Ever since Jacques and I met, we have placed a lot of emphasis on the importance of communication in relationships. Between us we have witnessed, and were somewhat intimately involved in, 13 marriages; that, I’m sure you will agree, is a huge learning field to get your information from with regard to making a relationship work. Let me clarify the number: my only marriage to date, which ended after 12 years, my grandparents, who have been an inspiration to me of what marriage is supposed to be like and the remaining 11 were broken marriages our parents were involved in.
No wonder then, that it has been one of our big questions, quests even, to find out what it takes to make a relationship work. What is the secret ingredient?
I obviously can’t speak for everyone and I fully realize that there is valid reason, even if only a one sided one, for any marriage or relationship to come to an end. We all have our share of circumstances and emotions to deal with; circumstances and emotions which can never really be fully understood by any outsider. I guess we live in a society in which it has just become all too easy to give up; it is rather more acceptable to walk out than it is to stick around and fight for what you want.
Last night we decided to do the chick-flick thing and watch “The Vow” – O My Hat! Waterworks galore!
Now, if you have never seen the movie, do yourself (and your partner) a favor; get the popcorn, settle in for the night and prepare to be moved!
The Vow tells the true story of a young married couple who are involved in a car accident. After waking up from her coma months later, the wife does not remember her husband or even the fact that they are married. Despite being presented with voice messages, photos and even a video of their wedding ceremony, she can’t remember ever having met him. Her memories goes back about four years ago, to a time when she was still living at home, enrolled in Law School and engaged to someone else. It is then up to her husband to make her fall in love with him again and remember why they got married. Now that takes dedication!
Naturally, the movie got me thinking. We are all human and inevitably we all make mistakes. If you want, these mistakes can be categorized and filed and rated and such, to fit into two main groups; either it is forgivable or it is unforgivable. Perhaps we will call them “The 7 Deadly Sins of Relationships”
- Forgetting to by milk – This one is not really something which will destroy your relationship, but if you have a full out row about something as small as this, it is a sure sign that you have some underlying issues. Get to the point and do something about it. You still have time!
- Not pulling your weight around the house – Again, not something that in itself will destroy a relationship, but combine this little monster with underlying stresses of everyday life and soon those stinking socks you keep lying around everywhere will multiply with the toilet seat being left up and, boom, you have disaster!
- Good lies – This, I will admit, is a tough one. Say you are planning a surprise birthday party for your partner. You tell your partner that you are going to visit your aunt on a Saturday afternoon. In actual fact you are going to the bakery to pick up the cake and then to the venue to decorate and get everything ready. While you are going about your business, your aunt innocently pops up at your place for cake and tea. Certain recipe for disaster! In a perfect world with perfect relationships where no-one have ever been hurt and does not harbour any trust issues, it would not be a problem. When you are in a committed relationship however, you have to take into account what your partner’s relationship history is.
- Bad Lies – This one is obvious and it is also where we draw the line between forgivable and unforgivable “sins”. Telling your partner that you are visiting your mother just to go and watch a movie on your own is not cool. Speak up, tell him or her that you want some time to yourself and then go with it. There is never a justifiable reason for lying to your partner; it will only leave them hurt and doubtful of your relationship.
- Flirting – Do I really need to explain this one? Yes the pretty little blond at your work has been giving you the eye and your ego just swells every time she turns the corner. There is no such thing as innocent flirting. Either you are committed to your partner and do all your flirting at home or you are not and you don’t. It really is that simple.
- Cheating – This one is not to be confused with Number 7. Cheating does not necessarily involve having a relationship with someone other than your partner. Cheating, in my books, are defined as anything which steals quality time from your relationship. Addicted to porn? Drinking too much? Spending more times with your buddies than with your partner? These are all things which steal time from your partner and, in effect, steal the life out of your relationship.
- Having an affair – Needles to say, this is the big no-no. Make up your mind: do you want to be with your partner, yes or no. Again, it really is that simple. Either you love him or her enough to want to be there or you don’t. Having an affair is just a cowardly act which speaks of nothing but your spineless character. If you are unhappy and you can’t fix it, walk out the door and go have your affair then. No-one has the right to treat another human being’s emotions as a yo-yo. You are up or you are down; you are in or you are out – you can’t have it both ways.
The big realization that came with the movie, however, is this:
If both of you are 100% committed to making it work, it is never too late to start building new memories. If you truly love each other and you are both truly committed, if you have love and Grace in your relationship, nothing can stop you. Look at your partner and right now make a renewed commitment to each other and let go, and I really do mean LET GO, of the past. With love and Grace there is no room for hatred or grudges, there is no room for any resentment, you have to let it go in order to move on.
Start your relationship afresh. Every second from here on in is the opportunity to build new memories. You owe it to yourselves to make those memories good ones. The choice is entirely yours.
THERE IS NO BETTER TIME THAN RIGHT NOW!