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The key to a happy successful relationship is…

For as long as I can remember, it has always taken two to tango. That is true when it comes to dancing and in relationships-romantic or non-romantic. Without mutual respect and commitment to the same goal, the steps of the dance become sloppy.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough for one partner to be fully committed. Both partners need to give 100% to have harmony and flow. But it’s extremely rare for both partners to agree upon this commitment of giving their all to each other. Most of the time, there are misunderstandings of each partner’s expectations for one another.

One partner may think they are giving their all, but their partner may feel like they are only meeting them half way, maybe more, maybe less. Truth be told, it doesn’t matter which end of the spectrum you fall on, higher or lower, if there are misunderstandings about what YOUR expectations are and what your partner is giving you, it’s time to level up your self-love.

People like to throw around a lot of keys to successful relationships. You know what I mean, “The key to a successful happy relationship is communication!” or “The key to having a perfect relationship is happy wife, happy life.” While there are plenty of bronze keys that can unlock some doors to a happy relationship, there is only one golden master key that can withstand the test of time, and that is self-love.

Self-love never fails. Self-love is the fuel that inspires and motivates you to take action based on what’s best for you. Practicing self-love, as an individual and in a relationship, empowers you to make space to identify your needs and wants. Self-love also encourages you to create boundaries for yourself and others when someone crosses the line.

Self-love allows you to do this with compassion and kindness, towards yourself and your partner. Too often I see women feel the need to harbor their feelings of disappointment and frustration from their partner until they burst, thinking that their intense fury will inspire their partner to make drastic changes. But life isn’t a romantic comedy. Your intense emotional outburst will most likely back fire and develop deeper layers of misunderstanding between you and your partner.

Taking the time to reflect on what expectations you have for your partner, without judgement or worrying about what anyone will think of your personal needs & wants, is the first self-loving step I encourage every woman to take. Make a list of your expectations and categorize them by level of priority. I personally love to work through my reflections by tapping into my creative and organizational side, with color coding and sketches. For expectations that I am flexible with are labeled as: green, with expectations that are circumstantial: yellow, and expectations that I am firm with: red.

P.S color coordinating and or sketches are not necessary, but allowing yourself to reflect in a genuine authentic manner, only elevate your relationship with yourself.

Once you know your expectations, allow the nurturing power of self-love to guide you to communicating your expectations to your partner. This looks different for everyone. Maybe for you it’s a sit down conversation with pre-made bullet points guiding the conversation. Maybe it’s a casual walk through your neighborhood with hot chocolate, just speaking from the heart, or maybe it’s neither and when your partner gets too close to crossing a line of your expectations, you immediately address the situation. As long as your approach feels authentic and advocates your expectations, you can’t go wrong.

Things go wrong when you ignore your expectations and continue to allow your partner to disappoint you time after time without addressing the elephant in the room. Accepting lack of respect for your expectations because you don’t think you can do any better, because you already invested so much time into the relationship, or because you want to move toward next chapters of your life (marriage, house, kids, etc.) are all forms of settling. Self-loving women don’t settle. YOU don’t settle. You are worthy of incredible love from yourself and from your partner.

While I note the importance of not settling, it is important to be patient with your partner as you both navigate the circumstances of each others expectations. It does take time to truly grasp the logistics of expectations and circumstances can get complicated, especially when other people become involved, but as as long as your partner and you are trying, then love will prevail.

So what does trying look like in a healthy loving relationship?

Trying for you means you are advocating for your wants and needs and address your partner when your expectations are falling flat. You also support your partner having the same process (remember it takes two to tango!). Trying for your partner means they listen to your expectations, communicate any confusion or concern, and actively shifts their actions to meet your expectations, in honor or what’s best for you and your relationship together (and vice versus).

Trying does not mean change happens overnight. There will certainly be ups and downs as you both navigate finding steady footing with each others expectations. When misunderstandings fester, ground yourselves, lean into your love for yourselves as individuals and as a team.

My husband and I have been together for nearly a decade and in my experience, holding love for myself and my husband has always guided us both through every obstacle we’ve encountered. Love will always steer you right, but self-love needs no direction. Follow it’s calling.

Xoxo,

Elena

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