Number 30: What are the key ingredients to having a good relationship?
I was perusing the list of questions on the 5,000 Question Survey, and for some reason this one jumped out at me. But before I continue, let me make it very clear that I am in NO WAY shape or form a relationship expert. My answer to this question is based on my own personal past experiences; I don't claim to have perfect relationships. In fact the exact opposite is true: much of what I've learned about relationships is based on having experienced the good, survived the bad, and endured even in the midst of the plain ol' ugly.
So as I was thinking about the different types of relationships out there, such as marriages, boyfriends and girlfriends, parent-child and other familial bonds, and close friendships, and what I have learned, I came up with a list of five key ingredients that I feel have been essential for me when it comes to maintaining healthy and productive relationships. So here they are, in no particular order:
HONESTY... "Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters," by Albert Einstein. Yea, there's a reason the man is known as a genius, besides the whole theory of relativity thing. To me, honesty is vital, and I don't just mean being honest with the other person, but being honest with yourself. I really believe that without a basic yet strong foundation of honest-to-goodness trust, then there's nothing to build on. Can the truth hurt sometimes? Absolutely! But you know what? I'm the kind of girl that if I put on a butt-ugly outfit, I'd actually be mad at you if you let me go out in public looking butt-ugly, instead of telling me, "girl, I love you, but that outfit is SO not working for you! Now please go change!" Believe me, I'd rather know the truth straight from the get go, and I think most of us would too. Even with my son, I try my darndest to give him truthful answers, no matter how difficult the question and/or subject might be, and of course I explain things to him in a way that he will understand at his level. [Seriously, just wait until I post about the time my 9-year-old son asked me what a stripper pole was! Try explaining that one without blushing and cringing!]
COMMUNICATION... “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place," by George Bernard Shaw. Simply put: say what you have to say, openly and honestly. Don't assume that the other person should just KNOW, because guess what? He or she is not a mind reader! Seriously, unless the person is a true psychic, they don't always know what's going on in your head. Say it, write it down on paper, text it, Facebook message it, record it as an mp3 file and add it to their favorite iPod playlist, or even video tape your statement with you cell phone camera...whatever it takes to get your point across, just do it! Because at the exact moment that communication ceases, the bonds holding your relationship together slowly start to fray and weaken. Sharing is caring, right? So share your feelings, your thoughts, what's bothering you, etc. And if you don't, you can't blame the other person for not "just knowing", that wouldn't be fair.
LOVE... “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in," by Morrie Schwartz. I mean really, need I say more? We have relationships because we have love to give, and we want to be loved in return. It's all love baby! Give love, be open to love...BE LOVE! (yea, borrowed that last one from Jason Mraz)
FAITH... "Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof," by Khalil Gibran. And when I say faith, I'm not just talking about faith in God, although as a Christian, I believe my faith in God not only helps me sustain good relationships, but is very essential in my life in many ways. When I say faith, I mean have faith in yourself, in those you love, and have faith in something that is bigger than the both of you. Have faith that your bond with each other is strong enough to withstand the ups and downs. Have faith in yourselves that you are worthy of one another, and that the value of your relationship is worth the risk of possible disappointment(s). Because we in fact are NOT perfect people, and yes we all make mistakes that can drive the people around us absolutely bananas. These mistakes can really rock a relationship at its very core. But if you both can maintain your faith in each other and truly believe in why you are married or together or friends or family in the first place, then you can make through to the other side. Don't always assume the worst in people, it makes for a stressful time.
HUMOR... You gotta laugh! Life is just too darn short to not laugh. I actually had to learn this one from my husband. My Freddie laughs at just about everything, which of course I know is just how he deals with it. He laughs even at times when it gets him in trouble, like when I'm irritated with him or when we're in the middle of an argument. Oh yea, imagine how infuriating it is when I say to him, "don't you dare laugh!", at which point he proceeds to burst out in the most annoying guffaw! But you know what folks? That humor is one of the many things I totally love about my man. My hunka-hunka burnin' love has taught me the value of always finding a way to laugh, even when it seems like life couldn't get any worse. That humor has saved me from ending up in the loony bin, I can't even tell you how many times!
So there's my take on the key ingredients of a good relationship. Now for any of you who are rolling your eyes because you think I'm over simplifying the dynamics of human relationships, I'm really not! Obviously there are a great many facets to any relationship, and I freely admit that there's a very real possibility that I'm totally full of crap. And like I said, I DO NOT have perfect relationships, and I don't know how to have a perfect relationship, or that even such a thing exists! I mean really, if I knew the exact scientific formula to a successful relationship, first of all I'd be richer than Oprah and Dr. Phil combined, I wouldn't have had the mind-numbingly large number of bad breakups in the past [can you say restraining order? TWICE!], I wouldn't have literally cut an ex-friend of mine completely out of my life less than a year ago, and I wouldn't have a sister than I'm estranged with. So again, clearly, I am no expert! All I know is, when I look at my wonderful marriage, my current close friendships, and the incredible bond I have with my parents and [most] of my siblings, the five things I listed above are all the common factors that blend together to create fairly harmonious connections. Do things sometimes go off the rails? Of course they do! But again, for me, I keep coming back to the basics. And when I do, you know what? Life goes on, and life is great!
And of course, I'm dying to know: what do you think of my list? Am I spot on? Am I full of it? What would you add to this list?
*photos courtesy of this SITE