When finding a life long partner, look beyond the person you are with to evaluate the overall quality of the relationship. Ask yourself, does this person bring out the best in me and do I bring out the best in him or her? Are we thriving even better as a couple?
There is You, Me and The Relationship.
Clients over the years have told me that they met that special someone, or “the one.” They are so sure because the person fits their checklist for choosing a mate — but are stumped when something just isn’t working.
Relationships are intricate — they can’t be summed up with just a simple checklist. When you are looking for a life partner you have to look beyond these characteristics to really evaluate how you relate to one another.
Here are some areas to focus on:
Shared values and belief systems. Do you share a common vision for your life? You, of course, do not need to agree on everything, but if you have similar values in regards to work, money, sex, parenting, religion, how you spend your free time, and how you view extended family, there will be significantly less conflict. Life is easier when you both want the same things and have shared interests.
Conflict resolution. We all have conflict sometimes, it’s unavoidable. The question is, how do you fight and do you resolve the conflict. Couples that, even when angry or hurt, are respectful, empathetic, introspective, and reach resolution, do far better. It’s a predictor for long healthy relationships. It’s important to be able to learn and understand what is important to someone you care about and avoid shaming and blaming. Couples who get angry, shame, blame, criticize, and sweep matters under the rug — never reaching a resolution, tend to fare worse.
In conflict, we can grow and learn about what is important to our partner. Shift your perspective from winning or losing to growing and understanding your partner. It’s about compromise — finding solutions where you both win.
Be each other’s best friends. According to the famous work of John Gottman, Ph.D., being best friends is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. The feeling of being best friends, knowing each other so well, trusting one another, sharing secrets, laughs and supporting each other’s dreams creates the feeling of positivity about your partner and the relationship.
Be empathetic. Having a relationship where both of you are empathetic to one another, makes your connection feel safe and united. If you both have the ability to understand the feelings and perspective of your partner, resolving conflicts becomes much easier.
Be yourself. Ask yourself, am I thriving in this relationship? Do I feel loved, treasured, and heard? Can I be myself, even the things that make me unique and quirky? Or do I need to act differently to be loved and accepted. In relationships, the less complicated, the better.
Be your best self. Learn about yourself before meeting your life partner. Learn what makes you happy and what your triggers are so that you can work through them to be self reliant. It’s a mistake to expect your partner to make you happy. Come into the relationship as an equal, and expect your happiness to be your own responsibility.
Trust and respect are as important as love. If you treat your partner with trust, kindness, empathy and respect, love will follow.
Like and respect your partner. Seeing qualities in your partner that you truly respect and align with, will help you stay connected through the years. Whether it’s their humor, their community involvement, or their love of family, your partners’ characteristics that you value will help you stay together.
Time, together and apart. Spending time together seems easy in the beginning of a relationship when attraction and excitement are high. As years go by, and you get used to one another, people often have different needs. If you are a person who loves to be alone with your thoughts and hobbies, share that in the beginning of the relationship. And on the other end of the spectrum, if you want to be always together with your partner — like two peas in a pod — be honest about that too.
Take your time before committing to a lifetime. See each other in different environments and circumstances. Travel together and use these new experiences to learn more about each other. Wait a couple of years so you know who you are and what you really want out of life.
What you see is what you get. Choose the person and the relationship that you have while you are dating. This might seem obvious, but many people hope the person will change and be more loving, romantic, or different with money after marriage.
Have a shared vision of the future. Working together toward a shared vision is exciting and can unite you as a couple. Whether it’s saving for a downpayment on a house, supporting one another with careers, or starting a family, working and growing together bonds the couple.
Sharing your vulnerable self. Are you both kind, empathic, and helpful? Do you turn to each other, or turn to others, for support? Relying on one another, and knowing that your partner is there for you, creates the foundation of a healthy connection.
Choosing a life partner is one of the most important life decisions you will ever make. It determines who your family will be, your economic status, genetics for potential children, where you live, and the quality of your life. So when you are choosing this important person — pay close attention to the quality of your relationship. When making your decision, it is often helpful to seek premarital counseling. A few sessions before marriage can help give you the tools you need to have a healthy and happy relationship long term.
If you are interested in seeking therapy, you are welcome to call (760) 930-0886 to set up an appointment with me, Rakefet Benderly PH.D, a Carlsbad psychologist. Together, we can heal in connection.
Dr. Benderly is a psychologist practicing in Carlsbad, CA. She provides psychotherapy services to residents of North County San Diego including Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks, Oceanside, Vista, La Jolla, San Marcos, and Escondido.
Therapy offered in Hebrew and English.