The Good Relationship - What it Takes

In my early 20’s I dated like a wild cat and my list of eligibility prerequisites was short sweet and simple. 

  1. I had to be attracted to you.

As I moved into my thirties I was married with children, a shameless flirt and demanding of the attention I thought I deserved.

I worked hard on my body and kept my home in alignment with the strictest of Home and Garden protocols.

I was the original poster Mom for helicopter parenting and won the hostess of the year award in my large social network.

As my then self wanted, I insisted that my mate do as I did – minus the flitting about of course – or, at the very least, he do as I said.

When I turned 40 years old my marriage ended (I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming) and it took me five months to wake up to the reality that I was living in a house that reeked of new furniture instead of the comfortably antiquated familiarity I had grown accustomed to.

When that happened I was so emotionally ripped open that I cried, everyday, for six months, which led me on a two-year personal healing hiatus.

This was not easy.

As a matter of fact, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I avoided socializing like it was a snake pit and instead, took care of my battered soul and my broken heart.

I was determined to clean up my part of the mess that had added to the ending of my marriage so that when the day came for me to get out there again I would be a new and improved, more consciously aware version of me.

But, there are some things that only live practice can make obvious and floundering around the dating pool showed me just how juvenile my relationship skills actually were.

First there was my foray into the online dating world.

While highly entertaining, it was also profoundly revealing. What it told me was this:

  1. I was starving for real connection
  2. I was delusional and gullible

Second was my awareness that just because I wanted to date this illusive creature known as The Good Man didn’t mean I knew how to find one or be with one. Nor did my intention describe what I thought being a good man was.

As I sorted through my messy relationship files a few things became crystal clear.

  1. Being good has nothing to do with whether or not one has a penis
  2. I had to become the good I wanted, so I would be able to recognize it when I saw it in another, and equally as important, when I didn’t.
  3. What I really wanted was to be a part of a good couple

This last one put the whole good thing into a context with which I could work because it became a viable, applicable, in motion possibility and being a form equals function type of woman if it doesn’t work in day-to-day life, it’s no more useful to me than another theoretical lecture on the art of zilch.

Here’s what I found, practiced and became that landed me in the juiciest, sexiest, most loving and growing coupling I’ve ever known, or even considered possible.

1. If you want to be loved define what that looks like to you. 

Then do whatever you have to do to love your honey the same way you want to be loved.

Sounds simple right? Now ask yourself what happens when, from your perspective, your sweetheart screws up royally.

How do you handle it? Do you leave? Yell? Ice them out?

If the way you respond to that infraction feels like the way you’d want to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot, great. If not, then you’d better make some changes or you’ll be living in hypocrisy, not a loving union.

2. Be honest and gentle, steadfast and solid in your mind and emotions. In a nutshell know what you are willing to be a part of and what you are not and be open to communicate with your beloved for as long as it takes to find peace, together.

This takes great skill and a desire for both parties to engage at the level of the heart. I’ve had some challenges take months to unwind in a way that both my dumpling and I felt heard, seen and taken for full on but in our hearts and in our communication we both knew neither one of us would accept anything less than integrity, honoring and loving of ourselves, each other and our union.

3. A relationship, or a couple, is not made of two it is made of three, distinctly individual energies. There’s you, then there’s me and finally there is us.

The moment we begin to cross-wire our identities or trade off our needs and wishes for the other, the health of our couple tree starts to fade.

While it is important to nurture and consider the relationship itself, to oppose, suppress or repress any part of the triad will cause damage to the organism as a whole.

4. Be playful with each other.

Laugh, giggle, wrestle, and watch cartoons or sexy movies together.

Try new things, go to new places, stretch and grow as a couple and encourage the other to do the same on a personal level while genuinely delighting in and supporting each other’s expansion.

5.Take space. 

Have your own personal room where you can lock the door and not be disturbed for any reason other than a real emergency and honour each other’s closed door time.

6. Set the one(s) you love free. 

This is not for the faint of heart but I promise if you can give your partner true unbounded freedom you’ll have it too.

You’ll be free from worry and trust will never be an issue again because you’ll realize that the love you feel is what you want, an unconditional one.

This is my definition of what it takes to be a good man and a good woman in a good relationship, what’s yours?

originally published in: The Good Men Project