1. Confusing the real purpose of a relationship.

Relationship is a mirror in which you can see yourself in reflection. You may think that you are a certain way, but relationship will reveal the true you every time. Therefore, the real purpose of relationship is to understand yourself. Once you understand exactly what you are, then there is a real possibility of personal transformation. And personal transformation is what a successful relationship is all about.

2. Not understanding that you change and your partner changes as well.

Everything changes, regardless of how tight we hold on. An unwillingness to adapt to those inevitable changes creates an underlying fear that’s felt as a constant niggle, deep inside. We think that our partner will never change, but he or she does. We think that our partner is more than the sum or his or her parts, but in reality, they are only parts. And we think that we can somehow skip out on the angst and problems that others experience, but we cannot. We don’t yet understand the complete and naked human situation, and find ourselves still caught up in a bit of a fairy tale. We refuse to face reality, and as long as we do this, our relationships will surprise us in unexpected and unwelcomed ways. Only a mature analysis of our situation will provide the maturity and closeness required to weather any storm that may come our way.

3. Believing that a relationship must be perfect, and if it’s not, then it has failed.

A perfectionist is a strong willed individual. If things are not going his or her way, they are very disturbed. Anything out of place or anything that doesn’t conform to their ideas is hated. When a perfectionist enters into a relationship, the first lesson must be compromise, and this is a very painful lesson for a person who is uncomfortable if they don’t get their way. Their partner may not be a perfectionist, maybe a bit sloppy and seemingly careless, but not hateful, or not insisting that his or her way is the only way; maybe even a little laid back. In this case, the perfectionist should try to see the underlying positive qualities of their partner. Situations change, but reliable qualities remain relatively stable. Each partner, seeing the differences between them as well as the good qualities are what create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

4. Counting on a relationship for your ultimate security.

There is no ultimate security in this world, only relative security. We never know from day to day what will happen, including what happens in our relationships. People come and go, situations change, fortunes are lost and found. If, as a couple, you try to discover what doesn’t come and go, what doesn’t change, and what can’t be found or lost, the world won’t be as threatening as it can appear at times, and your relationship will grow closer.

5. Wanting more out of relationship than it can provide.

Any relationship is only so much, as is everything in this world. To gain a healthy perspective on this that will preclude immature clinging and attachment that can easily ruin a relationship with jealousy and fear, investigate the world and everything in it. Contemplate what you will take with you on your journey to the next world, other than yourself. The fact is, you can take nothing along but yourself, and therefore, it would be good if that self was compassionate, loving and kind. Regardless of how you achieve these virtues, and what you may have to give up materially to cultivate them, they are the qualities that make relationships strong.

6. Misunderstanding the limitations of our relationship.

What keeps a relationship particularly strong is a mutual understanding that there is something greater than the relationship itself. Without an understanding of this kind, the relationship can become top-heavy, stifling, and self-important. But if both partners, together, explore that which is greater, and this can be a spiritual, religious, or inward exploration, the mutual understanding that results actually strengthens the relationship. When two people work together toward a common goal of broadening their outlook and possibly understand at a deeper level, trust, companionship, and respect for each other increase. Limiting our energy and attention to only worldly endeavors of wealth, family and respect is an eventual strain on long-term relationships. To counteract this and build a solid spiritual foundation, devote fifteen minutes a day to silent contemplation together. This would be set aside for only the two of you, and separate from regular church activities.

7. Competing with our partner.

A truly successful relationship never involves competition with each other. In a good relationship, partners are aware when they react competitively toward each other. Ambition and aggressiveness must never be used against each other, but in concert to accomplish mutual goals. All acceptance of each other, good or bad, is the doorway to companionship, so each must realize and accept what the other is without trying to change them or compete with them. Otherwise, they will be in a constant state of conflict with no progress being be made toward a successful relationship.

8. Believing that life and our relationship should be constant happiness.

If we believe that life should be happy, and when it isn’t something is wrong with our relationship; this is not realistic. This fundamental misunderstanding could build anger and resentment in a relationship as we strive for unending happiness, something that is impossible. If we thirst for the constancy of happiness and believe that happiness will provide that constancy, we are hitting our heads against a wall because happiness is never constant, only occasional, and this basic misunderstanding sets us up for a miserable life filled with bitterness and simmering discontent . . . even anger. In a healthy relationship, we face this fact straight away instead of running from it as we have in the past.

9. Not understanding fundamentally that there are no essential differences between you and your partner.

You and your partner are made of the same stuff; stuff of the earth. When you both die, this stuff of the earth will return to mother earth to nurture new life. While you are both alive, you will operate through six sense organs that are your windows to the world; eyes, ears, nose, tongue, bodily sensations, and mind. When you understand this at a deep level, and understand that there can be no fundamental difference between you and your partner at this basic level, feelings of compassion for each other will naturally overcome any differences that you may have.

10. Thinking that you have all the answers for a successful relationship.

After reading all the books and articles on relationships, and perhaps feeling that you have all the answers, guess what; you don’t. The answers are never in books or articles; the answers can only be found in yourself, moment to moment. Nothing remains static long enough for any universal truth to apply. This means that you do not have an easy way out regarding relationships. Each moment of every relationship is unique, requiring special considerations. What we were yesterday is not what we are today, and that applies to our partner as well. Every time we see him or her, we must see them with new eyes. This is the only way that we can live the truth, and living the truth rather than living in images is what real relationship is all about.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-nine years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com