Monica Cost, Chief Brand Strategist
*I believe that we, as humans, are meant to be in relation. We’re supposed to have relationships, romantic and platonic and they are supposed to be healthy. But the truth is, no one ever teaches us how to do that. There are no relationship courses in school that show us how to figure out our value system and then to link up with people who have similar or complimentary values.
We are; however, taught to be in relation with people who are nice to us, who are attractive, who have material wealth and more niceties. These things are taught through our societal fabric. They are the unwritten expecations. The problem with this process is that does not take into account what happens after these things become routine. It’s great if someone is nice to you, but what if they don’t value education the way you do? It’s awesome if someone shows you high levels of respect, but what if they don’t value independence the way you do? It’s sweet if they buy you gifts just because, but what if they don’t value communication the way you do?
Well if they don’t value what you value or have complimentary ones, then it gets really tough. In my opinion, everyone should value communication. Why, you ask? Because it is only through communication that we can understand the status of our relationships. When values start to be misaligned, then resentment has an opportunity to creep in. In addition, this is usually what starts the outside conversations about our relationship. We start talking to other people about things only our significant other can answer.
Our high percentage of failing relationships is not just a matter of these new generations (of which I ama member of) ”giving up too easily”, as some would like to suggest. As a matter a fact, I would bet a large sum of money that the previous generations could have used a much different approach to relationships than the one they had. The suck it up and hang in there philosophy left a shlew of unfulfilled people; mostly women, I might add.
In addition to checking in on our relationship status, communication is a phenomenal way to continue the process of understanding ourselves, our ticks and motivations. For instance, if my husband/boyfriend (there isn’t one at the moment, but if there were) were to say to me, “I would like to quit my job and start a new company” and I begin to give him all the reasons why we can’t do this right now and why it’s irresponsible for him to think of doing such a thing, well there begins the breakdown. We would make out much better if I took time to understand they value that he is trying to satisfy for himself. I know I have to give one for the men also, to balance this out (smile). If a woman tells her husband/boyfriend that she wants to go on a missions trip to India for a month and he begins ranting about the time it’ll take away from the family, the stress it will put on him to keep it all together while shes gone and how irresponsible it would be of her to do such a thing, then he too runs the risk of alienating her. A better solution (in my humble opinion) would be to ask as many questions as necessary to understand what value she’s attempting to satisfy.
I believe “romantic relationship readiness” is about self discovery first, finding a friend who value system is in line with your own and thirdly opening the doors of communication from the start of the relationship. Here are a few other tips I believe would change the romantic relationship process as we know it.
1. Learn about yourself. And I mean really learn. Why do you get upset when certain things happen? Why are you insecure about other things? Why do you get offended when you do? How come a certain type of person annoys you? Why do you cling to your romantic interests to tightly? Who has had the greatest influence on you and why? And so on and so on and so on.
2. Tie your learnings about yourself to specific values so that you can confidently name the reasons for your emotions. This process is outlined in my book “The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!: How to live an authentic life with awesome sensations”. (Sorry for the self promo, but the book is actually appropriate for this subject)
3. Look for a friend you respect, whose value system is aligned first and romantic interest second. Trust me, when the dust settles, it’s the related values that make a person loveable even when you don’t necessarily like them, at times.
4. Give your “intended” friend permission to communicate with you open and respectfully about where they are and how things are affecting him or her. There is nothing like someone saying that you can tell them the truth and then they totally freak on you when you do. Great way to distance yourself.
5. Commit to respecting the communication process and always listen and speak from a place of understanding. Understanding is critical in all that we do in life. If you began a new job without anyone communicating the expectations, deliverables and required process, you would fail miserably. Relationships are no different.
I believe we can turn this thing around. We need not look to President Obama and First Lady Michelle or any other notable couples and wish. First, we have no idea what they have. I do believe that we can actually find fulfillment in our romantic relationships and that doesn’t mean they will all last forever. It means that we will not leave behind or collect so much baggage along our journey. This will leave our emotional palette clear to enjoy all that life has to offer.
Monica Cost is Chief Brand Strategist and Founder of Evidently Assured, an authentic brand strategy firm and the Live Your Truth Experience (L.Y.T.E.). She is the Author of the new life changing book on living an authentic life called, “The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!: How to live an authentic life with awesome sensations.” Email her at: LiveYourTruth@MonicaCost.com. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost. www.monicacost.com. Live true!