I've been asked countless times about offering good, solid relationship advice; the truth is - there really isn't any. Not unless it’s focused on a specific situation, because relationships are odd and complex. I have asked an assortment of happy couples the secret to longevity and maintaining a healthy relationship - usually the first thing they do is look at each other before they respond. How you interpret that is up to you, however I feel it is a very telling sentiment and if there was any secret, then it perhaps lies in the simplicity of the look before the response – I interpreted this as safety.
Remember when we were young; I’m talking about that naive, shy and innocent version of us. Remember that childlike quality we've tried so hard to shed; when liking someone didn't really make sense and feelings were raw and uninterrupted? Sort of like the first interaction we had with our partner, that excitement and attraction that blossomed into a relationship. I reckon it’s this childlike quality that we need to maintain; the vulnerability.
When facing dilemmas and during moments of strife, we should strip the focus back to those basics, the entire reason that brought two individuals together; the reasons why it works. I get that this approach to relationships is blurred by pressures that may or may not have existed when it all started, but do think back to moments of bliss. The simplicity of the relationship at the very beginning is what tends to surface during the happiest moments. It’s a connection between vulnerability and safety. What was it about the other half that allowed us to feel safe enough to be vulnerable to begin with? It’s very important to understand.
Also, how often do we reminisce? How often do we step back from difficulties and remember the easy stuff to set things back into motion? When faced with relationship dilemmas we often overlook the roots and sometimes allow ourselves to be controlled by outside forces. We end up emotionally closing ourselves off, build a defense and guard ourselves from the very person we opened up to. That’s when the ‘trust’ begins to diminish, when the ‘changes’ seem more evident and the ‘struggles’ set in – because we’re not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.
Being vulnerable causes us to be completely honest and to be read very easily. We have to grow up in so many ways already. As adults, we have to let the lessons we've learned guide us to avoid vulnerable situations. The best thing, I think, about being in a relationship is to feel safe enough to do the exact opposite; after all it’s how it all started in the first place.
“I trust her”, “she has always been there for me”, “we don’t go to bed angry” and “We give each other space”. Whatever the response I received, you could always tell that they got the fundamentals right, allowing each other to be vulnerable and safe, keeping the newness of the relationship alive and continue to discover and understand the person that they're with.