Relationship as a Path to Wholeness: Keys to Long-Term Success

By Suzanne E. Harrill

Introduction: Of primary importance on the spiritual journey is to know ourselves and live more and more each day from the place of wholeness, of being our authentic, true Self. Living with another person in a marriage or long-term relationship is one, if not the most, powerful way to know yourself, heal the negative effects of conditioning, and create a happy, fulfilling life. How do we learn and grow from the challenges that arise from living with another and at the same time create satisfying, successful relationships?

It begins with self. Learning to truly be happy requires you to take full responsibility for your own life and happiness and to remove all expectations that another can do the job for you. It requires a deep understanding of yourself, so self-inquiry is at the top of the list of skills you need to develop. As you learn to trust your inner process and reclaim your personal power, you move forward. True happiness and fulfillment must come from within yourself. As you transform and seek greater self-awareness it automatically expands to include having healthy, satisfying, love relationships.

In conjunction with taking personal responsibility for your own life and well-being, there are positive, proactive keys that support a healthy, satisfying, love relationship. Here are twelve keys I observe from my own life and humbly share them with you.

Twelve Keys to Relationship Success

Know Yourself - Study your family of origin to understand patterns of thinking and behaving. What did you learn from your mother about love, communicating, anger, emotional support and encouragement, autonomy, money, relationships, etc? Your father? Your extended family? Are they true for you today? How have each impacted your relationship(s) to date?

Love Yourself - As you expand feelings of self-worth, love for your partner grows as well. You love others to the degree you love yourself. Review and practice ways to build healthy self-esteem (for example, articles on this website) and mirror this to your partner.

Practice Tolerance, Patience, and Forgiveness - Your partner is in charge of her/his life, making choices and living according to what s/he values as important. When not meeting your wishes or needs, having traits you dislike, or making choices different than you would like, it is important to find ways to understand and accept your partner the way s/he is. People change for their own reasons not ours. Unconditional acceptance grows as we let go of control, release unrealistic expectations, and learn to value the other as is. Learn the difference between what has the potential to change and what you must accept about your partner and your relationship.

Resolve Conflict, Take Responsibility for Healing Your Own Issues - Differences arise in any relationship. Problem solving, compromise, and fair fighting techniques are necessary skills for living peacefully with another. Express yourself; communicate, know your limits, be fair, and be honest. Start by always telling yourself the truth about what you think and how you feel, then talk to your partner on a regular basis. Journaling helps clarify your thoughts and feelings before talking. Listen to your partner. Most people want to be heard and understood more than agreed with. Recognize and do something about your personal issues that get in the way of a good relationship.

Uncover Your Shadow (Unconscious) Side - See your reflection in what you like and dislike in others. Learn about hidden parts of yourself by seeing where you project issues and traits onto your partner. Projection is a self-protective defense mechanism where one sees traits, behaviors, or beliefs that one judges as bad or negative, only in others and not in oneself. On the journey to wholeness we need to claim 100% of ourselves and take full responsibility for who we are and what we do. Allow your partner to be part of your self-awareness process to mirror potential aspects of yourself. Read, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford.

Balance personal time with together time - Independence is a good thing as is healthy dependency. Personal time includes such things as alone time, exercise or gym time, or being with friends. Together time includes activities with just you and your partner or when both of you share activities with others. When there are children, family time needs the same attention.

Update Faulty Thinking - Continue rooting out beliefs about relationships and life that stand in the way of your success and happiness. Then update them to higher truths.

Have Fun Together - Rekindle romance. What got you started in the first place? Find activities that you both can share, whether you are similar or miles apart in personality and interests.

Build traditions - Build roots and security by celebrating birthdays, religious holidays, holidays like the 4th of July with a yearly cookout with family & friends, meeting weekly for a dinner date, taking vacations together, enjoying neighborhood street parties, or attending a place of worship.

Self-Actualize - Use your talents, explore your interests, learn how to get your needs met (many times without your partner), and grow toward your potential. Support your partner to do the same. The more attention you give to strengthening your inner self and your own life by growing, exploring, and creatively expressing, the healthier and happier you will be as a couple. Find meaning and purpose as a couple. What is your purpose together at this stage in your relationship? How can you actualize this purpose in the world?

Take pleasure in what makes your partner feel happy - Show interest, caring, love, and support for your partnerís work, hobbies, or interests, and volunteer projects.

Share Bonding Practices - Build connectedness and oneness. Walk, meditate, or take a class together, drink coffee or tea together each morning, share meals, talk daily before work or bedtime, express gratitude toward your partner and the relationship often.

In conclusion, as you claim your inner power, taking full responsibility for your own life, you are in charge of your own emotional well-being. Awareness is the key that gives you the power of choice to improve your life and consequently your relationships. Add to this the Twelve Keys for Success in Relationships.






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