How to deal with difficult relationships… or, more accurately, how to deal with all relationships. I have never known an easy intimate relationship. Of course that might be something to do with my tendency to be attracted to difficult people.
Why are relationships so difficult? Because people are different. We all have different personalities, different goals, different likes and dislikes, different opinions and a superfluity of idiosyncrasies. And we all like to get our own way. It’s a wonder that any intimate relationship can survive past the totally idiotic and euphoric state of romantic love.
When was the last time you were in love? When was the last time your heart was broken? Then you understand what we are talking about here.
The nature of the sexual match and the plumbing involved has nothing to do with the ability of a relationship to survive. Heterosexual couples and homosexual couples have the exact same relationship difficulties, as do transsexuals and all the other crazy mixes. The problem is how in the world two completely different people can get along. How they can live together in reasonable harmony as least some of the time.
The BIG Secret
There is one secret to all long term relationships. Here it is. Make this pledge:
“We are going to stay together no matter what happens. We will work through any and all difficulties. We will get help when we can’t handle it by ourselves. Our relationship is more important than anything else in our lives.”
That’s it. You make this pledge to each other and you mean it. You stay together no matter what. Once you make this commitment your relationship is safe from harm. It means that you are willing to overcome any barrier and stay with your love.
It helps a little to understand how people choose their mate. Has something to do with their childhood, the parent who was most influential in their life. Most people are at least a little crazy anyway, and parenthood has a way of enhancing this trait. A child with an abusive parent will often choose an abusive mate. Why? Because at some level the relationship is comfortable. Early experiences of intimacy involved abuse and pain. Deeply embedded in the subconscious mind, intimacy is associated with abuse. People who grew up with loving and supportive parents usually choose mates with these same qualities.
It also helps to understand that relationships and intimacy come in waves, just like all emotional states. You may go through a period of love and intimacy that is delightful, and then go through a really rough time. Goes around, comes around.
Another aid; you seem just as irrational, stubborn, unreasonable and difficult to your mate as they seem to you. Works both ways. Want to end a bad period? Ask your loved one what they like and don’t like about you. Then admit to your failings.
Here’s the last suggestion of all. There are many things your lover does that displease you, maybe even approach what is intolerable to you. Whenever possible let it slide. When this is not possible, be as gentle as possible in your request for change. Then do the reverse. Ask your mate to tell you what they would like you to change. Then do your best to go along with it.
I hope you find all this useful. I’m now in the 26th year of my third marriage. Looks like it might last.
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