In a couple of weeks, you may be making New Year's resolutions. The start of a new decade, time to begin again with fresh hope and a chance to better your life. More exercise, better diet, wiser spending, a meditation routine? Resolution sounds very final and definite, and yet have you ever found that not long into a new year, resolutions are forgotten with the Christmas decorations, and life springs back to "normal?"
Resolutions, like commitments, agreements or vows, need to be at least in part workable. If not, you may feel disappointed with yourself, lose trust and confidence in your ability to direct your life as an accountable adult. I do not like resolutions. My preference is to set an intention, a direction that sets me on a certain course that I can refer to later. If I go "off track", what then? I can check whether the intention is still valid for me and modify it if necessary. I can also forgive myself when I fall short of my best intention.
What about the vows you exchange with a loved one for marriage or lifelong partnership? Do they still hold up from year to year? Do you even remember what they were? Vows can be seen as the bridge between romantic love and the love that lasts a lifetime. For better or worse, the commitment to love can lead to emotional maturity, understanding, compassion and appreciation of yourself and your loved one.
Any lifelong partnership will go through twists and turns. Nothing stays exactly the same. Negotiating the rocky moments will invite you to open and expand your love -- for yourself and your partner.
A partnership is like a growing plant. It needs regular nourishing. What is the equivalent of the sun and water that your relationship needs in order to flourish, blossom and bear fruit? The harvest can include a sense of security, trust, peace of mind, fun and laughter, self-confidence and well-being. In short, the return on investing your time and attention will be a growth of your love, individually and together.
Here are some suggestions for enriching your close partnership:
1. Make time for your loved one
The demands of work and a growing family can be a big distraction from nurturing your loved one. Each week, set aside an hour or two to be with the special person in your life.
I love you, not for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.
2. Communicate -- what is true for you
To be honest, you need to feel safe from threat or criticism. Do not make your own feelings wrong or bad. They are just feelings and can change from one moment to the next.
God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches by means of opposites,
so that you will have two wings to fly, not one.
Keep your heart open and do not take what is said personally.
Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.
4. Be willing to forgive past mistakes...
.... and let go of disappointment, misunderstanding, hurt feelings. What have you learnt from your experiences? How can you now be enriched through them?
Love is, above all else, the gift of oneself
5. Plan together -- share your dreams
Do you have any hidden dreams that you have not aired before? How will your next year together be most rewarding and fulfilling for each other? What are the areas for which you would like special support, encouragement and comfort? How will you best be dealing with any challenges you now face? How could you be rewarding and celebrating your love?
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
William Butler Yeats
6. Acknowledge and appreciate each other
Notice and record the good deeds done, love expressed, challenges met and overcome in 2009. Be a kind witness to your partner and their endeavours. We are all of us doing the best we can in all of our circumstances. When we know better, we do better. Become a loving observer to your beloved.
Love is the feeling of wanting to be of service to others; love is not for your own sake.
7. Choose one vow to sustain and grow your love over the next year
For example, to take time each week to share your thoughts and ideas; to express your feelings honestly and without blame; to be a better listener; to take a special weekend away just the two of you.
I am like a falling star who has finally found her place next to another
in a lovely constellation, where we will sparkle in the heavens forever.
Communication is the cornerstone to successful relationships. If you have not already read it, you might enjoy my recent post: Do You Know Your Love Language?
There is nothing more precious and enduring than the genuine love felt and expressed between two people. The spark of early romance can deepen and grow into a love that blesses a family and the larger community around it. When times are difficult, we most need, and can nurture, our inner strengths. When the good times come round again, there will be plenty more to celebrate.
Have your vows been meaningful for you? What do you appreciate most in your loved one? How would you like to celebrate your love in the New Year?
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