Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Strong Relationship - The Five Requirements For Keeping a Relationship Growing Strong

Everyone is familiar with the dangers of "growing apart." Two people who were once inseparable gradually lose their affinity. Their desires differ; even their values may be at odds. They no longer see eye-to-eye. Sadly, even when they continue to be fond of each other, their ability to share closely and to understand each other deeply is gone.

The only sure prevention for growing apart is growing together. To law of successfully grow together, there are five pairs of qualities we need to combine. We must be

1. Invested AND Loving

2. Towards AND Sensitive

3. Open/Appreciative AND Adaptive to Feedback

4. Aware AND Patient

5. Self-Supportive AND Supportive of the Other

Oftentimes, one of the qualities in each pair is emphasized over the other; sometimes, the two qualities even appear to conflict. But to insure that the relationship will thrive, both must be maintained in balance. You'll understand why when we look at the pairs in detail.

1. Invested AND Loving

Why WOULDN'T being invested and loving always go together? To be invested is to care, and caring and loving certainly belong together. Love relationships depend on:

1. Caring a great deal in the first place (because starting a relationship otherwise would be tragic), and

2. Continuing to care from then on (because ceasing to care at any point excessively erodes the quality of intimacy).

Continued caring -- that is, continued personal investment -- is essential to the health of intimacies of all kinds. Continued caring is required for constancy, and reasonable constancy is a MUST for relationship harmony.

Yet constancy in caring is not a foregone conclusion in relationships. Why not? When we see caring as a personal investment, one that contains an element of self-interest, suddenly it is clear that caring and loving CAN become, for all intents and purposes, OPPOSITES. Certainly, love is the opposite of self-interest.

Our constancy is tested anytime our desires are frustrated in our relationships (we are not getting our way or getting what we want in some matter). For example, what happens when we care about someone but the way they feel about us is NOT how we would want them to feel? At such times, we are tempted to give up. We justify giving up by telling ourselves, "I have too much on it to handle it well." "I need to not care, or to care LESS, because I care too much." So we strategically reduce caring to reduce the resentment, anger, and pain of being disappointed. But then we tend to become UNtowards, and UNloving, which will downgrade the quality of the relationship.

Obviously, reducing our caring is a self-protective decision we make because we don't WANT to suffer that situation. So when people ask, "How CAN I care about something when I'm not getting what I want?," the answer might be, "You may feel that you can't care about something when you're not getting what you want, but quite possibly, you are ABLE to care, but you are just not WILLING."

There's no avoiding this conclusion: for relationship law of success, the starting point called CARING must be joined with the willingness to CONTINUE caring -- EVEN WHEN we do not get our way. And, for intimacy to work, CARING -- in the sense of being invested and involved -- MUST be held as compatible with LOVING, or staying towards -- not mutually exclusive.

In relationship, one simply MUST be willing to "have a lot on it" AND continue to care. The secret of law of success with this surprisingly challenging pair of qualities is to learn that a strong investment does not have to be selfishly, egotistically held. And this returns us to the real crux of the matter: we must care AND love. So the solution that supports relationship law of success goes like this:

1. Care a lot -- have a high INVESTMENT -- but hold your investment GRACEFULLY rather than EGOTISTICALLY.

2. Bear gracefully the occasional disappointments and frustrations that are experienced in ALL relationships.

3. Continue to CARE.

4. Continue to LOVE.

2. Towards AND Sensitive

Clearly, the reality of caring relates to the disposition of towardsness. In order to be nurturing to others, you must be energetically TOWARDS in relation to them. People can have healthy love relationships ONLY with those they energetically feed. Successful relationship partners consistently nurture one another.

When people think of continuing to care or continuing to be towards, even in the face of obstacles, the first approach is to keep trying -- insensitively. The feeling is, "I care about this, so I am going to keep trying to make this happen no matter what you think." We shut our eyes and run at the wall. Ouch!

To push ahead insensitively is the FIVE CENT solution to the problem. But obviously, that thrifty solution can't work, because insensitive persistence is off-putting. The REAL solution is deeper, and more sophisticated.

Since towardsness without sensitivity is divisive, relationship continuity depends on developing the skill of being SENSITIVE at the same time as being TOWARDS. An essential aspect of this winning towards-plus-sensitive combination is the ability to REMAIN towards even when sensitivity dictates that it is not the right time to directly and mutually share energy. A person who does not remain towards at such times is sure to remain untowards MOST of the time -- which, needless to say, will not work.

