Pop quiz. What’s the safest way to ensure a healthy, happy relationship? While I can’t audibly hear your response, I’m 98.7 percent sure that your answer includes suggestions like developing trust and promoting open lines of communication. (The other 1.3 percent of me doesn’t really care what you think as that side of me is currently focused on the “Diff’rent Strokes” marathon about to start on TV Land.) But my nostalgic distractions aside, the rest of me feels compelled to offer an alternative to your relationship philosophy. While I can’t disagree with the importance of your points, my personal experiences have led me to adopt three essential keys which have proven vital in any attempt to sustain a healthy relationship. They are: strength, courage and wisdom.
I was recently speaking to a group of friends, and over the course of our conversation, I began to share my three-fold approach to sustaining a healthy relationship. As I delved into the particulars, many within the group loudly objected to strength sitting at the top of my list.
“What does strength have to do with anything?” they loudly slurred while signaling the bartender to bring a fourth round of drinks. “Why aren’t you discussing the real issues that tear a relationship apart, like a lack of trust or miscommunication?”
What they didn’t understand was that a person’s individual strength plays a key role in dictating the direction of the relationship. Is a person strong enough to avoid losing their individualism for the sake of pleasing the other person? And do they possess enough strength to resist the temptations that can come from the outside world and encourage cardinal sins like infidelity?
These and other questions should be asked when assessing the level of your own strength as it pertains to your relationship.
Despite the perpetual happiness of Rebecca and Uncle Jesse on “Full House” from TGIF’s of yesteryear, adversity knocks on every couple’s door—whether it’s overcoming infidelity, ignoring the increasingly loud voice of disapproving family members, or facing financial troubles capable of sapping the life out of any couple.
When dealing with these types of adversity, couples are faced with a choice: You can either have the courage to stay the course and fight for the relationship that you believe in. Or you can do like most people, and bail at the first sign of trouble. (This could help to explain our alarming national divorce rate.)
I personally long for the days when more brave souls are willing to stand up and say, “Despite everything that we are currently going through, I love you and I’m willing to stick with it to figure things out.”
But that takes real courage … something that is sorely lacking nowadays.
Wisdom within the context of a relationship can have many faces. For starters, it takes a considerable amount of wisdom to understand and appreciate the undeniable fact that throughout the course of your relationship, each person is bound to grow, mature and ultimately evolve. But many people (myself included) have used the idea of growth, as a primary reason to move on to something new. (Be honest, how many of you have cited “growing apart” as the reason that you left your relationship?)
A wise man (or woman) understands that change is inevitable, that growth is necessary, and that evolution is a way of life. They also understand that in order to account for those changes, both people have to be willing to adapt as the situation calls for it. Traditional dinner and movie dates are bound to get old. Anniversary outings to the Cheesecake Factory are destined to lose their luster. And an overall stubbornness to accept the change within a person is the first step leading to a couple’s demise.
It’s a good thing that wisdom serves as a capable antidote to the relational ills prompted by an indisposition to change.
The Fly Guy Moral: With that being said, here’s the absolute bottom line. Relationships take work. And if you aren’t ready to roll up your sleeves, and exercise a little strength, courage, and wisdom, then you’ll never be able to fully realize the true potential of your relationship. Your thoughts?