4 Keys to a Successful Partnership with the One You Love
A Lasting, Fulfilling, Relationship – The “Dynamic of Stay”: 4 Keys to a Successful Partnership with the One You Love
Dr. Lisa Christiansen
It is currently my honest belief that more people in the world are mystified regarding how to find – and keep love – than how to find and keep money. There was a time in my life I believed the opposite to be true. There was a day when I believed that “money” and “wealth” was the prevalent concern in the minds of most. I now believe I was wrong.
Every day, the majority of questions I get – and hear – revolve around what constitutes “true love” and what creates the “Dynamic of Stay” in a relationship. The “Dynamic of Stay” I am referring to here is the study of what makes some couples stay together, no matter what obstacles and issues they might face, versus others who go their separate ways when faced with even minor crisis.
Before I begin to delve into the answer to this question, first, let us clarify that in order for the “Dynamic of Stay” to even be applicable, we have to be discussing a “good” relationship. In other words, a relationship that is fundamentally sound and where there are not major issues such as:
Abuse (mental or physical) directed to the partner and/or children
Substance dependency that is not actively being addressed by the dependent individual
Repeated, blatant, and unrepentant infidelity
Now, I am not saying any of the above scenarios is always and absolutely “hopeless” either. What I am saying, is that if any of the above apply to your relationship, I strongly encourage you to find a professional you can trust with whom to discuss your particular situation because there are things that need to be addressed and “fixed” before the 4 Keys I am going to discuss below will be applicable for you.
Okay, with that out of the way, what creates the “Dynamic of Stay” in our love relationships? It’s really very simple. Throughout time, the greatest teachers have told us the answers many times over. Maybe we didn’t pay attention. Maybe we just didn’t want to hear the answers or we weren’t ready. Regardless, we have always had these keys at our disposal. We just needed to open our eyes, open our ears, and open – and prepare – our heart to receive the answers and then do what we needed to do to make them work in our lives.
The crux – or main point – to achieving this dynamic with your partner is understanding who – and what – takes priority in your lives and in what order. Additionally, both partners must be committed to understanding and fulfilling the necessary strategies to create the “Dynamic of Stay” as well. Thus, the ideal time to discuss these keys is before making the decision to partner forever with someone. However, it is never too late. Even in a struggling partnership or marriage, if both partners are really vested in making it work, discussing these keys – and agreeing to practice them and enact them in your lives from this point forward – could just be the glue you need to make it through whatever storm you are facing.
The simple fact is: Those who get the “Dynamic of Stay” right very seldom “give up” on their partner or relationship and go on to live long, fulfilling, lives together. Those who get it wrong very often end up leaving and go on to repeat the cycle of finding love and then losing it over and over.
Key #1 – God First
I know some of you reading this might not agree with me and that’s okay. I realize there are exceptions to this principle but they are just that – “exceptions” – and this has been proven over and over. Just like “winning the lottery” is sometimes the exception to the “equal value; equal exchange” principle. How many people really want to leave their relationships in the hands of “lottery-type” odds? Yeah, not me either.
Studies have shown that the majority of couples who “last” despite what life throws at them – those who “stay” – routinely credit God for being the focal point in their relationship. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are in church every time the doors are open. This doesn’t even mean that their God is the same as your God or my God. What it does mean is that they have a Supreme Being they feel accountable to and that accountability holds them in check throughout most – and in every area – of their lives. As such, their belief in “God” dictates how they think and behave, not only personally but also in their relationship with others. They also often feel that God has been faithful in his commitment to them and it is their responsibility to be faithful to their commitment to their partner in return. You know the saying “What Would Jesus Do? (WWJD)” I believe this became so popular because people with a strong faith do often ask themselves when faced with a tough decision, “What Would Jesus Do?” or “What Would God Do?” Thus, this usually results in a greater compassion and understanding for their partner. Instead of seeking to stay in anger and blame, they seek to forgive. Instead of seeking an “out”, they seek something – anything – to make them stay “in”.
Key #2 – Your “We” Second
We are taught from the time we are little, often inadvertently and subconsciously, to look out for #1 – ourselves. Over and over we hear expressions like, “If you don’t look out for yourself, no one else will.” Or “No one else is responsible for your happiness but you.”
Right now even, many of you are likely thinking, “Yes…what is wrong with that? It’s the truth, right?”
The answer is “Yes,” but also, “No.”
