Why are you here?

Why are you here?

on this special day?

But, while you are here, I suppose we have something in common,

and so I think this post,

how to NOT lose your love,

would benefit the two of us.

My qualification?

Speaking from the experience of someone, who lost his love.

I. Whatever Happens, STAY!

A reporter asked the couple, “How did you manage to stay together for 65 years?” The woman replied, “We were born in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away.” (From someone wise)

Keeping your love alive has to start with YOU.

Whenever the fight starts,

whosever fault it is,

whoever else involves,

whatever happens,

and however crazy things go,

you stay.

And I’m amazed at how many of us are guilty of this one simple mistake. Too often things aren’t that bad, 

if we survive the storm, of course.

I was guilty of this, too. Looking back, I regret having let go of her hand during the dark time of my life (my infamous story here), because of my low self-esteem,

my tendency to resort to negative thinking;

because I thought that it wouldn’t work out,

that since I brought her nothing but misery, I’d better let her go with someone else who could make her happy.

Ah! Well! What a great self-sacrifice!

My friend, learn from my mistake.

If you care at all, you need to stay.

If you care enough, at least you get to stay until the end, whatever end the two of you end up with.

Wanna hear something wise?

Simple, but wise?

“Till death do us part…”

You see, keeping that vow requires either a strong faith in God, or a strong commitment in the relationship.

Sadly, our high divorce rate (37% in 2016 (1)) must give some grim insights into our perception toward religion and marriage.

But,

It’s easy to say than do, right?

Well, it helps, if we adopt this attitude:

Realize that We’re on the Same Side

It’s too bad that I learned this from Zig Ziglar long after she’d gone.

We need to remember that,

if the boat sinks,

nobody wins here.

Both are losers.

Too often we become so obsessed with winning the fight that we forget why we started that fight in the first place.

Each of us would look to imitate the other’s behavior.

Likewise, we all prefer to be the second to apologize. Nobody wants to take the initiative.

Thus, being on the same side means we need to give up our own pride, presumption, and the desire to be right, to get even.

Also, because we’re on the same side, the rule to communicate is this:

Question our partner’s Action, NOT Intent.

Questioning one’s action means studying the impact of the act, whereas questioning one’s intent implies looking at the doer’s character.

Why not intent?

Well, from a logical perspective, questioning your partner’s intent gives you limited and subjective answers,

either yes/no,

whether good/bad,

commit/not,

in/out, etc.

Such information is only useful to help us decide whether it’s worthwhile to hang on, or let go

NOT

how to fix the “broken thing” here.

Besides, you wouldn’t believe your partner’s response, if what he/she said doesn’t match your own presumption answer,

would you?

I don’t know why people, me also, seem to have an endless desire to hear the words “I love you” repeatedly from their darlings.

Maybe to reassure themselves that they are, in fact, “still” in love,

Or,

to use the mantra as a kind of affirmation, in a vain attempt to counter their own negative thinking mode, that is constantly on inside their heads.

Moreover, questioning one’s act allows the doer a chance to defend his/her case. Now, whether we believe the explanation or not, that depends on many factors.

But, at least we give our partner the benefit of the doubt,

if our love is strong enough to make us open our heart,

to trust,

and become vulnerable.

Besides, focusing on the action gives us a chance to express our concerns, thoughts, and feelings regarding how the act affects each person and the relationship.

Sometimes people act like a jerk simply because they aren’t aware of how their actions impact others.  

Now, I’m not promoting the “I would do anything for love” ideality here, nor am I suggesting that you must never question your lover’s intent.

All I’m saying is that once you’ve determined to stay, you need to gather objective information to assess and resolve the problem.

Let your heart decide your destination, and your head show you the way, not the other way around.

Ok, and how do we fix it? 

First, you must be willing to communicate and share the information, so that you two understand what’s going on. Second, you need to develop your skills, and that requires self-education.

1. Happy relationships start with Sharing

You can assess how close two people are by measuring

How much communication take place,

How many activities are done together,

How many thoughts, emotions, feelings, and

how much experience are shared.

If you’re going through hell,

I mean,

You plan to get THROUGH, not staying there,

then by all means, let your partner tackle the challenge with you.

And there is one scene that I’ve seen it played out over and over in movies, in which the couple, after surviving a horrendous journey, kiss each other intensely.

In fact, research (2) suggested that sharing painful experience promotes trust and acts as a social glue that strengthens relationship bonds.

My speculation is that, not only painful, but sharing any kind of strong emotional experience still does the trick.

You guys might think that it’s noble to endure the struggle by yourselves,

that you don’t want to see your lovers suffer (I don’t know why I feel mostly men think this way…well, it’s just my opinion),

But that is truly an opportunity to make the two of you stick together.

Plus, two people working together, will have a much higher chance to successfully get through the hell,

or stay there, sanely, a little longer.

After my husband Tom died, I had friends who were kind, but life was very empty. You can watch rubbish on the telly if there are two of you, but it’s so difficult to watch rubbish on your own (Judith Kerr (wiki) on The Guardian (3))

And the last point is exactly what I’d like to tell you next.

Sharing is great for problem-solving. But sharing is also one way people use to feel being loved, to seek support and affection.

And men, like me, are so wise to know this. We know what women want when they tell us about issues at work, at play.

