How do you know it’s love? As parents of a combined total of 19 children (varying in age from 9 to 47) — and even more grandchildren, we, the co-directors of Dasi–Ziyad Family Institute are bound to get questions from all categories from our children. The older ones and the younger ones approach us for wise answers to curious, sad or challenging questions.
Then there are the hundreds of clients and workshop participants who query us (Certified Family Life Educators, Certified Better Together Instructors) about their relationships, their families and even their innermost desires, hopes and dreams. Here are some of them:
- Do you think I will love this child as much as I do my first one?
- Is it alright to want time for myself?
- Why should I forgive him when he betrayed my trust?
- She wants to be more than friends, am I really ready for this?
- What’s the difference between marriage and cohabitation?
- Because of one such question that we were asked for the umpteenth time: How do I know it’s love?, this month we’ll talk about looking at your relationship to know if it’s love. Or not.
- Here are some general truths about love: When it’s love we feel better about ourselves; we feel lovable and capable, validated and worthwhile. When we are loved, we feel safe. In a relationship therefore, if we are feeling unsafe, it is probably not true love.
- And because love — especially in a marriage or premarital relationship, should be reciprocal—each person in a relationship should feel loved and worthwhile. If it’s not reciprocal or mutually beneficial, then it’s like the old song says: “I found love on a two way street—but lost it on a lonely highway”
Take the mini test below if you are in a relationship—either married or premarital: Answer each question with a yes or no.
- Do you feel that you can trust or depend on your spouse/mate?
- Do you feel that your spouse can trust or depend on you?
- Are you good friends?
- Do you feel you would die without your spouse/mate?
- Is your spouse/mate the only person who can make you happy?
- Are most of the problems in your relationship due to the unreasonableness or lack of understanding of your spouse?
- Are you honest with your spouse?
- Is your spouse honest with you?
- Do you talk openly and honestly about your feelings and your concerns?
- Do you forgive mistakes?
- Does your spouse forgive mistakes?
- Are you afraid of your spouse?
- Is your spouse afraid of you?
- Has your spouse ever abandoned you in an unsafe place or situation?
- Have you ever abandoned your spouse in an unsafe place or situation?
- Do you ever humiliate your spouse/mate?
- Does your spouse ever humiliate you?
- Do you express anger in healthy ways?
- Do you feel that you have to constantly prove your love?
- Does either of you touch each other in ways that are uncomfortable?
We could add a very important question to this list which has so much to do with creating and maintaining a lasting, healthy relationship: Is there a spiritual or principle-based foundation that you both agree on?
No matter who or where you are, genuine loving relationships are characterized by healthy communication, honesty, respect, friendship, trust, forgiveness, appreciation and compassion. We will analyze the responses to this survey in March’s newsletter.
The best way to ensure that you will be in a loving relationship is to prepare yourself for one. This spring Dasi-Ziyad Family Institute presents a comprehensive course for individuals who want to prepare for healthy relationships. This innovative course, the SELF Healthy Relationship Course (Singles Evaluating Life & Family) covers an array of relationship skills, concepts about manhood and womanhood, values clarification, goal-setting, in-depth exploration of self and more. To register and for more information, send email address, phone number, and name to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Dear Relationship Coach,
We have been married for seven years and we are okay. We’re not thinking about divorce or anything like that but we keep running into the same brick walls. He does things that annoy and bother me and I am sure I do the same. How do I get him to stop some annoying behavior without saying it over and over?
We Need Help
Dear Need Help,
You’ve heard that definition of crazy? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Some important communication skills are required here. Reflective listening where each of you agree to listen to one another in a process where the Listener hears without interruption a few statements from the Speaker. Then the Listener acknowledges what the Speaker has said by repeating, in his or her own words what the speaker has said. No interruptions or telling what you think–just listening and giving back what’s been shared. Then you switch places and the Speaker becomes the Listener and repeats the process.
Or, ask your spouse if instead of talking, you can both write down some concerns and issues in a composition notebeook that you keep just for this purpose. Each day (or each week) you read what the other has written and the next day, give feedback by writing a response. Ask your spouse if he would be willing to do this and then use the “sandwich” approach. That is, say something you appreciate about your spouse and then write about the annoying behavior, then end with something that your spouse is doing well or right.
Try either of these two communication strategies and we think you will begin to see growth in your marriage. Let us know how it works.
With warm regards,
Your Relationship Coach