I went to a dear friend with a list of questions that get posed quite often in my “Women’s Groups” considering relationship issues and personal development. In this discussion with her I discovered her own challenges with life and development. This caused me to respect her even more as a woman of wisdom when I would look back over her composure as she traveled her own road of personal discovery. Again I was empowered from a sistah sharing her story by focusing on the power of experience and moving on.
These questions get posed quite often when people’s lives change from different lifestyles for the better with partners, but don't know where to go from there.
A few jewels to share with those that wonder about building healthy relationships; from this Sistah Friend:
Although I do not feel qualified to address the questions, I’ll give it a go! As with any relationship, it takes two wanting it for the relationship to develop, grow and last. One cannot make it happen, no matter how badly they want a particular relationship. I spent 18 years in a relationship because my partner had the “potential” to make me happy. I love her with every fiber of my being and thought she could love me in the same way if only I was patient enough, strong enough, loving enough, understanding enough, accepting enough. I invested and invested but was never able to withdraw anything from that investment. In fact, I felt as though I did not even earn any interest on my investment. Finally I decided I would never be “enough” to get what I was seeking from this person. I had to accept she was probably giving as much as she could and it was not enough for me. In therapy I learned what could have been, was. If it could have been any different, it would have been. I also learned unrealized “potential” “ain’t worth horse shit” (quote from my therapist).
When my current partner and I were in crisis, I learned another valuable lesson, this time from a sermon. The Pastor knew nothing of the difficulties so the message was not intended for us. It was a God-thing for me. My partner was out of town with her mother for several weeks (another fall and subsequent injury). She decided that she needed to stay there permanently as things were not good with us. I felt betrayed (we had promised each other we would work things out some way, some how) and hurt beyond words. I was pretty raw but went to church anyway. The sermon that day was about relationships. The words that resulted in my epiphany were: “If someone you love can walk away from you and out of your life, let them.” It took every ounce of strength I had in me that day to stay seated and not run out bawling.
I emailed my partner and told her I would put one of the houses on the market but buy her out of the other one as I wanted to keep it. I told her to decide what she wanted from either house and to make arrangements to have it shipped or come pick it up. There would be no more requests for couples counseling or guilt trips about broken promises coming from me, I said. I wished her well but stated I could not maintain a “friendship” with her as she requested.
She came home “to discuss the division of property”. We spent hours talking, crying and being honest about issues. Although we did not officially agree to work things out, we did. Since that time, there has been no mention of “divorce” and we have worked to make sure that there is no need for that discussion.
I guess my point is, any relationship is difficult sometimes, even loving ones. Thus, one needs to decide if they want to invest the time and energy necessary to maintain a relationship before they jump into one. And they need to be prepared to let go if their partner no longer wants it.
Anyway, based on my own experiences, I am offering the following:
1. Developing healthy relationship suggestions:
a)Listen without preconceived notions.
b)Think before speaking.
c)Don’t commit to a relationship based on one feature, idea or value.
d)Find commonality and focus on that.
e)Make sure you like the person.
f)Realize differences are good, not bad.
2.Suggestions for things to do that would be conducive to maintain healthy, committed relationships:
a)Laugh together often.
b)Don’t take yourself or your partner too seriously.
c)Develop relationships, hobbies and interests independent of your partner.
d)Respect even if you don’t agree.
e)Accept arguments are inevitable and don’t take criticism too personal.
f)Commit to fairness.
3.How to develop healthy friendships with other couples:
a)Seek friendships that compliment your own relationship.
b)Resist comparing other couples to you and your partner.
c)Show genuine interest in developing a relationship.
d)Allow relationships to develop over time.
e)Pick folks who share some of your interests, values, morals.
f)Invest of yourself.
4.Venue for meeting new friends:
a)Participate in a variety of events, i.e., festivals, productions, parties.
b)Blogs, Facebook, Linked In
f)Through other friends
5.What to do when there are different interests between mates:
a)Accept some difference as healthy.
b)Allow space and time for each to pursue their own interests.
c)Decide if your differences are more important than your shared interests.
d)Always, always communicate without judgment.
e)If your different interests bother you, look within to seek why.
f)Different interests do not mean rejection.
6.How to introduce partner to new ideas when they have no interests in anything; burnout:
a)Find out why they have no interest, i.e., depression, stagnation, needing
time to regroup.
b)Make a deal. If they will try thus and so and you will return the favor.
c)Bring what you can to your partner if you cannot persuade them to seek
d)Continue to seek your own interests and allow time for healing.
e)Invite friends to spark a lively conversation or introduce something new.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share.
In Sisterhood, love and blessings
I truly appreciate my relationships with my sistahs, worldwide and the opportunity to hear their stories via the “Pen” is a bounty beyond measure. I am always seeking ways to better connect us on our heart levels because I feel that it is through our relationships and choices that we heal not only ourselves but the World, “One Heart at A Time”. May we continue to share our stories knowing that therein lays the power that we all seek, to heal the wounds of humanity. May this shared story open new ways of building and preserving relationships that are developing you more towards your own authenticity.