Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The First and Most Important Step in Having or Saving a Great Relationship and Marriage

The first step in any great relationship of any kind is being well matched. If you are not well-matched, you may be able to survive together, but the odds of being happy together are slim to none; if you are, you’ll find you can conquer about anything! Unfortunately, some couples live in misery for years without ever asking this most fundamental and necessary of all relationship questions! This is one of those “must read” issues, so dig in…

Today I want to talk more about something that seems to be so logical that it would be self-evident to all, but obviously is not practiced by many, the first step in having a great relationship. We touched on this in a previous issue of this newsletter, concerning what to do if your wife is with another man, at http://forum.makingherhappy.com/showthread.php/274-What-Do-You-Do-When-She-Leaves-Your-Relationship-or-Marriage-for-Another-Man-Can-You-Get-Her-Back-Should-You, and you should read that issue if you missed it. I try to go through this a couple of times each year because there are so many new people coming in and everyone needs to see it.

Those of you who have been banging your head against the wall after receiving advice from someone claiming that “any relationship can be saved regardless of circumstances” will want to pay particular attention to this issue, because this edition may be addressing your biggest relationship or marriage problem. And if people are going so far as to call you a “quitter,” or “loser,” because you’re tired of fighting a losing battle for a lost cause and can’t see how it can end well for anyone, you’ll not only want to read this, but share it with them, to at least get them off your back and possibly even help them get in touch with reality.

Men and women both get married for a lot of really bad reasons. If you’d like to participate in a quick study of them, I have a poll up on our forum, http://forum.makingherhappy.com/showthread.php/180-Why-Didn-t-You-Say-Something, asking why men got married the first time. Stop by and vote, check the tallies, and prowl around a bit, because there’s a lot of good information and friendship to be had and you’re missing it all. Registration is free and anonymous (you can actually read everything as an anonymous guest but must register to post or participate in polls), your information is never shared, and there are a hundred other good reasons to join us that I don’t have time or space to list right now, so just do it and you’ll see what I mean. Now prepare yourself to receive a universal truth:

That first and most crucial step in any great relationship or marriage is being well-matched to your partner.

Yes, some of you are right now saying, “Duh!” but others are saying, “but can’t you learn to love someone?” Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Here are the facts and truth of the matter:

When you first meet someone, the emotion that pulls you together is either attraction or need (or in rare cases lust, but lust is seldom responsible for keeping two people together long enough to get married, unless they’re incredibly reckless or needy), which are both independent of love; indeed, need is in fact mutually exclusive of love – you cannot love someone that you need, because (in a nutshell) need actually makes you resent them as the object of your dependence, and fear their power to leave and remove the thing you need from your life. Fear is a partner to hatred, not love.

Love can only come later, when you’ve had a chance to discover your compatibility, which is the basis of love. “Love at first sight” is poetic nonsense, an allusion to attraction, not love. Attraction can happen at first sight, as can need and lust, but not love, because you can’t just see someone, know that compatibility exists in that instant, and be motivated to love. And this lack of understanding has ruined more lives than you can imagine.

This in itself is a complex and difficult concept for most to embrace, and if you find yourself wanting to argue with it, see Lesson 3 in my free “Break-Up Busting 101” report, which you can download at http://forum.makingherhappy.com/showthread.php/144-Free-Reports!, entitled “Love, Need, Lust and Attraction – Do YOU Know the Difference?” or skip to the similarly-titled section of “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage” and gain an effective understanding, because it is both factual and crucial. We’ll address need first because it’s easier to see, then we’ll get into attraction and love.

Need never develops into love, and sooner or later, the other person (unless they are hopelessly codependent) gets tired of neediness and moves on. There is nothing you can do about this, especially telling them that you need them and can’t live without them. That is the very drain, pressure, and stress that they are trying to get away from, and your fight for independence is going to take too long for them to wait around for you to complete it, if you can; most truly needy people, those who would be called parasites because they take from their partners without giving anything significant in return, spend their life moving from host to host because it’s just easier for them to find a new host than to evolve into a non-needy person of independence.

