Posts Tagged ‘love’
Welcome to the third installment of “Know Your Partner”. In this series war are talking about questions you and your partner should discuss before you move in together, get married or have kids. These questions will help you find your partner’s “musts”. To read more about “musts”, check out Know Your Partner: Musts. In the last post in the series, we listed questions about relationships, every day life, family background and friends. This post covers questions about appearance, work, money and health.
Last week, we talked about how every person has “musts”, things they absolutely cannot live without. It is important for each person in a couple to know their partner’s “musts” before they decide to move in together, to get married or to have kids. This week, I thought I would give you a list of questions to help you along your journey. This list includes questions about relationships, everyday life, family background and friends.
This list is very important to use in different relationship situations:
Before moving in with someone.
Before deciding to have kids.
On anniversaries – in order to update each other about the ways we have changed.
When experiencing relationship conflict.
Before making the decision to break up a partnership.
There are a few rules to remember when asking these questions. This will make the question and answer process more effective and successful:
Any relationship is a form of agreement between two or more people. The deeper the relationship, the more things you will need to agree on for your relationship to stay positive. Some relationships, like marriage and having children together, are more important than others. They have a huge impact on our lives and our futures. I call them love agreements.
Love agreements will change over time. Just how they change will depend on the circumstances. Each person changes within themselves and their agreements with each other change accordingly. For couples, it is very important for each side to make sure they are “sailing in the same direction”. While each of them may change in different ways, together, they want to be going the same way. If one wants to sail north and the other’s greatest desire is to sail south, then their relationship will suffer. One or both of them will have to compromise.
When we talk about relationships, the word compromise pops up as a desired outcome. I think compromise is important, but I also believe that some compromises cannot last for very long. They are often the source of conflict and can cause much heartache.
The first 4 needs we discussed (variety and certainty, significance and love and connection) may interfere with each other and are in constant strive for balance. The last two needs that people have are the need for growth and for contribution. Unlike the first 4 needs, these needs help and support each other in order to achieve a higher level of fulfillment.
It is estimated that we need to have our first four needs met before we are able to grow and contribute. For example, it is very hard for people to give when they do not have certainty. Think about it. How easy is it for someone to give their time when they are working 14 hours each day to provide for their family? How easy is it for you to invest in growing, learning, developing, when you are busy trying to fit in with others who think learning and developing are not socially favorable? Not very easy, right?
Love and connection are needs that we all have from the day we are born, right up until the day we die. Here are some examples of gaining/expressing/feeling love and connecting with others. Please remember that what is seen as a positive way of achieving love and connection for one, may be considered negative by another. For growth to happen, we each have to go through this process on our own.
Being in a loving relationship
Research on relationships, health, wealth and wellbeing proves that those who live for a long time and are happy together are those who stay in their relationship for many years. It can be relationship with another person or with a whole community. Every time we connect with someone else and the communication or connection is positive, we fill up our love tank.
A heap of songs and endless movies discuss love in all its forms. Some say that it is one of the most important feelings and that it rules the world. Others consider it the only feeling that exists, while all other feelings are simply the lack of it.
Our need to be loved and to be connected to the world around us starts even before birth. It starts during the 9 months of relationship we have with our mother, wrapped up inside of her and waiting for our first meeting with the world on our birth day. It continues on until the end of our lives. Everyone wants to love, everyone wants to be loved, everyone wants to feel connected and belong. It could be an instinct that we used throughout evolution in order to survive, or maybe it is a social need. For whatever reason, our well-being depends highly on others from the second we are born.
While most people think that love is an emotional need, research done on the connection to parents and caring for babies thinks otherwise. It was discovered that children who grew up in orphanages, who were only fed and cleaned, and who did not receive love and affection showed severe developmental and cognitive delays and even permanent damage to the brain. So, love in not only needed for our well-being but has a huge impact on our abilities to think, connect, maintain our health, succeed and live long.
Parenting is a really important part of every child’s life. Not only because we rely on our parents 100% for food and shelter, but also because it lays the foundation for our futures. I want to share some things I learned in my psychology degree about how important parenting is in shaping kids’ lives, for better and for worse.
In my third year of psychology, I did a course on Psychopathology – the study of mental disorders. I found out that humans have an amazing capacity to cope. And boy, are we complicated! I also found out that one of the most important things with regards to mental illness is what happens to people in their early family life. On the one hand, if it is bad, it is one of the strongest contributors to mental illness. On the other hand, one of the best protective factors against mental illness is a supportive family. So what I want to talk to you about is the importance of a positive childhood. Because it is important.
As children, we look up to our parents. They are all powerful and all knowing. They tell us how to behave, and the difference between right and wrong. We turn to them when we need help. We copy their behavior, their coping mechanisms, and their attitudes. We define ourselves based on their feedback.
In the last chapter on tests in relationships, we talked about the risks of hidden apathy. Today, I will cover the risks of sympathy.
If you remember my example story, I was very, very sad when a contract I had been working on for about 3 years was suddenly stopped 2 month after it started. I was so excited and happy when it started that I was extremely sad when I was told the organization will not continue the project. To manage my feelings, I shared the story with people I have a relationship with. Lucky for me, most of my relationships were very supportive and I made sure not to share with those who were not.
Here are more examples of getting things wrong and failing the relationship test.
Here is an example of a relationship test at a level one – when one person is experiencing pain from an external source, which has nothing to do with the supporter/listener. Notice how easily things can go wrong and the relationship test can fail.
Last year, I was offered a position working within a team of people doing something that I absolutely loved. I had been working with them for over two years before that in an external capacity. We had been going back and forth for about a year, in discussions about me joining their team to write and implement a very special project. This whole time I was very happy and excited, waiting for the technical things to be sorted out so I could start the project. After two years of talking, it took a year to sign the contract and then I finally started writing the project. I was very hyped. But two month into the project, things changed in the organization. The person managing the project left and the wisest decision for me was to stop the project. I was soooooooooooooooooooooo disappointed. I was very sad and even cried. To manage the overwhelming challenge I was facing, I shared the story with other people, which put our relationships to the test. Lucky for me, most of my relationships were successful. While sharing my challenge with others, we both passed the test of support. But this is not always the case for every challenge. Here are some examples of relationships and how things can go wrong.
Most people have conflicts in their relationships and fail to resolve them because they confuse between empathy, sympathy and compassion. This confusion can be caused by either person in the relationship. It can be a result of ineffective expectations or insufficient support. Regardless the reason, life, the ultimate examiner, would give a “Fail! Big time!” on this test.
Understanding the difference between the three is essential to passing the relationship test. Here is my version of the difference.
Empathy is when you notice and understand the other persons’ situation, experience, perspective or feelings. It does not mean you share their feelings, agree with them or have been asked to share your judgment, thoughts or ideas. It definitely does not mean you need to solve their problem.
The best way to proceed is to say, “I can see that you are very disappointed and upset”, or just be a sounding board and repeat back to them what they said, “So you are sad because he was rude to you. I can understand why”. Often times, people only want empathy. Someone to talk to that will understand their perspective and feelings. Empathy is a way to give support with your presence.