Sunday, August 24, 2008

Relationships 101: Mind the Gap

What makes some relationships work while others fail miserably? I'm far from being a psychologist, but in light of my 28th anniversary I developed the gap theory for relationships. Its essence is :

  • Identifying initial gaps for selecting the right partner
  • Preventing new gaps from being born
  • Filling newly formed narrow gaps to stop their development into large gaps [that are more difficult to handle].

Like any theory, the gap theory is not perfect. In real life, there probably are many exceptions that work, too.

Choosing a Suitable Partner

I like to watch romantic Hollywood comedies, even though I disagree with the underlying message that there is only one person in the entire world who is meant to be your partner for life. The truth is that we can partner with many people, especially when we are young and flexible. But there should be some common ground. In a movie I recently saw, a young Swiss woman marries a muscular Masai tribeman. Did they have a real chance for a lasting relationship? Yes, a tiny one. Here comes the first gap to avoid: large differences [of any kind]. Love cannot possibly bridge all differences, even though it may seem so in the beginning.

How do you know your new relationship is on the right track for the long term? Although 'it's tough to make predictions, especially about the future', as Yogi Berra pointed out, a good sign is the positive tendency of your relationship: the more you konw your partner, the more you like and love him/her. Your initial blindness turns into heart-and-mind love. The heart part is what you see in movies, the mind one is more difficult. It makes you respect and appreciate your partner, potentially longer lasting features.

With the initial blindness dissipating, you will be able to see your partner in a more realistic light, with [all] his/her flaws. If you can't accept your partner's flaws, move on. Don't expect to change him/her. Issues that annoy you now tend to accentuate over time. It's amazing how many people ignore these early warnings. I know women who got slapped by their boyfriend, followed by apologies, married the guy and became beated women.

Minding New Gaps

Preventive maintenance of relationships lies in communication and sharing. Don't outsource your communication. I got a beautiful greeting card from my husband for our 28th anniversary. He spent hours looking for the right one, with the perfectly worded text. So what's my problem? I prefer a less perfect text that comes from his own heart rather than from a [talented] copywriter. Unlike house cleaning, communication is way too important to outsource to a paid service provider. Keeping it genuine takes the same amount of time and effort, but yields a completely different result.

Spend quality time together and take short breaks to add color spots to your gray routine. Discuss your experience at work, activities and friends over a cup of coffee, keep your partner up to date with your life and thoughts. Sparing negative or worrisome details will result in a widening gap. This happened to a friend of mine and surprisingly [or not] for the 'right' reason. His wife became ill and he wanted to spare her the daily worries to prevent deteriorating her health. With time she stopped being his partner and their long marriage ended up with a divorce.

Once a new gap popped up its ugly little head, don't ignore or drag it. Resolve differences the same day, adviced my aunt Rozsi before my marriage. Gaps became too large to cope with? If you seek improvement, take professional advice.

Have I conducted my own life according to these guidelines? How could I? They just recently crystalized in my head.

1 comment:

ioana said...

picture taken at the TATE?looks familiar... anyway, i'm really enjoying the blog.looking forward to more posts!