At best most relationships are messy — how could they not be when you have two or more very human beings trying to meld, mesh, co-habit or get along with each other. When I talk relationships, I mean all of them. Lovers, friends, kids and parents, work colleagues, life partners and the family they come with.
Successful relationships usually have less to do with what we have in common, than the number and type of quirks we can accept or tolerate. This goes back to knowing and living our values, finding ways to be true to those values yet leave room for others to be who they are. When our values systems mesh we’re more likely to find it easy to get along, particularly if we pay attention to those values. Even the strongest and best relationships sometimes stumble into situations that cause pain or distance. Think of what happens in family relationships where a once close family member may say or do something which causes a rift that can last the lifetime.
So how can we have, maintain and keep relationships that are rich, juicy and add joy and texture to our life?
Firstly be aware that there is an unspoken contract of expectations in every relationship. The first thing is to know what your own values and needs (must have’s) are in every relationship, and what you’re prepared to give to each relationship. Then have a look at your current relationships and see if you’re living with a snapshot of what that relationship was, rather than what it is today. This is particularly important with long term relationships, relatives, long time friends, and growing, maturing children. When we have expectations that aren’t met, or we feel let down, that’s often the reason — we’re operating from the past picture and the other person has changed, matured, or had different life experiences since the relationship first started.
If you find you’re in a stagnant relationship that seems to have lost its connection, one way to ‘catch up’ with where they are, so that your relationship can stay relevant and nurturing is to answer these questions:
In the early stages of our relationship how did I feel and what were my thoughts about that person?
Today, how do I feel and what are my thoughts about that person?
What can I do to bring the relationship into a healthy current state using my values and needs, and maybe change what I’m prepared to give?
How might I do that, and by when?
By monitoring the unspoken contracts to see where they are today, we are more likely to become closer to ideal, fruitful and loving, respectful relationships than by taking them for granted, and expecting things to stay the same. Nothing stays the same — including you.
I’d love to hear how you’re evaluating your relationship contracts.
Originally published at medium.com