There are ten fundamental steps to make a relationship work over the long term. These steps involve learning how relationships work – which is something few of us are taught – and taking some basic actions that lead to fulfilling relationships.
In my book The Perfect Relationship I describe these ten steps. They have been gleaned from decades of study, work with clients, and from personal experience. I have worked with many clients on their relationships in my Voice Dialogue counselling practice, and I have worked on my own relationship with my partner of over 25 years.
The steps include practical techniques that establish and strenghten the connection between partners, common-sense considerations, and leading-edge discoveries in relationship psychology that explain how people bond with one another at the deepest levels and how that affects their relationship experiences.
I called the book ‘The Perfect Relationship’ because deep down that’s what most of us would really like, and, in a sense, it’s also what most of us get – but we just don’t realise it.
We All Get The Perfect Relationship
Let me explain:
We imagine that a perfect relationship is one with no problems, or at least problems that are easily solvable; a relationship where we are fully accepted for who we are; a relationship where passion and desire exists to the level and intensity that works for us; a relationship where we are always understood and loved, and in which we feel complete.
But the reality is that this type of relationship simply does not unfold for most of us when we meet someone we are attracted to or fall in love with. In fact, very few people end up experiencing this type of relationship.
Why Many Relationships Fail
The reason most relationships don’t turn out as we had hoped is that most of us don’t understand how to make a relationship work. And so we don’t know what to do in order to have a really good relationship. We just go along for the ride and hope it all works out.
If there existed an ideal world where everyone had an ideal upbringing, and adults were completely conscious and self-aware and able to express themselves fully and with the utmost sensitivity to the feelings of their partner, then relationships in that world may work out easily.
But we are not perfect in that way. We have all had experiences that have diminished our ability to relate well. We have grown up in family situations where we have had to suppress parts of ourselves in order to be accepted into our particular family and culture. We have had to adapt in order to survive and thrive. That has led to us over-identifying with some parts of ourselves and hiding others.
That process is unavoidable – it is partly the necessary socialization that has to take place in families and societies and partly because we all have unconscious biases and blind spots, no matter how enlightened we believe ourselves to be. It is the way the human personality forms that leads to some aspects of ourselves becoming dominant, with the rest being suppressed or completely unconscious.
So when we enter into relationship with another, we do so not being fully ourselves. And we bring to our relationships habitual reactions and defenses, expectations of our partner that they may be unable to meet, and our fears and hopes.
We want our innermost selves to be embraced and loved by our partner but we always have our armor ready.
Relationship as Teacher and Healer
The beauty of relationship is that it is a vehicle that enables us to become aware of our unconscious desires, prejudices and automatic reaction patterns.
The process of relationship brings to the surface – to our awareness – the areas where we need to grow.
Relationship with another person shows us who we are – both who we have become in our maturation process but also the parts of ourselves that are hidden and need validation and integration.
We have got it all wrong in how we currently think about relationships. We approach them expecting our partner to complete us – but the task is actually to complete ourselves.
Our partners simple show us, in relationship with them, what we need to unearth in order to complete ourselves. They are like a mirror.
And that’s why the relationships we find ourselves in are perfect. Each one reveals something we need to know and embrace about ourselves. I have never, in my 20 years of working with people, met anyone who was in a relationship where there was no major lesson to learn about themselves.
Each relationship provides an opportunity for us to grow and become more conscious; and, as we do so, we become better able to relate fully and to enjoy our relationships. And then they become closer to that ‘perfect’ that we might have imagined.
The ten steps in my book give you the information you need to create a deeply fulfilling relationship that lasts. They show you how to make your relationship work. The understanding you’ll gain of how the relationship process works is something you’ll be able to use for the rest of your life, in all your relationships.