What Our Intimate Relationships Teach Us

Note: This is the second of a two-part series. Click here for part one

If you’re wise, you’ll view your intimate relationships—and your partner—as your teacher.  Your relationships have essential lessons to teach you, and you must learn them if you are to have a happy life:

  • Happiness in a relationship is not just a question of finding the right partner.  It’s also a matter of being the right partner, by you being willing to blend, being in charge of your anger, reactivity and defensiveness, being respectful, giving affection, love, forgiveness, commitment, fidelity, acting trustworthy and reliable.
  • In intimate communication, there is feeling and a fact.  We say: “I feel this about that.”  If you’re going to miss anything in that communication, miss the fact.  Do not miss the feeling, because the feeling is what matters.
  • You can find excellent reason to reject everyone—alive or dead—on this planet.  The trick is to find—and to continue to find—reasons for staying together.
  • You can’t withdraw when you’re hurt or angry.  Withdrawal is the death knell of an intimate relationship.  Withdrawal kills intimacy.  Far better for you to say you are upset, angry or hurt, and to attempt to talk it through.  You must learn to not put up a wall if you want a close intimate relationship.
  • Touch is the greatest aphrodisiac that exists.  It helps us to get close, feel close and stay close.  If you’re not touching each other a lot, your relationship is unlikely to feel hot and passionate, and both of you will notice that the closeness and connection you once had has waned.  I’m talking about affectionate touch, not sexual touch.
  • Ask yourself:  “If I were going to make this relationship work, what would I need to do?  What would I need to quit doing?”  Most people know what they want from their intimate partner, but few people have a clear perspective about what their partner needs or wants from them.  If you don’t know the answer to this question—or if your answers are superficial or vague—ask your partner:  “Are you getting your needs met in this relationship?  And if not, what would you like different?”  Then do your best to honor what your intimate partner says matters.
  • When your mate is angry, s/he is usually feeling hurt underneath that anger.  Ask why s/he is feeling hurt.  That’s how you can diffuse anger.
  • Stop complaining to friends and family about your relationship.  If you have a problem, go directly to your mate.
  • If you want your relationship to work, you have to make it your conscious intention and purpose to make it work.  In order for romance to stay alive, you have to keep it alive.
  • If your mate doesn’t feel cherished by you, your relationship will feel less intimate and less connected.  What behaviors would make your partner feel cherished?  Ask this question.

If you think about it, some of your greatest lessons have come from your intimate relationships.  It’s how we grow; how we gain wisdom and maturity.  Your relationships have something to teach you about how things work and how you are expected to behave.  With every misstep or error that you make, ask yourself:  “What is the lesson in this for me?  What can this teach me?”

You are likely to discover that many of life’s lessons are centered around your intimate relationships with those people close to you, especially your spouse or intimate partner.

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