It is not always clear on how to sustain and maintain a loving union, there are so many dated paradigms, beliefs, expectations and fears in this part of our life that often, people just settle with an idea of what a loving relationship is instead of trying to create and experience a loving relationship.
There are many ways to be engaged in a loving relationship, there are certain aspects and qualities that need to be in place in order for a loving relationship to be healthy. So below are brief explanations of my thoughts and perspectives on a loving relationship around the idea of honesty, sustenance and maintenance in a relationship. Each topic could be a book on its own!
Let what resonates you encourage and support you, and let what rubs you the wrong way be a moment to consider for yourself why it makes you feel that way. Perhaps it will solidify something that you’ve felt or it may change something that you believed.
No matter what circumstance you may find yourself in, honesty truly is the best policy, especially if you want to be in a relationship that is happy, loving, healthy and lasting. It doesn’t mean you have to share everything that goes on in your mind and heart, as if you must report these personal moments. After all, being honest is not just about the other person, it is about being honest with yourself too.
Too often, individuals will lie to themselves about being happy and stay with their partner because of old ideas of companionship – justifying happiness by: how long you’ve been together, how well someone is taking care of you financially, that you’re moving on to the next “step,” how good they are with other people, how little conflict there is, or even more painful – that there won’t be someone else out there who will love you again.
These reasons do not have a loving foundation to it, they are that layer of icing used to fill in cracked concrete; it will melt and leave a mess eventually or you’ll be out of icing to use. Sugar coating does nobody any good, not the person who is thinking these thoughts, nor the person oblivious to it.
When you are honest, you give yourself and the other person a chance to develop trust, and an opportunity for them to choose to want to overcome obstacles with you; to nurture and grow your relationship and love for one another. For you see, even if one is destined to be together, we all make a conscious choice to be together every second of everyday. For at any moment it could come to an end; from a choice to leave to a tragic accident – the other person could just not be there anymore. Would you want to spend the time you do have together in a lie, or holding thoughts and feelings in? Would it not be worth it to put everything on the line that holds you two together and move through life together embracing all that comes with the person you love?… it is a question for you to answer.
Relationships are a lot of Work
I love hearing this statement, because I used to think it was absolutely true. Now, as I continuously challenge my honesty and loving capabilities, I realize it doesn’t have to be a lot of work. This is where sustaining versus maintaining a relationship comes in. I had recently lived the difference and realized some very important considerations to work and relationships.
In harmony, we operate with our heart and our mind, when we do so we make the best decisions because we are true to our hearts’ desires and our mind helps us execute these wants. The same goes for a relationship, there needs to be the heart and the mind involved. If they are not used in unison, we become imbalanced in our relationship. In extremes, we can either lean too far into our ideas of love, or lean too far into the emotions of love. One is lack lustre, the other overly dramatic. That is when it becomes “a lot of work.”
When you are able to approach the challenges in your relationship with heart in mind, the work required comes with greater ease as you’ll want to put in the effort. You can compare it with your work, you can work with ease when you love what you do and have your heart in it, versus when you don’t.
Below are two hypothetical and extreme situations of how relationships can be divided (in a very black & white manner), and neither scenarios necessarily mean that the people do not love each other. It is just an example to show how to recognize the difference between sustenance and maintenance in a relationship.
Sustaining and Maintaining Love
It is not hard to see when it is out of balance, the passionate lovers who quarrel or are attached at the hips; the practical lovers who see their strengths and weaknesses and learn to co-exist together based on these qualities. One is intoxicating chaos, while the other is clock-work comfort. If we are talking in extremes, the first couple would probably end up apart, knowing they are unhealthy for one another but always longing for the “what ifs.” The latter couple, may ride out life together without many lows, but not many highs either, knowing that they are fulfilling the expectations of a working relationship.
The passion is what sustains us, it is the undeniable force that pushes us to want to be together with someone – this is emphasized in the expression “All that matters is that we love each other.” Yes! This is beautiful, uplifting, inspiring and true! However, it is not the only truth, for there are other things that matter, some which may not be in the relationship, and making life completely about someone else (or the idea of each other) does not mean you will be together in a relationship or that it is healthy and fulfilling. This feeling inside our heart is the initial force/energy that lets us know that this person we want to be with will be worth the obstacles that may arise. And using this force with some practicality can make obstacles feel “easy” because there is a faith that “no matter what” love will conquer.
The practicality is what maintains us, this is what comes after the initial love force engulfs us on this new journey, how to continue to keep the love over time. Because we all change over time, situations change over time, environments change over time – the force of love will change too! Hopefully it will grow! It is important to make time for each other in a busy life, to think of ways to keep the spark alive, and to challenge your relationship to new experiences, because these methods of maintenance keep the heart happy; our sustenance! But to simply do this without the sustenance, often couples just become roommates, or they may feel locked in a commitment that is taking away from life and love – rather than adding to it.
So, for the singularly passionate lovers, create boundaries for yourself so that you both can thrive in your own lives and be able to come together to celebrate each other’s successes and endeavours. So that if a hiccup arises in the relationship it won’t permeate into all aspects of your life, as two lives shared in harmony and unison is what allows everything to flourish together and keeps each other strong when one is feeling down. Systems in place for a successful relationship does not mean it is not passionate or that it is contrived, it just means that other aspects of your life are just as important as your romantic relationship, as it should be! And, that it can all be enjoyed together. You are not one person, you are two people choosing to live a life together.
For the singularly practical lovers, get in touch with your heart feelings for each other, let down some of the boundaries and expectations created by the mind of what a relationship is supposed to operate like (i.e. dating for several years, move in together, get married, have a baby, the end.) and just feel each other’s love. Take a look at the systems in place and re-evaluate on whether it has become micro-management rather than maintenance. Are they there to help your love evolve and grow? Or is it like keeping a plant in a small pot, preventing it from the potential to grow bigger, stronger and more beautiful? Break the routines, even date nights can end up being a routine (i.e. the same sternly enforced Friday 6:30pm dinner and movie before 10pm, because you have to jog at 9:30 am on a Saturday morning), and challenge yourselves to new experiences that can fill your heart with a joy that no planned scenario can give.
Love is to be experienced in new and expansive ways, simply because it can and it is what gives that worth to living and loving.