In short, if the person you are with is telling you it’s over because you are too needy, take the hint and grow up, become self-supporting and independent, and you’ll find that people enjoy being around you for the long term. Make no mistake, fighting this break-up is only going to make things worse, because you are severely mismatched; a chronically needy person cannot coexist with an independent person who resents neediness. You got away with it for a while because you were somehow charming, physically attractive, wealthy, funny, or something else that was temporarily endearing, but now that the cat is out of the bag and it’s known that you’re a needy wuss, you have two options: find another host or evolve so that you can enjoy another’s company instead of needing it. It’s harsh, but it’s really just that simple.

Someone asked once why I didn’t talk about a case wherein the woman is the needy one. I didn’t because I didn’t realize how common it might be for a man to be trying to save a relationship with such a woman, wherein he is independent and she is the needy one. But lo and behold, I have run across them, and the “cognitive dissonance” within the men is overwhelming. They fight between wanting to get away from the stress of being stuck with a needy person and wanting to try to “salvage their investment in their marriage.” The truth is that for many, their protector circuit comes alive and they are emotionally driven rather than making a conscious choice, even to the point of self-destruction.

The only hope for you if you are in this case is to help your wife understand that what she is feeling is need, not love, and that she needs to develop some self-esteem before she can love either of you. Try to help her develop some self-esteem, and if she insists on living in denial (“Why can’t you just love me as I am?” and such questions are infallible evidence of such a problem, namely entitlement mentality) in spite of your efforts to get her to acknowledge her problem, seek counseling, etc., you have two choices: Get out or go down with a sinking ship. You can either lead her out of it, put up with it, or leave, and you won’t be able to lead her as long as she’s in denial. ‘Nuff said.

Now, on to the more complex case, where attraction was the reason for you to come together. Once attraction has brought you together and you’ve had your initial episode of “physical exploration and gratification,” there should be a period where you get to know each other, find that you have common interests, philosophies, values, etc., and come to value each other – love develops. This is the source of the friendship, respect, loyalty and commitment required for long-term relationships to survive, while attraction is where all the fun, excitement, and energy come from. There are several possible scenarios that arise from the various permutations of these two emotions between two people.

The most obvious two are having both love and attraction, in which case you can be together happily and feel like you’re in a never-ending honeymoon (the ideal situation, right? And it can be sustained for a lifetime if you are aware of its requirements and constituents and hold out to find and have it, and we’ll get back to this in a few minutes), and having neither love nor attraction, after events have eliminated them both, in which case the relationship must end, because even though lost attraction can usually be easily rekindled, regaining lost love just doesn’t happen. Peoples’ values and personalities just don’t naturally move radically away from some baseline and then go back there.

The other two are a bit trickier to deal with. We’ll talk about the harder of the two first, the case in which love is lost but attraction survives. It is common for people under tremendous pressure that they ultimately cannot handle, and they degrade themselves somehow. They could then become a loser, maybe a criminal or spouse abuser, and/or possibly a substance abuser, but they still project the personality traits that trip attraction triggers.

This would typically be a marriage that started out like a storybook romance, but currently one spouse is drunk or high all the time after losing a loved one, a business, or career, etc. They have lost their self-love, self-esteem, and self-respect, but have still managed to somehow remain fun, funny, authoritative, somehow sexy, or intriguing, or something that holds the other spouse’s attention. You can’t base a great relationship on nothing but sex, jokes, and parties, and you can’t “fix” somebody else, especially someone who won’t admit there is a problem and doesn’t want to let go of a problem or fix anything.

Your only choices with such a relationship are to either get this person some professional help so that they can be redeemed or move on. Again, it sounds harsh, but statistically and historically, this is reality, and if they won’t get help, moving on is your only option; having once loved someone is no reason to go down with a sinking ship that refuses to be repaired. That’s martyrdom, the ultimate form of sacrifice, the trading of valuable life for nothing of value at all, not love.

