Understanding Relationships Simplified
by Dr. Sharon R. Bonds
Relationships are the most difficult task that you will embark upon in this life time and one of the most significant connections we will ever have, one that will impact your life forever in one way or another. Relationships are mirrors that afford the participants the opportunity to see themselves through their behavior while corresponding with each other. In other words, the gift of a relationship allows us to see each others behavior and connect with yourself through seeing (observation), thus identifying your faults and weaknesses. In every relationship you lose apart of yourself while you gain apart of a new awareness of self. Every relationship is eternal and it becomes a collective part of who you are. We all are a combination of our experiences, collectively speaking. So pick your friends like you pick your fruit knowing that association breeds assimilation and this friendship is a relationship that becomes a part of who you are. Life is in others and the primary component of life experiences is your relationship with others because it teaches you the value of connectiveness and how to see yourself through your behavior. Do we really know our selves? Relationships’ shows you, guess what? You! Relationships provide an opportunity for personal growth and development. The key to an effective relationship is communication. The things that I have learned during my many relationships are as follows:
- In a relationship the only thing that you are in control of is your responses to the other parties behavior
- You must be happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone else.
- You control nothing outside of you and that is limited if you are not in touch with yourself.You might think you do but in reality you don’t.
- Always communicate what you want or hope to manifest during the relationship and in some cases an agreement maybe necessary.
- Communication is the key to a healthy relationship so utilize this as a means to establish a common ground or a connection.Don’t argue to communicate.
- Know that all relationships are learning experiences that allow you to see yourself and mirror your behavior as well as the other parties’ behavior.Observe and watch then identify, correct and rectify.
- Know that when dealing with or dialoging with the party or parties involved, the general perception that you get is always the right perception.Listen to your inter voice it will not tell you anything wrong.
- All of us are born with intuition which is sometimes referred to as our guidance system and that guidance system or intuition is use it or lose it.If you use it, it becomes more profound and if you don’t it becomes weak and faint.
- Always be truthful to your spouse or partner no matter how much it hurts because this is the connecting bond.
- Treat everyone the way that you want to be treated and better knowing that what goes around comes around which means that there are no coincidences’.
- When dealing with others deal with them from your heart without any expectations or desires of reciprocation.
- Always forgive yourself and others because during the relationship transgressions will be committed both intentionally and unintentionally.
- Have a realistic approach to your expectations during the relationship and if at all possible try to approach it without any expectations.
- Always make it a point to compliment others and remove all negative thoughts.
- Always admit to your mistakes and or faults.It’s okay to say that you are sorry and be apologetic.
- Maintain a level of responsibility and respond to your partner without their request.Responsible meaning where your partner lacks you fit in and if there is a problem or an issue, respond to the real problem and your true needs, as well as that of your partner.
- Appreciate and respect yourself and your partner.Always let them know how you feel.
- Be quick to admit your mistake, acknowledge your faults and be open to suggestions.
- It’s important to touch your partner.Know that shaking hands, hugging and a simple pat on the shoulder is a means of communication.
- Spend quality time together…it’s the small ties that bind.
- Forgiveness is the element that causes the relationship to grow while it is developing, simply by acknowledging the fault and letting it go.
Now, the real question is “What is a relationship?” For all intense and practical purposes relationship will be defined as a connection, state of affairs, mutual dealings with or feelings that exist between parties, countries or people related by blood or not. So in other words you have a relationship with co-workers, bus drivers, school teachers, gas station attendants, etc.
But, there is no other relationship more important than your relationship with yourself in the present moment. Know yourself, find yourself and connect with yourself. When you connect with self only then can you connect with someone else and have a “healthy relationship.” Once you connect with yourself all other relationships are easy (ie., the relationship with your body, which is self-acceptance) relationship with money, friends, co-workers, government agencies, church, etc. Self preservation or should I say “self love, with a self relationship is the first law of nature.” If you sit back and think about it, there is a lesson that was learned in every relationship you’ve had, whether good or bad regardless of the duration of time. Pay attention to how you feel instead of how the other party feels about you. You have no choice but to live with yourself, but you don’t have to live with the other party, remember free will. Most people function on the premise of “Don’t please yourself instead please me.” Don’t be a people pleaser because in so doing you will loose yourself!
