Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Great Relationship Advice

I was reading over at The Bilerico Project and discovered this wonderful advice column on relationships.

"Sometimes I wonder if something is missing from my relationship. How do I know if I'm in the right place or not?"

~ Just Wondering

Dear J. W.,

Did you know that it's not a good idea to substitute baking powder for baking soda when making chocolate chip cookies?

I learned the hard way; having to endure the most disappointed little cookie monsters imaginable. When faced with flat, dry, broken cookies that even our dog wouldn't eat, my son cried, "Mommy, these are Bisgusting." (That's not a typo - disgusting became bisgusting in our house when, as a toddler, Mitchell couldn't pronounce the "d" sound - so we all embraced the new, more powerful word, bisgusting.)

Like cookies, primary love relationships also have essential ingredients. And while substitutes for these ingredients may create a close approximation of a good relationship, the outcome can be equally flat, dry, and eventually broken.

What do you need? The answer to this question is 50% of the recipe for your particular relationship's success. We all partner to meet our needs.

Happiness in love depends on your ability to get core, emotional needs met. If unmet, most of us will ineffectively attempt to pacify ourselves with excessive sleeping, eating, working, drinking, or we may turn to others to meet our needs. We are more likely to pursue ineffective means to meet, or soothe, our needs than to accept they just won't be met.

Our ineffective attempts to meet unmet needs can lead to some of our greatest relationship struggles.

Seeking to feel loved by drinking, or trying to feel safe by sleeping, is akin to scratching my nose to ease the itch on my knee. It doesn't matter how many times I scratch my nose, if it is my knee that itches, then it is my knee that I must tend to. We all want to feel emotionally safe, secure and loved. We want to feel connected, valued, understood and respected. How we arrive at these feelings is different for each of us.

A chocolate chip cookie needs baking soda to rise, what do you need to rise in your life? According to Gary Chapman, there are five key love languages, (he is author of The Five Languages of Love). This book is a great introduction to the concept that we all go about getting our needs met differently. What matters is that we both have opportunities to experience the things that are important to us; not that they are the same.

Ask yourself these questions and start to uncover the essential ingredients for your relationship success:

  1. What are your core emotional needs and how are these needs best met?
    • Are you doing what YOU can to meet these needs yourself?
    • Is your partner able, and willing, to support you in getting these needs met?
  2. What are the core emotional needs of your partner, and how are these needs best met?
    • Is your partner doing what he/she can to meet these needs herself?
    • Are you willing, and able, to support her in getting these needs met?

While partners do not have to have the same language to meet their respective needs, we do need to have the ability to get our needs met to feel satisfied in our relationships. No one wants to feel trapped in a relationship where it is not possible to get their needs met. (Read this If you are unsure about the difference between a want and a need.)

I wish for you the perfect ingredients to rise in your life, and in your love.

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