June is the month of the bride. The magazines are full of ads for the perfect dress, the perfect venue, and the perfect flowers. Photographers and DJ’s have their schedules booked with receptions. All of this time, effort, and money into the perfect wedding. The couples actually invest far less into preparing for a happy, and long lasting relationship than they do for a wedding.
Years later, they enter a therapist’s office to try and repair the relationship that has broken down over time due to lack of effort, understanding, and general preparation for a relationship. Preparing for a relationship, now that is a novel idea. How exactly does one prepare for a relationship?
First of all, throw away all your romance novels, romantic movies, and anything else that ends like the fairy tale Cinderella. The idea that we can be happy without working at it is the number one relationship killer of all time. A relationship takes motivation, diligence, and a willingness to say you are sorry. http://andthatswhyyouresingle.com/2012/02/13/how-do-you-prepare-for-a-relationship/
Second of all you must know yourself. The following questions are a staple of my counseling practice. Where did you learn about how to have a relationship? What was your parents’ relationship like? These questions often put the person on the defensive. A gentle reminder from the therapist that we LEARN to have relationships from the people around us will defuse this defensiveness quickly. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/11/11/how-to-prepare-for-being-in-a-good-relationship/
The third and sometimes the hardest task is to know and understand your belief system. This is where the culture you were raised in affects your relationship. What cultural beliefs do you have about relationships? Do men act a certain way? Do women act a certain way? The experiences you have had with previous relationships will impact your belief system too. If you have dated several people, and the relationship ended the same way, you may believe that all relationships end that way.
The learning, the culture, and your belief system all combine in intricate ways in your relationships. It takes time, patience, and work with therapist to sort out what you want to keep in your relationship and what can be kept. Once you know how you operate in a relationship then you can find someone that has the same values as you do. If you are already in a relationship, you can work with the therapist to enhance the relationship you are currently in. The relationship can only get better with work, patience, and motivation to make it work.