The Only Relationship Article You Will Ever Have To Read (Really)
“Good relationships are when your head, heart and hands agree most of the time and besides it doesn’t matter quite that much.” ~The author.
Centuries of research would agree that relationships fail for three main reasons. You will probably want to find out these three reasons for three different reasons of your own:
1. You are starting a relationship and want to be smart and avoid preventable failure.
2. You are in a relationship that is pretty good and you just want that reality verified.
3. You are in a not-so-good relationship and want to know if you should fish or cut bait.
Here are the three main reasons way relationships fail:
A. Wrong Start. When you are miles apart with tons of differences and incompatibilities—like physical attraction, religious practices, values, habits, character, commitment to the relationship, intelligence, openness to growing and improving, and desire to communicate—and only have minutes to get it together, who are you kidding? And then even if you are only a few feet away with these differences, and your approach to dealing with these incompatibilities isn’t in sync, how do you think you will ever close the gap? Simply put, what doesn’t’ start right, doesn’t have much of a chance of finishing right. Selecting a partner for a relationship is a skill that most of us just dabble at with the trial and error method, hopefully learning from our mistakes, but not really until the roof falls in. This beginning part of a relationship is where you have to build a strong foundation of the three C’s—Commitment, Compatibility and Communication—and when the strong foundation is not there, what do you expect will happen that isn’t bad?
B. Changing Middle. Unfortunately we don’t have a road map to life or relationships that covers the infinite number of unplanned changes that can occur, requiring the right reaction. People often grow apart in their compatibilities and even in their way of agreeing to disagree about differences. People learn, grow and improve at different speeds for many different reasons and that reality makes for miles of gaps with minutes to close them. This is a sad but true reality that you just have to adapt to in the best way you can; but in the end, you either accept it or don’t. Complaining never works and just prolongs the break-up. Something to consider: In reality, most of these seemingly unwanted changes, were just red flags that were ignored. Shame on you for not spending more time getting the start right!
C. Surprise Endings. Life continually throws us curve balls when we are least expecting them—physical or mental illness, unemployment, financial disasters, natural disasters, in-law interference, kids in trouble and sudden unexpected death. There are no preparations for these severe character tests and if you don’t have the character to thrive past the adversity, the ball game is over. And if you haven’t developed the necessary character to get to the middle part of a relationship, you are lucky and about to get very unlucky. And if you haven’t gotten it right by now, it may be too late for a happy ending.
It wouldn’t be fair to continue with this doom and gloom without posing some hope. The only real qualification about saving a relationship has to do with a simple choice we all have: To be open to growing and improving past relationship conflicts or not. And if you need a reason, think back to why you consciously or unconsciously made the decision to get into the relationship. There are lots of reasons but only one good one: Because you wanted to find the best place to be accepted for who you are and then be gently and lovingly encouraged to put your best half together with the other person so you could both get more out of life in being successful and happy as a couple than you could alone as individuals.
Here is some sensible advice to navigate these three mine-fields better, depending on where you are at now.
• If you want to avoid a doomed relationship, then use good common sense and slow down a bit, look closer and pay attention to the red flags warning you when there is something wrong in Dodge. It is never your last chance to get it right and there is no good reason for giving into impatience. It is too important to start a relationship right and well worth the time and effort to do so. You’ll only be sorry if you don’t.
• If you are smart enough to start a relationship right, then use your spare time when things are going well, to plan your reaction to when the relationship goes South from the changing middle. Then when those curve balls come, which they will, you will be in a much better position to hit doubles and home-runs and not strike out with the bases loaded.
• If you make it close to the finish line, you will be fine. Your good character will have been developed by now and you will have enough competence and confidence in passing enough tests along the way to be ready for the big one that is coming.
The more time you invest in the selection phase of a relationship and the more time you use to build a sound foundation with strong commitment, reasonable compatibility (at least with the way you deal with the annoying incompatibilities), and good communication, the more likely you will finish right. And let me leave you with one very important reality: The bigger the gap in anything, the more effort is needed to close it; but the size of the payoff usually exceeds the size of effort when it is headed in the right direction. That is a gift.
William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA., along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including his latest book “Reality Repair” coming shortly from Global Vision Press. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or firstname.lastname@example.org