A very dear friend of mine ended our phone conversation last week by saying, I have the perfect quote for you, I heard it on the radio: "A relationship is: Two imperfect people not giving up on each other".
She was right. I loved this quote, it resonated deeply with me. And I of course I immediately thought about (one of my) most popular article ever on Estrangement, where we do give up on a relationship (here) and the concept of people in your life for a reason, season and a lifetime. But regardless of all of these variations on a relationship that I notice, this quote still spoke to me.
It can be hard in the young family years to feel connected to our people, our partners in particular. The video series I did for the Mindful Mum, I talked about this season of life being the ones where you 'high-five your partner as you cross paths in the hallway'. For me, this translates into the ships in the night time of life, where there is so much work to be done, and not enough time to get it done, let alone rest and recover. And yet. I can't help but notice that even in the depths of the work that comes with simply being alive, let alone adding additional layers of complexity (family, work, friends, community, sport, school) that our enduring relationships persist because 'two imperfect people don't give up on each other'.
So with this frame in mind, here are my top tips for not giving up on your special one:
- Make time to remember the good things. Humans have a negativity bias, where we unconsciously track the negatives to make sure we are 'safe'. The trouble is that it takes 3 positives to counteract or neutralise the negativity we have perceived. Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray Love fame has a huge huge jar in her kitchen where she writes on scraps of paper the good things that happened to her each day. That way when she is feeling pessimistic or unhappy, she can scoop up the scraps and read them and remember the good.
- Do the work. Growing up is quite different to growing old. It takes a lot of adulting to grow up and continuously learn and grow. Relationships and individuals need focus over time to ensure they grow in the same direction. 'The work' refers to learning and growing. Seeking help and facing up to the tough conversations in life in a constructive and empathetic (to both yourself and others) way.
- Put down the heavy load: A relationship can feel burdensome sometimes. Perhaps it is circumstantial, perhaps it is seasonal, perhaps it is because there is work to be done. Regardless of your situation, every relationship does well when fun and lightheartedness are injected as respite from the burden.
How do you stay connected to your special person?