Always choose love: relationship/marriage advice we can’t afford to ignore

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When it comes to relationships, just as we can’t be best friends with everyone, not all couples make a good fit. Some start out with a very lucky foundation as far the falling in love, closeness, connection, balance of similarities vs. differences and the overall dynamic, whereas others struggle from the start. But even those ‘matches made in heaven’ can end up in failure despite their advantage because failure comes down to selfishness, alongside its twin, laziness. It’s brutally simple.

Of course we can’t expect ourselves or anyone else to be perfect. Even in the most magical love stories we will have our big arguments and very rough moments. We are all human. We all make mistakes, have issues, fears, doubts, lesser days and sometimes longer spells when we are challenged by every imaginable difficulty from finances to family pressures to chronic pain to unemployment.

But there is always room to focus in a positive direction if both partners are looking to create positive results for themselves and each other. Especially if they stand on a foundation of deep love and connection. And especially after having learned some hard lessons in a failed marriage as is the case for so many of us in midlife.

Things can get very tough sometimes, but in reality, to make it through the low points, all it takes is willingness and a bit of effort to nurture some optimism and flexibility…to allow change. We all must learn these things and more, and learn them by ‘leaning into discomfort’. Creating happiness, achieving growth, self-knowledge, patience, compassion, healing, as well as mastering so many skills needed to both live and share a life don’t just fall out of the sky.

And how to learn the good things if we don’t practice…if we keep holding on to limiting habits, if we don’t listen to our partners, refuse to open up a bit or do things differently than we have in the past?

I didn’t write the piece I chose to feature in this post, but I decided to use it because it’s very relevant as far as advice goes. It’s an honest voice, one that comes from knowing a deep pain and regret we don’t all have to experience in order to learn and benefit. And although what is written comes from a male perspective, it doesn’t only apply to how men should treat their female partners or to marriage, but to all of us and relationships in general.

It serves as a warning and reminder. We need to be reminded from time to time of what is at stake, of where our focus needs to be, and of how privileged we are if we have the option to choose love. We need to be reminded because we all fall into ruts where we end up overwhelmed, confused, expect the worst, not to mention regress into pessimistic mindsets, and end up risking or destroying the best thing that ever happened to us.

Here is the piece linked from viralnova.com. (A few sentences were edited out, for the full version go to: http://www.viralnova.com/20-marriage-tips/)

20 Marriage Tips Everyone Needs to Know

MARRIAGE ADVICE I WISH I WOULD HAVE HAD:

Obviously, I’m not a relationship expert. But there’s something about my divorce being finalized this week that gives me perspective []…After losing a woman that I loved, and a marriage of almost 16 years, here’s the advice I wish I would have had…

1) Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. [] SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.

2) PROTECT YOUR OWN HEART. Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.

3) FALL IN LOVE OVER and OVER and OVER again. You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else or seal you out completely, and you may never be able to get it back. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.

4) ALWAYS SEE THE BEST in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love, and you know without a doubt that you are the luckiest man on earth to have this woman as your wife.

5) IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO CHANGE OR FIX HER… your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. []

6) TAKE FULL ACCOUNTABILITY for your own emotions: It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.

7) NEVER BLAME your wife If YOU get frustrated or angry at her, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. They are YOUR emotions, and your responsibility. When you feel those feelings take time [] to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them []

8) Allow your woman to JUST BE. When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. [] DON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET. Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.

9) BE SILLY… don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.

10) FILL HER SOUL EVERYDAY… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. [] Make it a priority everyday to make her feel like a queen.

11) BE PRESENT. Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.

12) BE WILLING TO TAKE HER SEXUALLY, to carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. []

13) DON’T BE AN IDIOT…. And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.

14) GIVE HER SPACE… The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. [] She needs that space to renew and get re-centered, and to find herself after she gets lost in serving you, the kids and the world.

15) BE VULNERABLE… you don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fears and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.

16) BE FULLY TRANSPARENT. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, to fully open your heart and let her in when you don’t know if she will like what she finds… Part of that courage is allowing her to love you completely, your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.

17) NEVER STOP GROWING TOGETHER… The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is if you stop working on your relationship. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.

18) DON’T WORRY ABOUT MONEY. Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons strength to win.

19) FORGIVE IMMEDIATELY and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. []

20) ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.

[] Marriage is life, and it will bring ups and downs. Embracing all of the cycles and learning to learn from and love each experience will bring the strength and perspective to keep building, one brick at a time. These are lessons I learned the hard way. These are lessons I learned too late.

If you are reading this and find wisdom in my pain, share it with those young husbands whose hearts are still full of hope, and with those couples you may know who may have forgotten how to love. One of those men may be like I was, and in these hard-earned lessons perhaps something will awaken in him and he will learn to be the man his lady has been waiting for. []

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