4 Keys to Sustainable Love
What is a good relationship?
Having a healthy, intimate, sustainable relationship is one of the most challenging and satisfying experiences in living. I have learned to define a good relationship as sustainable love. As a couple’s coach I work to help my clients build sustainable love. At this point in my career, I think of this as the most important work I do — as I’ve seen the devastating effects of broken relationships on children, families, our communities and our world.
In creating sustainable love, we need to step back….way back from ourselves and our habitual, automatic ways of looking at relationships and put on a different lens.
Our first opportunity in stepping back is to look at where we are going.
How are we looking at relationship…..
If we buy what we are told in our disposable culture about love, we will end up off course.
#1 Key: Sustainable love is hard work.
We live in an world which tells us love should be easy. The famous kiss, the mythical perfect mate, the romance, and the happy ever after. There is a cultural myth that there is a perfect love. When we live in this truth, we are predisposed to look elsewhere rather than batten down the hatches and to live in the solution. The aging couples walking on the beach or helping one another with daily life activities, often create warm feelings in us; however we almost never think about the unseen events, hardships and hard work that went into creating that love.
When we throw away or discard relationships because we’re not happy, we end up taking many paths that eventually lead us back to ourselves. Wherever you go, there you are.
#2 Key: Sustainable love is self-responsibility.
This is huge and a misstep that I see many couples make – rather than looking to our relationship or our partner to make us happy, we need to move towards accepting that happiness and well-being is an inside job. It is our responsibility to learn to make ourselves happy. And maybe, sustainable love isn’t always really happy. How realistic is it that a relationship will make us happy?
#3 Key: Love is a verb. Love is generative.
“Our love is generative when it empowers us and others; when it helps us, individually and collectively, to complete ourselves and grow.” ~Paul Tillich
Maybe, we could look at the path to well-being and satisfaction as expanding our capacity to love. That living love as the path to happiness creates enduring relationships rather than vice versa.
This is a radical shift for most couples. To view love as a generative process, not as an outcome. An on-going process that is organic, not linear. A process that allows you to develop into a person that experiences joy, satisfaction in your life with your partner because your learning to love more deeply, more fully has enabled you to love and accept yourself as well. To drop unrealistic expectations and to live more in the solution of making your relationship what you want it to be.
#4 Key: Sustainable love is practice. One day at a time.
A healthy, loving and committed relationship is a one day at a time practice. And every opportunity is six inches in front of us. Everyday. Every moment. We learn skills. We learn to listen more. We practice accepting. We apologize. Day in, day out.
Try shifting your lens and trying some new navigational equipment in your relationship with these keys and observe what begins to happen in your relationship.