They’re in pain and need our support, so we’re on a mission to solve those problems,

as a way to show them that we care.

Wrong!

Women aren’t that fragile like those lost little princesses that we are bombarded with in fairy tales and movies.

No, they are grown-ups, who no longer want babysitting, and can take care of their problems.

They just need a shoulder to lean on from someone, whom they trust.

So, mate, all you need to do is to shut up and listen to the whining, 

and occasionally show your empathy,

if you can.  

Please don’t pass judgement, or offer suggestion, without being specifically asked.

This was my regret, too. I don’t mind listening to someone’s problem. But, my experience of working as a teacher has made me become more solution-oriented.

Also, offering advice in an intimate relationship is risky, because my enthusiasm (and frustration) to help might be taken to imply that, there’s something wrong with her that needs to be fixed;

Or even worse,

“Who you’re right now is no good for me, so please hurry and grow the f!*k up!”.

My friend, learn from my mistake. Otherwise, soon or later,

your partner will have to find a therapist,

or a emotional tampon friend,

for emotional support.

2. Building happy relationships requires Self-education 

Sharing enables the give and take of information and emotional support. To build and keep a happy relationship, however, you need self-education.

If you double your communication skills,

listening skills,

stress-management skills,

goal-setting skills,

Think how much they will benefit your beloveds.

If you care enough to communicate, you can share information about what’s happening; and if you learn to communicate skillfully, you will be able to resolve the conflict;

If you care enough to listen, you can understand what’s troubling your partner; and if you learn to listen skillfully, you will gain insight into how to make him/her happy;

If you care enough to manage stress at work and at home, you can achieve a better work/life balance; and if you learn to manage stress skillfully, you will become a calmer, more playful, and patient partner;

And if you care enough to set goals in all major areas of your life, not just your relationship, you can avoid pursuing one goal at the expense of the others; and if you learn to set goals that are not only powerful and inspiring, but also achievable, you will become a more attentive professional and partner, by being able to work when you work, and play when you play.

See how personal growth affects your relationship?

The best gift you can give to yourself and your loved ones is self-investment,

To become Better,

Stronger,

and Wiser.

Had I done that, I would have had better options, other than self-sacrifice, choosing to let loose of her hand, because I could have got a much stronger, and farther reach.

II. Whatever Happens, Accept it

And this is a secret of every happy couple.

It’s a secret, well, because nobody is willing to tell the public about problems that they are having in their relationships.

We tend to assume that we broke up because such and such matters couldn’t be resolved, that everyone else is ok except the two of us (the two of you, actually).

But if we look closely, every couple does have a problem. The difference is, for them, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Whereas for us,

There must be something wrong with us

(my translation: either

i. I’m wrong (poor me!), or

ii. You’re wrong (honey, admit it, but don’t despair, because i’m gonna fix you up, even if it kills me!).)

They realize that no one is perfect,

that it’s perfectly normal to have problems in a relationship,

that there’s no perfect couple living happily ever after, only couple that are happy with their imperfections.

So, don’t say that “I’m in a relationship, and I have a problem…so there must be something wrong!”;

Instead, like Wayne Dyer, say this

“I’m in a relationship, and I have a problem…and there’s nothing wrong with that”.

~o~

To sum up, to NOT lose our loves, we need to learn to stay and work together to fix the conflict, by

  • realizing that “We’re on the same size”,
  • questioning the performance, not the performer,
  • communicating and sharing information,
  • and focusing on self-education, not self-sacrifice;

And remember that no one is perfect, and that’s perfectly fine.

And suppose you’ve done all these, yet things didn’t work out, what then?

Well, keeping your love has to start with you, but that won’t necessarily ensure a happy ending.

Don’t press me why on this. Call it whatever you want, whether it’s fate, destiny, or bad luck.

But NEVER ever let it become an obsession of your life,

to seek an answer for why the other left.

(The bad news is that you can’t control fate, but the good news is you can make fate work in your favor instead of against you, let me show you how)

Again, I’m talking from my own experience here. And, my experience also tells me that, despite what I said, you wouldn’t listen anyway.

So to save you the time and frustration, here’s my best answer: As time goes by, our stories might change, because there will be changes.

Let’s forget the cuts and bruises that we’d inflicted on one another, so that whoever stay or leave, can look back the journey past with a chuckle: “We’d given each other best moments in life, farewell”.

If you do this, you can let your past rest in peace,  become grateful and make the best use of the experience.

If you benefit from this post, share it with your loved ones, so that they benefit, too. Everybody wins, when somebody shares!

and until our paths cross again, enjoy your journey!

 

Reference

(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2016). Provisional number of marriages and marriage rate: United States, 2000-2016. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/national_marriage_divorce_rates_00-16.pdf

(2) Bastian, B., Jetten, J., Ferris, L. (2014). Pain as Social Glue – Shared Pain Increases Cooperation.  Psychological Science, 25(11), 2079-2085. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614545886

(3) Cook, E. (Jan, 2018). How to live well: Judith Kerr’s reasons to be cheerful. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/jan/28/how-to-live-well-judith-kerr-reasons-to-be-cheerful

Author: Rumi Tran

A vEgEtAriAn/A wAnnAbe Artist/A DreAmer/A PsYcho