What makes the difference to whether your relationship will be healthy and happy or whether you are heading for a painful separation? As a psychotherapist with many years of experience in counselling couples in crisis, it seems to me that it boils down to a few basic ingredients.
- A shared vision for a future path together
- Acceptance of each other
Over the next few week I’ll be blogging on each of these.
Once the honeymoon period of excitement, racing heart beats and not being able to keep your hands off each other is over the question of long term commitment usually comes up. This can be a time when both partners lay their cards on the table and either decide to commit to one another, deliberately avoid the C word altogether or decided not to commit and go their separate ways.
Much of the conflict in relationships comes about when one partner is more committed than the other and differences become highlighted. If one partner is fearful of commitment they may decide to only stay for as long as the honeymoon period lasts and then move on. That way they can stay safe while enjoying the passion of the early stage of relationship.
If neither person is committed to being together long term then the relationship will either drift along or fizzle. No-one will get hurt but the opportunity to move into a deeper state of connection is lost. Couples can drift for years with both partners avoiding the commitment conversation. On the surface things may appear to be well but underneath there are inevitably feelings of insecurity, fear of rejection or fear of abandonment.
If the couple does decide to commit then the relationship can move into another phase of relating without the rose coloured glasses. It does not have the same heart racing qualities as in the beginning but is replaced by a deeper sense of connection and contentment. If things get tricky or difficult later on down the line then the couple will have something to draw upon when conflicts arise. A couple’s commitment to work together through their difficulties with honesty and compassion is fundamental to the health and happiness of the relationship.