Sensitivity helps us feel what is needed, and motivates us to find a way to provide that. When the context demands it, we must exercise the ability to stay energetically connected with our beloved during periods of physical separation. We must give our partner space, without diminishing our psychic support and heartfelt caring. In this way, we gradually discover that we can be towards under ALL conditions

3. Open/Appreciative AND Adaptive to Feedback

A good relationship is alive, not static -- it is a PROCESS OF GROWTH, not a THING. In relationship, we either grow, or else we kill the relationship.

In order to grow, we MUST be open to feedback. And if we are REALLY open to feedback, then we go even farther than TOLERATING feedback; we actually APPRECIATE feedback. The reality of the situation is, we MUST appreciate feedback, and express that appreciation, because otherwise, people are liable to stop giving feedback to us. And if they stop giving feedback to us, then our relationship is in SERIOUS trouble.

However, there is NO USE giving and receiving feedback if it produces no change. The necessary next step is to ADJUST based on the feedback which is received. A person who wishes to succeed in relationship MUST ADJUST.

Since relationship is a dynamic adventure, law of success in that adventure absolutely requires flexibility and adaptation. Growing together happens when people give each other feedback, AND make the appropriate adjustments.

4. Aware AND Patient

No one is perfect. Therefore, knowing how to rightly hold the shortcomings of our intimates is a perennial requirement of right relationship. The ideal balance in this regard is to be aware of their flaws, and also at the same time, to be patient. Let's break this pair of qualities down and look at the contribution of each.

First, love requires us to be aware of flaws. "Wait a minute!" you may think. "People who are truly loving will not let ordinary human imperfections turn them away from their commitment to the people they love. So, to consciously overlook faults is only just, compassionate, and wise." That is true, but on the other hand, think again: to overlook a serious problem is downright foolish. Denial has nothing whatsoever to do with love. Love is both compassionate AND conscious.

Second, love requires patience. In a world where, most of the time, change comes slower than one would like, one MUST be patient. Otherwise, impatience and intolerance will erode goodwill and towards orientation -- the very factors upon which relationship health depends. Likewise, only patience creates a context secure enough for our beloveds to feel safe in making a change.

Also, patience helps us to gracefully bear the frustration and sorrow we may feel from the human frailties and limitations of our loved ones. Without patience, awareness would be intolerable. Therefore, it is necessary to see and deal with the faults of others, and to do so PATIENTLY, over a long period of time, WITHOUT giving up. BOTH together are what relationship requires.

5. Self-Supportive AND Supportive of the Other

Many people think that they can "let themselves go" and still be able to serve their intimates. UNTRUE! Maintaining ONESELF in good shape is ESSENTIAL to maintaining any intimate relationship in good shape as a whole. Think about it: what happens to those who do NOT do what is necessary to keep themselves bright and strong AFTER entering into relationship? They become weak and dull, of course. And what kind of relationship is liable to happen between people who are weak and dull? A weak and dull relationship, of course!

To make good on the basic commitment of being nurturing -- that is, being towards our relationship partners energetically and emotionally -- there are several levels upon which we must be responsible. We must uphold a certain level of consciousness by maintaining positive thoughts, benign intentions, and constructive orientations. We must also engage in right activity to maintain reasonable vital strength. To neglect these responsibilities only reduces our ability to support our beloveds. To meet these responsibilities in order to better care for loved ones requires a commitment to self-culture. And, a LOVE-BASED commitment to self-culture protects us from the limitations of SELFISH motivations for self-work.


Every good quality needs a companion quality to keep it good. For love's sake, it pays to think of these qualities in pairs:

1. Invested AND Loving

2. Towards AND Sensitive

3. Open/Appreciative AND Adaptive to Feedback

4. Aware AND Patient

5. Self-Supportive AND Supportive of the Other

Amadon is the founder of the Living Love Fellowship. Over the last thirty years, he has given personal spiritual direction to hundreds of people, in the context of committed, loving friendship. He seeks to serve each person's true self-expression and intimate relationship with God. He has written numerous articles, many of which can be found at the organization's website, http://www.soulprogress.com/

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