What’s the Secret to Having a Great Relationship?
As Susan and I moved into our adult years, the many stories of love and marriage, through songs, cinema, books and our imagination, led us to the belief that, “the secret to having a great relationshipwas finding the right partner.” That seemed to be an obvious conclusion from all the love stories.
Consequently, like many of you, we tried. We really tried. I dated a lot. I tried many strategies. I was polite and opened car doors. I tried being aloof and hard to get. I tried getting the sex out of the way early on (“because, after all, if the sex wasn’t going to be good, why even go further?”). Susan practiced being a pleaser. She would clue into what a man wanted and needed and try to be that, over and over again.
Well, imagine our great disappointment when the “secret” failed. After all, we both fell in love numbers of times. But, after a while, things just didn’t work out. I was even married to two fine women, for over ten years each, and had four sons with them. In my second marriage, we met with seven therapists/mentors, none of whom was able to help us create a greatrelationship. Susan also married twice, for shorter times, and had a daughter. And there were countless other attempts for both of us.
So many connections, that lasted from weeks to many years, went from “This might be the one.” to “Oh no, she/he just isn’t right for me.” Or perhaps, “I wasn’t the right one for him/her.” And we are not the only ones who do this. Who among us has not searched long and hard to find that right person in order to have a great relationship? Few, if any, we would imagine.
So, what’s going on here, anyway? What happened to, “They lived happily ever after?” What were we doing wrong? Why could we not find that right person. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Or, were we supposed to just suck it up, accept that great relationships were just the stuff of fairy tales, and live with it?
Susan and I have now been together for more than 21 years. We have an extraordinary relationship.
What we have discovered with each other, and through our journey with the theories and practices of Imago Relationship Therapy, is that we were mistaken about the “secret.” The secret to having a great relationship is not about finding the right partner.
The secret to having a great relationship is being the right partner
Being the right partner involves choices we make in the privacy of our minds as well as the choices we make in relating with each other and our relationship.
Our ability to make the best choices, in thought and behavior, is influenced by our beliefs and understandings. As part of our work with couples, in sessions and in workshops, we share theories and practices that support loving and connecting choices.
In our The Stages of a Conscious Love Relationship presentation, we offer the participants a helpful way to understand the patterns that occur “normally” in relationships. We further make suggestions that can assist us to respond to these patterns in ways that promote safety, love and great relationships.
Author: Michael Davis