Everybody wants a meaningful and lasting relationship. So, why does there seem to be such a scarcity of great relationships these days? Is there some way that we could be better prepared before we take a big relationship plunge?
While every relationship has its own unique complexities, I believe that what we bring into a relationship emotionally is crucial to the success of that relationship. Too many people make a commitment to another person without being emotionally aligned with the reality of that commitment. They are still thinking like an individual instead of a couple.
When one becomes two it’s time for an upgrade
When we decide to settle down in a relationship, we need to change the way we think. We need a different kind of internal program if we want to enjoy all the benefits of a relationship that can go the distance. When we are single, it’s easy to be centered on ourselves because we live in a simpler, more singular world. Function on that singular level is not very complicated.
To be part of a lasting and supportive relationship, we need to expand our thinking because life gets a bit more complicated and requires a program with greater capacity. That means it’s time for an upgrade. To succeed in a relationship, we need to reprogram the way we think about life. If we do it right then life gets better, more meaningful and rewarding.
Out with the old, in with the new
Anytime we raise the bar of expectations in any area of our lives, we need to upgrade our internal programming. Those who choose to stubbornly stick to their old way of thinking can’t experience meaningful growth.
If we want to accomplish something extraordinary, like a truly successful relationship, the place to start is internally. Our old way of thinking got us where we are, and that was what it was designed to do. But now we are ready to move on, to grow and expand our world and reach out for more.
Know what you want
When a computer programmer decides to create a new program he always has a reason, an objective. Programs are designed for very specific purposes. If the programmer doesn’t understand what he is trying to accomplish, how can he design the right program? Likewise, before we can change our thinking, we need to have a clear understanding of what we intend to accomplish, and why.
Let’s go back to our single person who wants to build a relationship. For the sake of discussion, let’s just say he’s a single guy who has enjoyed living on his own for the past five years. Now he’s met someone really special and as the relationship grows he wants to take it to the next level.
The relationship shift
Now his internal focus has shifted to include another person and his mental reference point has changed from me to we. At this point his life needs to be played by a completely different set of rules because he has a whole new point of reference.
Including another person in your life means changing the way you think about everything. It’s your life times two and then some, which means it’s at least twice as complicated. We won’t even talk about what happens when you bring children to the mix. So why do it? Why purposely complicate your life? Because you know that it has the potential to be at least twice as rewarding and enjoyable. You know it and you want it.
A real relationship needs a serious commitment
Here’s a chapter from my own life. I didn’t get married until I was in my thirties, and the reason for that is – I only wanted to do it once and I wanted to make sure that I did it right. My dad had drilled it into my head as a kid, “don’t make promises you can’t keep.” I knew that marriage would be one of the most serious promises I would ever make, and I wanted to be sure that I could keep my word.
So I waited. I waited until I met somebody I knew I could not live without. Obviously, I wanted it to work. Realizing that there are certain things that can quietly undermine a marriage, I wanted to make sure that these things were handled before I made a major commitment to our relationship.
Leave the baggage behind
One of the subtleties that will unravel the fabric of a relationship is when someone carries a fantasy about a past flame. I’d seen it happen to other marriages, and I wasn’t about to let it happen to mine. So I did a little self-examination to see if I was harboring any fantasies of this sort. I made sure that each memory of past relationships included complete closure.
For a single person, perhaps such fantasies aren’t considered harmful. But they can spell disaster for a marriage because every time there’s a disagreement you can escape into the fantasy of “what if.” This may seem like a small change and obviously there were others that needed to be made as well. But 27 years later, here I am, still married to the same, wonderful woman.
Channel your emotional power
So, why was I motivated to do this self-examination and to root out any little problems that I found? Because my emotions were fully engaged and I was highly motivated to make whatever changes were necessary. I knew that I wanted to build a relationship that could go the distance, and I wasn’t about to let anything stand in my way.
In this crazy world, a truly meaningful relationship really is an extraordinary thing. If that’s the kind of relationship that you want, then you need to be willing to upgrade the thinking that drives your behavior. You need to program yourself for a relationship that will bring genuine joy and meaning to your life.
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