When we are growing up and learning and absorbing and becoming our “adult self”, these statements do have merit. When it is “just us”, we need to learn to put ourselves first. We need to learn to accept responsibility for our mental well-being, happiness, and success so that we can become independent, self-driven, productive, human beings.
However, when we partner “for life”, a shift is supposed to happen. When you agree to share your life with someone through your marriage vows, you are theoretically becoming “one”. This is what the Bible teaches. This is what Universal Law teaches. If you are one, decisions should be made and actions should be taken, from that position as “one”. There is no more, “What is best for me?” but rather, “What is best for us?” There is no more “I have to make myself happy,” but rather, “What will make us happy?”
If you are tempted to doubt this right now, I will step out on a limb and say that until you believe this to be true, your chances for a lifelong union are going to be slim. If your relationship lasts forever – if it demonstrates the “Dynamic of Stay”, you will be the exception.
Think about it this way…
Did you ever play with colored clay or play dough when you were a kid? Imagine you are red and your partner is purple. Separate, you are these bright, brilliant, colors. Now, imagine you are blended together. When this happens to colored clay, you can no longer call what is created “purple” or “red”. It is something totally new. Can you ever split this clay back up to be “red” or “purple” alone? No, it will always be this new “color” or “blend of colors”.
Now, of course, the colored clay had no “choice” in the matter. But if both parties in a relationship imagine their union as this permanent blending of colors – before the union ever takes place – you might go into that union with a more permanent mindset. Then, if you make decisions in your relationship, in your life together, with the understanding that you can’t ever be split apart – or that if you are, you are going to be messy and very much unlike your original self – it will affect every single one of those decisions. Just this one simple mindset change on behalf of both parties – hopefully before, but even after – a lifelong love partnership is ever entered into, will totally change the place from which choices are made throughout that relationship. And if choices are made with the idea of “Will this keep us – or even bring us closer – together?” instead of “Will this tear us apart?”, the “Dynamic of Stay” is much more inevitable.
Key #3 – Your Children Third
Whether they are yours, his/hers, or someone else’s altogether – children in a “good” relationship (see above for definition) should always come behind God and behind the “we”. Unless we are discussing a situation where children are in mental or physical danger, their happiness and well-being should not ever be considered above that of your spouse/partner. Before this upsets some of you, let me explain…
The reason for this is short and sweet. When partners allow themselves to be torn apart or divided by the wants, whims, and desires of their children, they have lost sight of Key #2 – Focus on the “We”. This is not to say that loving and devoted couples will never disagree on the best decisions to make or actions to take regarding their children. It is to say you don’t do that in front of the children. And you don’t ever let it divide you to the point where you have lost sight of the importance of the “we” of the two of you. Thus, you make decisions about your children in private and then when those decisions are agreed upon, you present them as a united front and support one another in those decisions fully. Furthermore, you don’t allow yourselves to get played against the other or to be persuaded to take an opposite stand or action than that which you agreed upon together.
Interestingly, little children (and even teens and young adults) see their parents or guardians with whom they live and/or are being raised as “one” anyway. When they are able to tear that apart (and they will try because they are kids – not fully mature yet – and as such, want to try to “get their way), it usually makes them more unhappy than happy. Often, they don’t even know why. They just know that something doesn’t feel right. Believe it or not, there is little that is more beneficial to the well-being and long-term success of a child than having parents who stand together as one single unit that will not be turned upon itself or split apart. This is also the greatest thing you can do to ensure the future success of their relationships because there is no greater teacher of Key #2 and Key #3 than seeing it in action over and over when you are little yourself.
Key #4 – Self Last
This is simple. Once you have entered into a lifelong union and made that commitment to your partner “forever”, “for richer or poorer, sickness and in health”, you live it. You do it. Even when it doesn’t “feel good” or you don’t “feel like it”. Even when something better seems to come along or tempts you off your path. You think, “What would God do?” or “What is best for the ‘we’ that is ‘us’?” or “How would this affect my children?” You stop thinking about what you want right now or what feels good at this moment and you think about the promises you have made and the priorities you agreed to when you made those promises. And then you do it. And you keep doing it. And pretty soon, the questions and temptations stop coming because you don’t let them in. Or maybe they don’t stop coming but you stop noticing. That is when the “Dynamic of Stay” has become a part of your life and the bond that will hold your love relationship together forever.
All a woman wants is to know that you are going to be there no matter what. And no matter what means no matter what.
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