How to have a healthy relationship?
Sometimes, I get asked the formula for happiness. Marital happiness, I mean, not any other...and after so many posts mapping loneliness, mistrust, and emotional abandonment, I feel that I can say something about the pillars of a decent, satisfactory married life. Please, consider this my own private wish list...
I have said too many times that marriage is a contract to help each other manage and heal the basic needs left unsatisfied by our "before life." In other words, tell me your childhood hurts and I will describe to you what are your needs and what can satisfy exactly those needs...People use confrontation and conflict, and this is not the right way to show your loved one how important for you is to have a base of solid love and respect. (If you want to fight, at least learn how to fair fight, will you?)
In terms of my metaphorical contract, it would say something like:
1.- Learn to listen carefully to what words I tell you; because they carry the kernels of my basic, true needs. If and when I tell you that I was beaten and humiliated by my family, your job is never to put your hand on me. If you violate my trust, I will grow distant and stop loving you. I told you about that terrible part of my story because I was wishing you could help me heal with good love; if you repeat the same hurt to me, I will be unable to forgive and will feel my distance and anger towards you justified. You were supposed to be my rescuer!
2.- If you don't know now, learn fast how to validate my experiences and my perceptions. Don't make fun of me, don't use irony or contempt referring to my experiences as silly aspects worth forgetting...those experiences made me the person who I am now, and you better appreciate me as I am. If you mention my experiences, use respectful words, please.
3.- It's not enough for you to validate my past experiences as real; you need to learn fast how to support me when by some life event, the past flares, and I'm found resource less. You are the chosen person to give me support because you know me better than anyone, and in this way, your support is precious...and there is nobody else!
4.- If you are not marrying a stone, learn that there is a wild emotional ride in front of you....My emotions surge through me and help me make sense of the world, and by sharing my emotional states I'm giving you a lesson. If you close yourself up because "I'm too emotional," then you are blind to one of the deeper benefits of living together: sharing emotions and connecting at this vibrant, deep level. Stop being scared of "being a sissy" and show your emotions. You don't imagine how important is your emotional life for me.
5.- Learn to keep an even keel, and don't get angry or frustrated with the inevitable life crises. They will come, but the point here is to learn together how to navigate the...These crises are opportunities for us to share personal growth, get to know and trust each other better, keep developing, and share mutual support.
Happy marriages don't happen by magic...What is sad, is that so many of us don't know what it takes to make it work, and use trial and error. When we have finished with the mistakes, sometimes is too late to repair the lasting damage done by our youthful ignorance and carelessness. Now, you have this list in your hands...if you are just beginning a relationship, can you print and frame this list? It will help you a lot to keep sane and happy. Please, let me know in some years, how did it work for you?