As long as you are in your physical body, you cannot escape from having a relationship. Rather the relationship is negative, positive or constructive it still occurs. I believe that it’s our role to constantly manage these various types of relationships, links and interactions we encounter. Relationships first start with interaction, contact, then pondering, next the appreciation, then the lesson, the examination of behavior and the test of lessons to be learned. Please note that whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship or deepening it, that factor is ”ATTITUDE.”
The sustaining force of a relationship is incorporating the same amount of effort that it took to get the relationship is the same amount of force necessary to keep the relationship. We put ourselves through every imaginable uncomfortable situation to get the relationship then to get married and once we get married, it is almost as if it’s another item crossed off our checklist. Married, check. Children, check. Career, check. In most cases we have a romanticized idea in mind as to what our lives will be like after we get married, generally it’s unrealistic and one that’s often not based in reality. Eventually the honeymoon ends and life goes on then you get a true sense as to who you have married or who you are in the relationship with. So we get busy at work, spending time with coworkers, becoming close with our girlfriends discussing our relationship woes, and taking the kids out together. We end up spending more time apart and confiding in those people with whom we share our day, which is another type of relationship.
In order to hold on to the individual that you are in the relationship with you need to create time where you can come back together with your significant other to reconnect and share. This is a fundamental aspect of any relationship. We must put the time as well as the effort in. This connection has the potential to be totally satisfying and complete in helping you grow to levels of emotional intimacy that you may or may not have yet experience or even knew exist. The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is a reaction “both are transformed.”
Unfortunately, too often couples do not consistently invest in nurturing their love and when challenges arise, there isn’t a strong foundation from which to fall back on and the relationship breaks up. Knowing that no one makes you feel anything, it’s how you react and respond that determines your emotions. That is why I think this idea of nurturing a relationship is probably one of the most important keys. It is the very foundation on which the outcome of future experiences and conflicts depend. The most important ingredient that’s put into any relationship is not what we say or do, but rather who we are!
Therefore, I would like to share with you four keys that are important for nurturing relationships.
- Consciously focus on the good in each other.We need to make a conscious effort to focus on the good because this is what allows us to appreciate each other. This is something we do when we first start dating. We de-emphasize the negative and overemphasize the positive. Unfortunately, the scales shift to the opposite after we’re married. Only through a conscious effort can we create a consistent kindness, fondness and appreciation towards one another, where we actually want to honor “until death do us part.”
- Cherish small moments of intimacy and laughter.Finding the opportunities in day-to-day experiences to engage and create beautiful moments and memories together is what it’s all about. Making a commitment to each other that no problem or obstacle will be bigger than your commitment to each other is so important.
- Be vulnerable with one another.I know the word itself doesn’t sound appealing, but giving your heart to somebody you trust and love is a beautiful and necessary thing. Even if it is hard to do. We may be too proud or untrusting to become vulnerable, but so much love and connection can come from this type of openness.
- Repair.This is so necessary because after two people argue, usually one leaves the room and doesn’t come back to say, “I regret what I said.” Not realizing that what they said even if they apologize doesn’t take away the hurt so it gets buried. And then comes the next day with another fight, usually about something insignificant like putting the toilet seat down when you are finished or dropping crumbs on the floor when eating. This cycle becomes the norm and soon it becomes the primary part of the marriage because of the unforgiven minor transgressions. Obstacles are opportunities for growth and development.Whether you feel good or bad about your current relationship, the person that you are with at this moment is the “right” person, because he or she is the mirror of who you are inside. Coming back together for repair is crucial and discussing what happened and how to grow from it. All disagreements are as a result of misunderstanding someone else’s level of consciousness. Relationship should be based on love, note that there is a difference between, “I love you because I need you and I need you because I love you!” Do you know the difference? Do you practice the difference?
A loving relationship is one in which all parties in the relationship are free to be there self – to laugh with each other, but never at each other, to cry with each other, but never because of one another; to love life, to love there self, to love being loved. Such a relationship is based on freedom and can never grow in a jealous heart! Love is the glue of life! It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle, as well as the key that bonds and hold all relationships together on any level.
