The Most Important Thing

After a failed long term relationship (6 1/2 years) and a failed marriage (we were together almost 10 years total), I’d like to think I’ve learned a fair bit about what makes a successful relationship.

Well, shit. At least I know for sure what makes an UNsuccessful one.

CBG and I aren’t without our problems. We’ve faced some pretty emotionally charged issues. We’ve dealt with my depression and anxiety, problems with my close circle of friends, dealing with exes, blending families, coping with the distance as well as working through other issues that have cropped up between the two of us. We survived a breakup early on in our relationship, and had a joyful reunion after we had some time to smarten up a little bit. We’ve teetered on the edge of a breakup since getting back together. More than once, even.

We have been through a lot.

We don’t always handle these issues perfectly. Sometimes we run into misinterpretations of what the other person is trying to say. Sometimes our own personal issues get in the way. But in two and a half years together, one thing we’ve never done –  despite running into conflict and upset – is get into a screaming match with one another. Before it gets even close to that point, we take a break – take some time to think about what’s going on, and then return to the conversation, ready to listen to the other person with compassion and understanding.

We’ve both “been there, done that” in terms of screaming matches with our significant others. And we’ve both learned that it just doesn’t work. Misunderstandings escalate quickly. Feelings get hurt. Things get said in the heat of the moment that should never be said.

After two and a half years with a man who has loved me unlike any other man ever has, I think I know what the most important thing in a relationship is. It’s not sex. It’s not friendship. Hell, I don’t even necessarily think that it’s love. I think that the most important thing in a relationship is feeling heard by the other person.  Sex and love and friendship all go through cycles in a relationship. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes it’s not so great at all. Other times, it’s just okay. But I think that if you are always able to talk to your partner and feel heard by them – no matter what – then you can get through anything that arises…if you truly want to. Matters of love and friendship and sex are always made better by listening and being heard – always.

So listen to your partner. Look into their eyes. Hear their thoughts and feelings. It’s the most important thing you can do for the one you love.

8 Responses

  1. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

    Agreed.

    • You’re right, T — that’s what it is. And that was something I NEVER ONCE felt in my marriage. Sure, he loved me, but he didn’t respect me. That was the fatal flaw.

      And now that I know how respect feels, I won’t settle for anything less than that.

  2. Totally, TOTALLY agree. Feeling heard is huge in a relationship. Similar to you and CBG, my husband and I have a rule – we never go to bed angry with one another and we always talk it out, no matter what. We don’t yell, we hash it out and we listen and we figure it out. It’s not always pretty but we hear eachother. communication seriously can make or break a relationship, I firmly believe that.

  3. Obviously I agree here too. That is a great point and it’s easily missed over the other things (love, sex, etc) sometimes, yet it is definitely one of the most important for a successful relationship! You got this!

  4. Thank you for this. Having had two long term relationships end I’ve never really understood why.

    Perhaps, I need to listen a little more!

  5. we have a really similar relationship history. i’ve been in exactly 2 relationships in my life–a nearly 7 year relationship that spanned my senior year of high school to my early 20’s, and then my failed marriage, which was nearly 10 years as well. respect was greatly lacking in both of my relationships. my history has made me really afraid of becoming involved with someone new. it really is all about respect. i need to remember this.

  6. […] I plan on spending more time and effort to let CBG know exactly how much I love, appreciate and respect him. Sure, he knows all this already, but it’s good to give a few extra reminders every now […]

  7. […] Thank you for respecting me. […]

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