Your Relationship is your Greatest Asset
Over the past years, Caroline’s relationship stories have been aimed at letting you know that it’s OK to make mistakes, and that your relationship is your greatest asset. They have a magic as she is able to weave together ideas worth pondering in the context of a simple events or nature-filled landscapes.
As Caroline takes a break, I’ll take this more into the direction of sharing practical information, derived from my clinical practice, for you to use to make goodness in your relationship more of a reality. Making a good thing better. Caroline will still choose the photographs, though, she’s quite proud of her vast collection of intriguing nature shots. The main message is simple:
Your relationship is your greatest asset.
It’s worth investing in it further
To make a good thing better.
Long-term relationships are the spice of life. They are the reason so many people are happy. They are the reason some are unhappy; they want their relationship to be better. Long-term relationships can hurt and heal. They promote love and life; anger and resentment; sadness and joy. They’re complex. If you are brave enough to have opted in to one of these, then you have chosen to live life more deeply, more intensely and more meaningfully.
If the bravery of committing to a long-term relationship has left you shaking at the knees, join the club. Welcome to life on cloud eight. (Though we still plan occasional visits to cloud nine.) Caroline and I have been in relationship for over thirty-five years and it has filled our lives with love, joy, warmth and happiness. It’s also been the source of frustration, pain, problems and hurt. Neither of us get it right all the time and our relationship is a lot of work; but the lasting love is worth every exasperating moment and every aching argument.
What’s the one thing that people long for the most?
A long-term relationship.
Not the fairy-tale, but the reality.
A good, solid long-term relationship can give belonging, love, security, protection, a shoulder to cry on, someone with whom to share joy, sadness, love, sex, hopes, dreams and successes and failures. It gives us the opportunity to grow old with someone. It protects us from naval-gazing, selfishness, drifting, getting lost, and, above all, it protects us from loneliness. The brain hates loneliness. Many fears and vices – alcohol excess, drug use, gambling, risky sex – are borne of loneliness.
As a psychiatrist, I have seen the struggle of people in unhappy relationships: drudgery, broken dreams and unreasonable compromise. I have seen people lead problem lives because of problem relationships instead of powerful lives because of powerful relationships. I have seen the devastating impact of separation and divorce. Divorce is a large risk factor for suicide. It often triggers a major depressive episode. I’ve also seen the elation of two people as they work it out and keep it together.
When the going gets tough, it seems our society offers us two choices: break-up or live with unhappy compromise. But there is a third and very viable alternative: nurture your relationship so that it flourishes. Nurture means work, like tilling a garden, but it also means pleasure and joy from the blossoms, fruit and seasons weathered and overcome. In a relationship that may have been battered by the demands of a too-busy society, that means rediscovering the person you first fell in love with; rediscovering the fun things you shared; rediscovering the joy of just beginning to know and trust someone deeper; and bravely being your authentic self to go over deeper.
No matter how tough the going gets, the person you once fell in love with is right in front of you.
Keep talking. Share life. Share more.
A healthy relationship will have its fun but you’ll also need to work through minor rights violations (you’re being a jerk) and tolerate human frailty (now, you’re being silly). You’ll need to tolerate a tendency to be hurtful, while striving for harmony. Working through these frustrating things is the hallmark of a healthy relationship.
Welcome to our blog. Each blog contains an insight into your relationship and how to mend or grow it drawn from Christian's 18 years of clinical experience working in psychiatry. They are told as stories. The central ideas are in bold. All the pictures are originals. We post once a month. Looking forward to travelling with you in this amazing journey called life.