This well worn cliché, I have heard many times in many different circumstances. The idea that the concept of love and only love, will help couples overcome any difficulties they have is at best irrational and at worst, a misleading lie sold to us by society, religion and maybe the advertising industry. It also very much depends on your view of what love really is and there are endless opinions about that. It also suggests that a level of complacency and taking your partner for granted will be solved as long as you are in love. I prefer to look at a relationship in a much more practical way in terms of what you can actively do to ensure that your relationship is the best it possibly can be.
Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counselling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies with a speciality in CBT techniques. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr. Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who find taking therapy online as convenient and tailored for their needs. More Details HERE
I like to describe to my clients The Four Pillars of foundation that need to exist for a relationship to survive and are in my opinion along with effective communication, the basis of love. Love is not always the sugary concept sold to us and it is not something that will form on its own. It is like tending a garden…no water or fertiliser and plants will die even in the most fertile of soils. Tend that garden, pull out the weeds, water every day and you will have something that brings joy, happiness and a sense of sustainable value. So it is with love. The Four Pillars are as basic as you can imagine but often overlooked and neglected, played with and discarded. Let`s look at why these four elements are so important :
- Trust. Is this a no-brainer? Yes, it should be but trust is often lost and needs to be earned. Can you really say that you love someone you don`t trust? Trust is a major element in love and without it, there will always be a part kept back from the other. Many people bring trust issues into a relationship which are associated with the past or previous relationships. This is part of the immense amount of work that must happen to prepare oneself for a relationship. If these issues are identified as nothing to do with your current partner, find a way to fix it…get help. If it is to do with infidelity, ask yourself (if you decided to stay), is this the right decision? Can I let go? Am I able to trust this person again?
- Honesty. Another no brainer, right? While everybody lies and bends the truth, constant lying can rot the foundation of a relationship away. This is obvious and no-one wants to stay with anyone who lies. However, there is another aspect to this…emotional honesty. This means that we need to be honest about our feelings, anything that is troubling us, set boundaries and to be emotionally intimate.The process requires not only a desire to be aware of and in touch with our emotions and perceptions, but a willingness to reveal and share what we are experiencing with others who we trust to accept and honour our inner truth without judgment. It is the cream on the cake of a good relationship. However, most of us prefer to be emotionally dishonest through judging, lying, projecting or holding back true feelings for whatever reason. Remember, what you hide, holds you back.
- Respect. In my opinion, this is the big R of the four pillars. Respect comes in many forms…how you treat, talk, think and behave towards your partner. Over a period of time, this can be eroded to the point that you believe you can really do as you wish without problem or consequence. Respect is not about big gestures, holidays, gifts, etc. Respect is about doing the little things well and consistently. Remembering to send that text when you are going to be late, thanking for your partner or taking your share of household chores. Thinking team relationship!
- Mutual Benefit. Are you meeting your partner’s needs most of the time and allowing them to do the same? If not, then your relationship is not mutually beneficial. There is one aspect of providing for a partner’s needs but also, there is an issue with asking for needs to be met. This is one of the major aspects when deciding whether a relationship is tenable or not. It is the one thing that holds the other pillars upright. I would go as far as to say that if you feel your needs are not being met consistently and discussion has not changed that, it is a major reason to end the relationship…simple. Many of us give up our individuality when we meet someone, sacrificing our own ambitions for the sake of others in the name of love. We give up our own path and jump with free abandon onto someone else’s. We forget the best relationships are when two people on their own path decide to walk parallel to each other.
Apply the Four Pillars to your relationship, see what needs changing. Never accept anything but the best for yourself and the quest you are on with another person.
Read more in my book HERE