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Relationship Success; What is the #1 Secret?

 

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After almost 40 years of working to help couples, I offer a podcast of substance on what relationships require to last for the long haul. I use books & movies to illustrate the points I’m trying to make. I offer challenges of things you can actually do in your own relationship at the end of every podcast which is under 10 minutes.

Listen on the player above or read here:

Relationship survival is something people should be able to learn more about in College. It’s one of the best parts of life, yet it is a mystery to most people. What is the primary secret to success? The more reality you face together, the better off you will be over the long haul.

Reality matters in relationships. Trust builds on truth and truth is about reality. When parents of teenagers come in complaining about their relationships I often send them back home with a question for their Teens “Tell me 3 ways I could be a better parent”. If the teen is willing to be real & if the parent can hear the truth & follow through with the teen’s requests an improved reality can begin. I’m flipping the power position from the parent to the teen because their reality often goes unexamined & unexpressed.

Reality can make a big difference. Reality can only be in between 2 people. Thats because no one person has a corner on the market. When 2 people are arguing in couples I take the middle path in between both of them because that is the most probable path for truth.

Last years terrific movie The Big Short was all about the price ordinary people paid because the banking industry & the government were not paying any attention to the reality of mortgage lending practices. The handful of investors who looked at the reality made a huge profit when the mortgage bubbled burst in 2008.

Reality is the infrastructure of our lives. Genuine moments of truth is the infrastructure that reality can create, a powerful legacy in a relationship. It’s like the 446 bridges in Pittsburgh where we have 3 more than the city of Venice & the most in the world. While infrastructure isn’t sexy it is crucial.

If you have a trustworthy partner then the two of you can work at facing reality together: a miscarriage, 3 miscarriages, death of a parent, death of a child, cancer & aging. All the hard things life has to throw at all of us.

It also means listening to each other’s feedback even when you don’t want to. If your knees hurt maybe we need to get serious about losing weight. I think you owe me an apology. Are you sure your Boss was being disrespectful to you….etc. Listening to another point of view without being defensive can be a precious gift……
because it is a gift that can help you grow……you can only grow when you are uncomfortable.

Think about that…..excellent partners can help us grow by honestly facing painful situations.

It’s all too easy to feel sorry for ourselves, to get defensive to only want positive feedback & support. We all like to play the victim, give me sympathy or shut up is what we really desire. However to grow up & change means to learn the truth of who we are and think about how to work to improve ourselves.

Lets look at 3 scenarios:
A young relationship where your partner is talking about marriage & deep down you know you are not ready yet….saying nothing to avoid being uncomfortable is cowardly. Your partner deserves the reality of the truth if you really love them.

A middle aged relationship might be a couple where one realizes they don’t have fun anymore….if you keep pretending this doesn’t matter, & dodge talking about it you will end up resentful. It’s way better to address the reality & problem solve it together.

An older couple might have dwindled into times or less a year which is considered nonsexual according to Barry McCarthy. Avoid sex at your peril, it’s sad to give up on one of the lovely free benefits of life. Who signs up to be celibate without any discussion???

All of these are situations where some one or both in the relationship decide to avoid & deflect. Reality matters! Avoiding contributes to emotional distance. Intimacy & connection require the reality of talking about hard things. Let me say
that again: Intimacy & connection require the reality of talking about hard things.

Often, every step of avoiding is a step of emotional distance. The more courage you have to talk about reality the more you will make real contact, connection & step toward each other. “We are spending beyond our means we need to both look at our parts in it & problem solve what to do” is a better approach than silently fuming & then dumping “OMG did you see the credit card bill, what are you doing”

Reality is part of learning how to be a better person in the world. Thats the true gift of love a reality check that helps you grow, I believe that is the purpose of relationships.

So many couples come in talking about communication problems. I think the reality that underlies communication problems are power struggles. Sharing power is complicated. Everybody wants power….everybody wants to be understood…..everybody wants to be seen, nobody wants to be invisible. I’m reading The Girls by Emily Cline & it is very painful to read of 14 yr. old Evie’s experiences. She is invisible, lost, unknown & powerless (her parents divorce is happening to her).

The reality of needing to see each other accurately, to make ourselves understood & to do the work of understanding and to share power in the complicated way it deserves in a relationship are goals worth striving for…..You are faster on the computer why don’t you plan our traveling, I’m better at aesthetics so let me pick the paint color…..play to the reality of your strengths & you will be several steps closer to relationship survival.

My challenge for you today: Draw a circle & divide up the circle into pie shapes about who has the power over what in your relationship…..Money, Kids, Fun, Vacations & who ever wants sex the least has the most power. Consider what’s missing in your relationship and when was the last time you talked about it…..or ask your partner what is missing for them & call it a reality check. Make a reality check a yearly habit.

Really glad you visited my podcast today. I hope you will take time to leave a review on iTunes & subscribe.

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