by Helene Rothschild, MS, MA
Do you feel disappointed and like a failure because you love your partner but you still have many painful conflicts?
If you answered yes to the above question, know that you are not alone in your frustrations. Somehow, most of us have mistakenly been led to believe that love is enough to sustain an intimate relationship. The truth is that it takes much more than love to be in harmony with another.
As a psychotherapist, I have counseled many individuals and couples who were having problems in their relationships. In every case, when I helped the clients release their fears, hurts, anger, and resentments, they instantly were in touch with their love feelings. The love was always there underneath all their pain. Love was never the problem. And love was not enough.
What else does it take to experience harmonious, fulfilling relationships? First of all, I discovered that the most important ingredient is loving yourself. We have heard or read about the popular concept that women (or men) love too much. Quite the contrary, I have found that the real problem is that people do not love themselves enough. Therefore, with low self-esteem they are willing to put up with unhealthy relationships.
You may want to try this process to check out your self-esteem, your foundation for a successful relationship. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax. Then rate your self-esteem by seeing or sensing a number from one to ten, with ten being high. Now imagine that you are seeing an image of yourself standing in front of you. Tell the image of yourself what he/she needs to do in order to raise his/her self-esteem. Now visualize yourself acting out in the future what you need to do in order to experience more self-love. Take two deep breaths and open your eyes. You may want to write down the information you just received. You may also want to plan a time when you can follow-up on your suggestion to help you raise your self-esteem. Finally, congratulate yourself for being willing to tune into your inner wisdom, and to explore some solutions.
Other ways to help you love yourself include reading self-help books, listening to self-help tapes, attending workshops and support groups, and if necessary seeking professional counseling. It takes a lot of courage to say, "I need help," and to reach out for it.
The second necessary component in a successful relationship is good communication. If you are struggling in your interactions with others, there is a good chance that you can use improvement in this area. Make a commitment to yourself to learn better ways to express your thoughts and feelings, and to solve your problems. Your investment in the time, energy, and money will have excellent returns. With constructive communication, and with self love, you are well on your way to having the relationship you desire.
Other valuable pieces to the puzzle are two individuals having similar morals, values, interests, and goals. These are important elements to explore before you commit yourself to marriage.
However, sometimes these factors change later on in life and cause unresolvable conflicts. For example, one partner may change their religious or spiritual beliefs, and find out that their partner is unwilling to follow. In those cases, it is important to honor each other's choices, and support each other to pursue his/her individual pathâ€”even if it means separation.
Still another ingredient necessary to make relationships work I will express with the following saying: "People who grow together stay together." Often clients had serious marital problems because one of them chose to focus on their growth, while the other remained stagnant. As a result, they found themselves in two different places, and were no longer compatible. Love was not enough to keep them together.
The following brief questionnaire may help you to decide whether to commit to marriage, or to become aware of areas you may need to strengthen with your loved one. Place a check before the pieces which you feel confident that you have in your relationship.
___I love myself (my self-esteem is at least an eight).
___I love my partner (who also has a self-esteem of eight or higher).
___My partner and I have good communication, and we work out win-win solutions.
___We have the same morals and values.
___We share similar interests.
___We are best friends.
___We have similar goals.
___We are both growing, open to changing, and exploring our full potential.
Know that you deserve to have the loving, fulfilling relationship that you desire. Go for it!
Copyright by Helene Rothschild, 1-888-639-6390, www.helenerothschild.com