6 Pillars of Healthy Relationships
April 11th, 2017
Whether you’re “in” the Lifestyle or not, people love to give relationship advice.
We’re fortunate that our job lets us travel and meet couples from around the world. And what makes us appreciate their advice is that it comes from personal experiences in and out of the Lifestyle.
To us…maybe not everyone, the Lifestyle means everything is optional.
Whether you’re a naturalist or full swap, exhibitionist or voyeur, participate in soft swapping or simply a fun sexy no topic off limits conversation.
So here we go… advice we’ve heard from around the world regarding how to have a healthy satisfying relationship.
Tip #1: Don’t take everything so serious
This is great to remember and is something we should all strive to live by.
Even we are guilty sometimes of forgetting this. As a society we should think more about the positive and less about the negative.
Stop worrying or fearing the worst…expect the best and watch how you receive it more often. Many are concerned if they don’t “control” their partners’ thoughts as well as actions they could lose them. We have learned the exact opposite is true.
Trusting your partner is key.
Without trust you can’t live in the Lifestyle and we have trouble believing you are Sex Positive. Believing in and trusting your partner is the building blocks you use to move forward in a happy healthy way.
Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, J.D. licensed marriage and family therapist said, “The best relationship advice I’ve ever gotten, and that I give, is “easy does it.” Too often we get caught up in the fear-based needs to control our partner. This pull becomes a destructive compulsion that corrodes the integrity of the relationship.
It replaces the respect and compassion with anger and resentment. It destroys the quality of our lives and over time, the relationship.”
Dr. Hokemeyer is correct and thousands of couples worldwide, without ever reading his words, echo what he said.
Tip #2: Give 90%
For ages we have heard a relationship is 50-50. We call B.S.!
If you imagine a “pie” is 100% and giving 50-50 at all times will equal 100%. This however is unrealistic. We can’t always give “half” of what is needed to make our relationship work. When we say give 90% this is due to the fact some days one of you will “carry” the other.
What we do know is if both of you are giving it your all and you are at 30% today and your partner is at 70% you’re still giving your relationship 100%. Strong relationships are partnerships. We once heard someone claim, “it’s my marriage and it should just happen naturally. I shouldn’t have to work for it.” Wow…really?!
The greatest career you can have is working on a happy healthy fulfilling marriage.
Divorce rates are over 60% in North America…this IS a job that both partners should be invested in. Giving to your relationship is about taking your partners needs as well as yours into consideration.
Compromising doesn’t mean giving up or giving in…it means working together.
Agreeing to disagree will not cause a problem as long as you both respect that differing opinions is ok, it’s healthy and it’s necessary for a relationship to stay strong. We don’t agree with each other on many issues however we respect each other enough to love no matter where either of us stands on a topic. Parenting, finances, how to or when to play if you are in the Lifestyle…these are a few areas you must find an agreement on.
None of this…”I’ll take one for the team this time and you do it next time.”
No, No, No…if you do this all we hear is, “danger Will Robinson…danger.”
Dr. Gail Saltz, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian’s Weil-Cornell Medical College received the 90% advice from her parents (it was my grandparents who gave this advice to me) and she wrote, “I just celebrated my 26th wedding anniversary. I definitely think about my spouse’s needs and feelings the majority of the time and try to be compromising.
In return I feel he is 90% thinking of me and how to consider my feelings and be supportive and loving.
Sometimes this means giving something up, but most times it means we both get what we want and we both feel very loved, supported and that we are in each other’s corner. I don’t feel afraid to be giving, because he really has my best interests at heart. We are a terrific team and often we agree on what we want.
And when we don’t, we tend to take turns supporting the other’s wants.”
Keep in mind; Dr. Saltz isn’t saying they “take one for the team”. She’s stating they are “supporting the other’s wants.” There is a difference.
When you willingly support your partner’s wants you are doing it because it makes you feel good as well. When you take one for the team we have seen far too much resent and anger grow between couples.
Tip #3: No one can make you happy until you know
how to make yourself happy
This is a no-brainer however easily forgotten.
Many of us feel we need to find our “missing link”. Not true. Stop looking for someone who completes you and start opening your eyes to find someone who compliments you.
No matter how hard you or your partner try…you can’t make the other person happy if they don’t know how to do it for themselves. As we travel the world we find the couples that are successful in and out of the Lifestyle are those who realize they would be ok alone however they would rather do what it takes to make their relationship work.