Every other relationship you have with others on any level whether at home or work, with family or friends or even your relationship with money, concepts, ideas and life itself is affected by the relationship that you have with yourself. The first relationship that has to be developed is your relationship with yourself! That self relationship most be grounded and solid before you can have a successful relationship with others on any level.
Relationship Contracts can bring clarity and success where there previously was none. This is especially true for those who are recovering from sexual abuse, substance abuse and/or are in relationships with a history of difficulties. With some creativity you can successfully use these simple steps with adults and children, marriages, romances, friendships and work/school peers. You may want to add your own touch to the attached forms to help bring them more alive for yourself and those who you may contract with. Try a little color, a drawing or smiley face here and there. Be sure to discuss, review, update and renew these contracts on a regular basis.
- "To Be In A Successful Relationship with Myself": Assists you in entering into a conscious relationship with the various parts that make up your whole self; being: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, sexual, creative, behavioral, vocational. Start each point with the word "I" and state every thing in the positive. For example: "I eat right and get plenty of exercise" or "I engage in positive business practices." List every thing you can think of, then combine and narrow until you have no more than ten that cover all the essentials.
- "To Be In A Successful Relationship With Me": Assists you in consciously determining what you need and/or want from another person if they are to have a relationship with you. This is helpful while seeking a new relationship, starting one and/or redefining an existing one. Also helps you share this with the other person. Starts each point with the word "You" and state every thing in the positive. For example: "You respect my need for space" or "You share your body freely with me." Again, list every thing you can think of then combine and narrow down no more than ten that cover all the essentials.
- "To Be In A Successful Relationship With Each Other": Assists you and another person in consciously developing a "blueprint" or "rules of engagement" in which both agree to abide to. After you have completed the previous contract, share this with your partner. Invite her/him to review it and then do their own revisions. Now discuss and negotiate a joint contract specific to this relationship. Start each points with the word "We" and states every thing in the positive. Again, list every thing you can think of then combine and narrow down to no more than ten that covers all the essentials. Be sure both have a copy.
To Be In A Successful Relationship With Myself:
- I must be open and honest at all times.
- I must see things for what they really are and without any excuses.
- I must not allow my past experiences to hinder this relationship.
- I must open up and allow my true feelings to surface.
- I must be totally committed without any reservations.
- I must communicate.
- I must not judgeSharon and love her unconditionally.
- I must be open minded and willing to listen.
- I must be committed and not insecure.
- I must be conscience about my health and what I eat and drink.
Consequence(s) for following through/not following through with this contract:
This contract is bonded by our unconditional love for each other.
Start Date: ___________________, 2011 Review Date: / /2011
Signature: _______________________ Date: _________________
To Be In A Successful Relationship With Me:
- You must be open and honest at all times.
- You must be ready for a committed relationship with me.
- You must express to me your true feelings.
- You must allow me to express myself.
- You must not eat diet foods or drink diet soda.
- You must not be judgmental and no name calling.
- You must communicate and express your true feelings.
- You will respect and honor each other.
- You will not allow others into our relationship.
- You will be committed and open minded on all issues.
Consequence(s) for following through/not following through with this contract:
Love is the glue that's going to hold us together.
Start Date: ______________________, 20 Review Date: / /2011
Signatures: ____________________ _______________________
To Be In A Successful Relationship With Each Other:
- We must address all disagreements and not allow them to separate us from one another.
- We must put our love for each other first and not allow others to influence our love.
- We must always be honest with each other no matter how much it hurts.
- We must speak our true feelings.
- We must have an open line of communication between us at all times.
- We must trust each other with honesty.
- We must have concern, respect, trust, honesty and commitment for one another.
- We must communicate on all levels with respect.
- We must support one another in our endeavors jointly or other wise.
- We spent quality time with each other with and without the kids.
Consequence(s) for following through/not following through with this contract:
Love is the sole bases of this relationship.
Start Date: _________________, 2011 Review Date: / /2011
Signatures: ____________________ _______________________
RELATIONSHIP CONTRACT AGREEMENT made this _________________ day of _________________, 20___, by and between ________________________________________________, "First Party", and _______________________________________________________, "Second Party. and _______________________________________________________ "Third Party.
