self-love but the other is not, this relationship may last for awhile, but dissatisfaction will eventually persist. There will be a yearning for a partner who is working towards self-love.
What I have found is this: as long as there is a yearning to grow, any relationship can work and a deep connection can be made and be lasting. But with true love, one is walking alongside his/her partner as he/she grows, as he or she is learning to love.
Yes, good looks, sexual attraction, common interests, enjoying the same activities, traveling, maybe a handful of adventures to spike the adrenaline, great conversation, good communication all play a role. But life is full of ups and downs, with every high there is a low, every summer is followed by a winter; sometimes poor choices are made, jobs are tough and sometimes lost, kids are cranky, we lose our temper, we don’t feel like we have enough time, etc. These can all influence our self-care and self-love, but if we are constantly striving for growth through caring and loving ourselves with what resonates deep within our soul, the rest will fall into place.
So are you ‘loving” yourself up? If so, how?
I want to share some hints to help you determine if you are showing yourself care and love.
- If it feels wrong, don’t do it.
- Say “exactly” what you mean. Be honest even if the other person may not like what you they hear. Say what you mean, mean what you say, don’t say it mean.
- You can’t say the right thing to the wrong person and you can’t say the wrong thing to the right person.
- Don’t be a people pleaser. Always follow your heart and be yourself.
- Trust your instincts. Listen to your body. Notice the bodily sensations you have when around a person and also when certain topics are discussed.
- Never speak bad about yourself. Write affirmations on a post-it note and stick them to your mirror as a reminder. Say them out loud each day! Love yourself up!
- Never give up on your dream. Ever.
- Don’t be afraid to say “No.”
- Be kind to yourself.
- Let go of what you can’t control. Live in the flow.
- Stay away from drama and negativity.
- Always listen to your heart! It will never lead you astray.
[image: via shutterstock]
About the Author
Elizabeth Elliott is a seeker, mama to two children ages 10 and 13, a holistic lifestyle educator, yoga teacher and blogger. With a background in education, she founded THRIVE! Wholistic Life. Since her mother was a two-time breast cancer survivor, she was curious as to the mind-body-spirit connection. She has always been searching for the greater meaning in her life. She earned her BA in Humanities with concentrations in Religious Studies and Humanities from the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and furthered her education and earned her Masters in Elementary Education in 2007. Be sure to check out what Elizabeth is doing! She is able to educate and coach whether near or far!