Leading authority on human behaviour, speaker and author of the book – The Heart of Love, Dr John Demartini, explains how to stabilise your relationship and maintain balanced love.
The biggest causes of relationship breakdowns are from idealisms and romantic fantasies.
We tend to search for the perfect relationship, but as long as we set unrealistic ideals and project them onto our partners, we will live in quiet desperation, feel resentment, emotional swings and be constantly disappointed when they don’t live up to our unrealistic expectations.
These ideals often come from Hollywood movies and bedtime stories that end in “happily ever after". You imagine everyone around you is experiencing the fairytale, but you.
Women tend to fantasise about the knight in shining armour or Brad Pitt. When they end up with a regular guy with a beer belly, they subconsciously punish him for it because he doesn’t match their fantasy.
Men have their fantasies too. Their ideal women need to look like the centre spread of Playboy. However, going after this dream will cost him love if he stays and money if he goes.
The most successful relationships are ones that are balanced with equal amounts of support and challenge.
We need this equilibrium of positive and negative in order to grow and evolve. It is therefore crucial to understand that we all own and display all personality traits such as generous and mean, kind and cruel, considerate and inconsiderate etc., in equal quantities.
Too often we expect our partner to be a one-sided being – only kind and considerate, but this will only lead to frustration, disappointment and withdrawal when your partner inevitably expresses the other side.
It is wiser to ask the question: “do I have the trait for which I am judging my partner?” and “how does my partner expressing that trait benefit me in my day-to-day life?”
As soon as you break through the limitation of your unrealistic expectation and perception, you will assist your relationship to grow in maturity and mutual appreciation.
Identifying and understanding your and your partner's values
Understanding values is essential for dissolving conflict and achieving a balanced and loving relationship.
When I talk about values I don’t mean classical socialized morals and ethics, I’m referring to the things you hold most valuable in your life. Everybody lives according to a unique hierarchy of values, which are generally determined by the actions we take.
Values are like fingerprints. No two people have the same set of values and none are right or wrong.
What’s highest on your hierarchy of values is where you tend to dominate; you are most focused, knowledgeable, confident, energetic, interested and ordered.
What is lower down on your list of values is where you are undisciplined, disinterested, unfocused and you tend to procrastinate.
For an understanding relationship can you see how imperative it is to identify yours and your partner’s values? It will assist both of you to communicate more effectively and feel a deeper connection with each other.
It is important to understand that when your partner is supporting your highest values you will label them “good” or “terrific” and you will feel affection for them. When your partner is challenging your highest values, you will label them “bad” or “terrible” and you will feel resentment towards them.
Can you, therefore, see why relationships are continually oscillating between peace and war – both of which make up true and complete love?
Spouses only appear to dominate over each other, but in reality, we are stronger and dominant in our highest values and weaker and submissive in our lowest values.
For example, if a man’s highest values are business and money, he will dominate in those areas. If a woman’s highest values are children and the home, she will dominate in those areas.
This can be a balanced situation and lead to a lasting relationship if the resulting dynamics are well understood.
Careless, careful or caring
There are three types of relationships, but one of them is more stable.
You have the careless relationship where you project and focus on your own values without considering your partner’s.
Then there is the careful relationship. This is when you think in terms of your partner's values without considering your own. This relationship often feels like you are walking on eggshells.
The third type is the caring relationship and is one where you communicate your values equally in terms of your partner’s values.
Lastly, when you set realistic expectations according to true values and you learn to love and appreciate who you’re with, they turn into who you love.