WHEREAS the parties are presently residing with each other at ______________________________________________________, have been doing so since _________________________ and intend to continue living together in this arrangement;
WHEREAS the parties desire to affix and define their respective property rights and liabilities arising from their joint residency;
WHEREAS the parties each acknowledge that they enter into this agreement voluntarily, without any duress or undue influence, and that each has had the opportunity to consult with counsel of his/her choice;
THE PARTIES HEREBY AGREE:
1. Marital Status. The joint residency of the parties of the "First" and "Second" part shall in no way render the party of the "Third" part to be married to either the party of the "First" part or "Second" part, by operation of common law or any other operation of law.
2. Consideration. Consideration for this Agreement consists solely of the mutual promises herein contained and the mutual promises of each party to act as the living companion and partner to the other. This Agreement fully contemplates and compensates any and all services provided by any party for the benefit of the other during the course of their joint residency.
3. Disclosure of Current Financial Status. Each party has fully and completely, to the best of his/her knowledge, disclosed to the other parties his/her current financial condition regarding all liabilities.
4. Division of Living Expenses. Necessary and jointly approved living expenses shall be apportioned between the parties as follows:
The parties shall deposit their pro rata contributions monthly into the joint checking account of all three parties. These contributions shall be for the sole purpose of the living expenses incurred and shall be divided equally between all three parties. This joint checking account shall be monitored by all three parties.
5. Separate Property. The parties shall keep the following properties as the separate property of the recipient and said properties shall not be subject to division at the termination of this Agreement:
(a) Individual earnings, salary, wages, bonuses, dividends or royalties acquired before or after the execution of this Agreement;
(b) Individual gifts, bequests, devises or inheritances acquired before or after the execution of this Agreement;
(c) All property, real or personal, owned by a party at the date of execution of this Agreement;
(d) All income or proceeds derived from the aforementioned properties.
6. Joint Property. All property acquired by the parties after the execution date of this Agreement and before the termination of this Agreement and procured jointly with joint resources and funds shall be considered joint property of the parties with each party possessing his/her aforementioned percentage of ownership.
7. Commingling of Property. Absent a reasonable demonstration of sole ownership, where either party commingles joint property with separate property, any commingled property shall be presumed to be joint property of the parties.
8. Division of Property upon Termination. Upon termination of this Agreement or termination of the joint residency, all jointly owned property shall be divided among the parties according to their pro rata share listed above. If the parties are unable to agree on the appropriate division of joint property, they may appoint an independent and mutually agreed upon Third-party to act as Appraiser. The Appraiser shall divide the property among the parties according to his/her pro rata share.
9. Duty of Good Faith. This Agreement creates a fiduciary relationship between the parties in which each party agrees to act with the utmost of good faith and fair dealing toward the other in the management of their joint property and in all other aspects of this Agreement.
10. Legal Names of Parties. Each party shall retain his/her legal name, including surname, as printed and signed in this Agreement.
11. Duration of Agreement. This Agreement shall become effective at the date of execution and shall remain in effect until termination. Termination shall be effected by written notice by either party, cessation of the joint residency by either party or death of either party. Either party may terminate this Agreement unilaterally at any time.
12. Complete Agreement. It is the intent of the parties that this Agreement be the full and complete agreement between the parties regarding their joint residency. There are no other agreements between the parties regarding their joint residency other than those stated herein. This Agreement shall only be modified by a writing executed by all three parties hereto.
13. Severability of Provisions. Should any paragraph or provision of this Agreement be held invalid, void, or otherwise unenforceable, it is the intent of the parties that the remaining portions shall nevertheless continue in full force and effect without impairment.
14. Governing Law. This Agreement shall be governed by, interpreted and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of __________________________
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have executed this Agreement at ______________________________ on this _____ day of _____________________________, 20___.
_________________________________ First Party
_________________________________ Second Party
Copyright 2011 Dr. Sharon R. Bonds All Rights Reserved. The Relationship Contract may be printed for your personal use only. You ARE NOT ALLOWED redistribute any information or reproduce it in any form without the express written permission of Dr. Sharon R. Bonds.