The last possibility is the one I like dealing with the most, where love is still alive and healthy, but attraction has failed; you’re in the “friends column” but nobody else has created attraction in your partner and she still loves you, but is bored and vulnerable. In the dating world, lost attraction nearly always means that you blew it and you just move on immediately, because the other person already has; the window for creating attraction opens once, and very briefly, period. However, when you’ve been together for long enough for attraction to fade, you develop a vested interest in keeping the relationship alive. You acquire memories, security, a mortgage and property, and usually children, which motivate you to try to work things out. Hence, the window that closes in seconds in the dating world can be open for months or even years when you're committed.

Men are generally pretty easy when it comes to attraction. We’re attracted mostly to physical appearance and seductive talk and actions, and if attraction is lost and must be recreated, women seldom have to do any more than correct whatever major issues have developed with their appearance and attitude, if any, and act like a woman; self-respect and self-love in a woman are among the sexiest things a man can behold, and they cause the things that trip men’s attraction triggers, such as being height-weight proportional, good grooming and posture, smiling, having fun, etc. Drama and depression are big turn-offs to men, but both tend to disappear when a woman feels attraction for a man.

Women aren’t so easy though. Physical appearance barely makes them curious (fantasizing about a man is a far cry from being interested in him, guys, and if you assume interest and spoil the fantasy, they can get really angry!), and then only for a short while, and that curiosity can be destroyed in an instant by any non-alpha male behavior, such as deferring decisions, approval-seeking or trying to impress them, being lazy or boring, etc.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible, or even difficult, to rekindle attraction. Indeed, if you have the right information to work from, it has been proven to happen in less than a week to a sufficient degree to halt the signing of divorce papers already prepared and move an estranged spouse back into the family home. This is the failing relationship that you fight for, even if there has been an affair, because love is not so easy to find and to earn, and a physical affair – which virtually always happens out of boredom and means absolutely nothing unless you choose to assign meaning to it – is no reason whatsoever to abandon a proven love.

Yes, I said that, and I’m about to say it another way: a one-time physical “fling” that happened out of boredom is not proof of lost love, nor a sign of disloyalty or disrespect. It’s an unfortunate and very STUPID thing that happens when two people can’t or just don’t effectively communicate with each other and allow their attraction to fade, nothing more, and nothing less. I’m not saying that the person who does it is stupid; I’m saying that it’s ridiculous that people will let their problems go to the point that this happens before realizing there is a problem and trying to fix it.

By extension, the horrific things that can happen during mid-life crisis aren’t necessarily an indication of lost love either; mid-life crisis causes a sustained altered state of consciousness in which normal responses to emotional stimuli are exaggerated and abnormal responses routinely supplant the normal. There are several gentlemen on our forum, http://forum.makingherhappy.com, right now who are dealing with this nightmare, and even if you never have to live through it, reading about it can teach you a lot of useful things, possibly including how to prevent it, since stagnation and boredom appear to be a trigger.

If you’re sitting on the couch with a beer and the TV remote every night while your partner is doing something else, and you’re part of that statistic that says that the average mature couple (mature meaning having been together, married or not, for two years or more) has sex six times per year (yes, that’s once every two months on average), trouble’s not just coming, it’s HERE!

And, there’s no sense waiting for it to get that bad before taking action; a good relationship is far easier to maintain than it is to fix if it gets broken, right? What you need is a plan for evaluating and then fixing and/or maintaining it and the knowledge required to empower you to do that. Luckily for you, it’s already been figured out, tested, proven, and published, and it can be yours in the next few minutes.

It’s called “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage,” you can download it right now at http://www.makingherhappy.com, and it’s working for everyone who’s used it. Don’t make things rougher on yourself than they have to be by waiting. Do it now, and do it for keeps, because life is too short to do it any other way.

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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