May 17, 2007

Principles to relationships

There are three principles that we should understand well before committing to any
romantic relationship. If you're already in a relationship, studying these principles
intimately and practicing them will help ensure a lasting, satisfying relationship.

Unrealistic expectations are usually what drive a couple apart, so the first principle to
understand is that your partner does not owe you your happiness. This may sound strange
because why else would we want to enter relationships if not to find happiness?

Sure, we should derive joy from our relationships but our partner should not bear the duty
of giving us joy. Joy should be the spontaneous consequence of two people sharing feelings
of love for each other, not the result of one party constantly striving to fulfill the
other's needs.

When we expect our partner to make us happy, we set up opportunities for failure, and each time our partner fails to meet our demands, we lose respect and affection for him or her. Besides, love doesn't mean consistently giving in to our demands. And love doesn't mean always making us happy. What gives our joy may not always be in our best interests. And love can sometimes mean hardship and pain.

The second principle for fulfilling relationships is to love your partner for who they
are. Don't love a fantasy version of them you hope will emerge in the future. Many people
enter a relationship thinking that in time, their partners will change, but this often
doesn't happen. Your partner entered the relationship believing that this is what you fell
in love with. He or she doesn't see any reason to change.

Loving your partner for who they are also means accepting their flaws, or what you deem to
be flaws. Each person has attractive qualities as well as some habits or characteristics
we may not find so beguiling. But we should love our partners in spite of the qualities
wedon't appreciate as much as the others. There is no perfect lover, like there is no
perfect gadget. You're always going to have to trade off certain features for other ones
you find more suited to you. And when you run into conflict over those undesirable
features, your love for the whole product should be more than enough to make you overlook
the flaws and still embrace your partner. So ask yourself "If my partner upsets me, will I
be able to look past the words and actions and still love the person?"

The third and final principle is to love and respect yourself as much as you love and
respect your partner. This is because if you feel inadequate compared to your partner, you
might become obsessed with fulfilling his or her needs and neglect your own. Over time,
your partner will learn to take you for granted and you will no doubt begin to feel like
you got the short end of the stick.

Maintaining fulfilling relationships is no easy job, but understanding and practising
these three principles should help you a great deal.

(Presented by 'Eugene Loh, A Slice of Life, 938LIVE, a station of MediaCorp Radio.)

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