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The Most Important Thing For A Long Term Relationship That Many People Overlook

The Most Important Thing For A Long Term Relationship That Many People Overlook

None of us are untouched by love. It is a basic human need to be desired and nurtured, and although there are many degrees and standards by which we all live (and love) it is safe to say that we each have an understanding of relationships. They begin when we connect with any other human. But where do they end?

Though not unheard of, long-term relationships are much more rare these days, we are less likely to enter such a hefty commitment. So what do we enter into, and why? And why are we seeing such a high rate of divorce?

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We often enter into relationships with a heady and optimistic outlook. We are in love! Or at the very least we think we are. Yet we are privy to overlooking the more pragmatic reasons for commitment, and in those moments of passion and daring we can overlook the most important factor:

Are we compatible?

There are two ways to look at it really, but both answers start with the same question. How well do we know ourselves? If we can fundamentally understand what it is we are dealing with, we can proceed with honesty and care and we can generally reach a positive outcome. But we need to know what we are dealing with.
When two people fall in love and enter a commitment, there needs to be a level of understanding. Both need to know who the other is, and they must know the core values of both themselves and their partner. If you begin to learn these things further down the track, things can get complicated quickly.

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We each have different backgrounds, different views. We belong to different religions, have different ideas on how to raise children and have differing views on politics. We belong to different sports teams (this can be bigger than you think!), have different kinds of relationships with other members of our family, with friends. We need to understand these things about each other before we continue. When we know ourselves, we can teach each other, we can begin the wonderful journey of discovery. And then we are left with two possibilities. We can either be compatible in our views, or we can differ somewhat in our opinions but agree to always respect the others ideas. Compatible, or compatibly in agreement.

Key Values

Divorce rates are high. The most common reasons for divorce are that we get lost in the ‘role’ of our marriage and we lose our identities. Infidelity is also high on the list, as is a loss of intimacy, financial woes, and fighting/ disagreeing. But one of the greatest reasons for divorce is that we get involved for the wrong reasons, or we do not significantly understand what it is we are getting involved with. We leap before we think, and it is only later that we begin to learn that our core values are exceedingly incompatible.

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The silver lining is that things can be truly helped by communication. If we are honest, and kind, and we talk openly about ourselves and proceed with love and care, we have a much greater chance of something great. A good relationship is an agreement between two people. You work out what works for the two of you — and it is always different — and then you stick to it. It really can be as simple as that. At the end of the day, we can’t know exactly what will happen and things happen in life that change us. Our views can shift, and we can react to situations in ways that we never thought possible. But what we CAN do is be as prepared as possible. Trust our guts. And communicate.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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