It doesn’t mean they don’t love their partner…no…it means they know how important they themselves are and that God forbid something occurred they could survive. Learning what makes you happy can only come from within you.
You could argue…”being with my partner is my happiness.”
We would be concerned because what happens if tomorrow your partner isn’t here.
Would you stop living? Would you seek out someone new to “make you happy”? The healthy mind realizes you can be happy alone, you can be happy without multiple material possession and you are a good person when you are being you. Don’t let your partner or society define who you are…you define yourself.
Jeff Bear, life coach and founder of Bear Partners says, “If you’re looking for someone to complete you-or vice versa-you’re looking in the wrong direction for the lasting happiness, wholeness, and fulfillment that you truly seek. Wouldn’t it be better if you could find a way to feel how you want to feel regardless of what you’re partner is saying or doing?”
Jeff isn’t saying you should stop looking…he’s sharing you can’t look to your partner to create your happiness. Go back to the 90% suggestion. If your partner is having a tough day or week they may not be able to provide you what you need and they need you to step up and provide them support.
Jeff also shares, “When I learned that I’m responsible for my own happiness and when I learned how to consistently align with it, my entire world transformed.
I now have the freedom to choose if and when I spend time with someone else, and I deliberately choose to spend time with others who get this, too. My relationships are more meaningful, more loving, more free, and importantly-more fun!
And my overall happiness continues to grow, too, regardless of whether I’m in a relationship or not.” Something to add here is the old saying; “no one can love you until you first love yourself.” This is true because if you don’t feel you are worthy of love (or being liked) by you than how can anyone else feel you are worthy?
Heck, self-love, in the physical form, allows men and women to learn what they do and don’t like. We’re here to share the same is true for emotionally loving and liking yourself.
Tip #4: A watched pot never boils so don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today
Be honest with at least yourself…when is “tomorrow”?
Multiple couples share when they started enjoying “today” their relationship grew by leaps and bounds.
Whether it was sex in a room other than their bedroom or buying an item that was in their budget or going on a vacation different than the ones they are used to (travel multiple cities in Europe vs staying at one resort, a cruise instead of a tropical destination where you are only in one city/on one island, a Lifestyle resort vs Lifestyle cruise, etc.) or dipping their toes into the swinging pool… life and their relationship got stronger because they made the decision to move forward, together.
If you are single and feel you have to meet someone “now”…slow down buckaroo. Remember, if you’re happy as a single person you will make a better more stable partner.
Love isn’t around every corner. Sex can be and that’s ok. Casual sex is healthy and rewarding when you do it because you desire it. Lisa Steadman, relationship expert and author of, It’s a Breakup Not a Breakdown, has this advice for single people and we feel it applies to couples as well.
Lisa shares, “When you clean up your side of the street, you make room for a perfectly imperfect person to see you, celebrate you, and love you. And remember that Mr. Right (or Ms. Right) will not be perfect, but will be perfect for you, just as you’ll be perfectly imperfect for him (or her).”
Couples, think about this…perfectly imperfect.
Come on, would you stay with your partner if they expected perfection from you every moment of every day? Would they stay with you if you expected perfection from them…because that is hard to live up too…if you put them on an unrealistic pedestal expecting them to be perfect at all times?
Plus, who’s definition of perfect are you using? History has taught us perfect is different to most people.
Happy couples share the moment they understood and accepted their partners “shortcomings” and their partner accepted and understood theirs is the moment they knew this was “the one”.
Tip #5: Creating rules and boundaries for your relationship must be done as “we” not “me”
In or out of the Swinger Lifestyle we must remember if we’re in a relationship you are a teammate with your partner.
You are not the owner of the team. You are not the captain or general manager (OK, Dom/sub relationships fit here too because the ground rules were discussed and laid out before hand).
Whether it’s how you play or don’t play in the lifestyle or as a Sex Positive couple how you will spend money, where you will love or how you raise your children…this all needs to be done together.
Re-read some of what’s written under #2 regarding complimenting each other and coming to decisions together instead of sacrificing time and time again what you need or want for your partner.
Sacrificing or giving in to something you truly don’t believe in causes resent, anger and lack of passion…don’t fall into this trap. Dr. Wendy Walsh, relationship expert and author of, The 30-Day Love Detox, states, “You can’t put boundaries on someone else-only yourself.
If someone is treating you badly, you can’t change their behavior. But you can ask yourself why you accept it and how you can put a boundary on yourself so that you won’t accept it again.”
Is Dr. Walsh confusing boundaries with expectations?
Of course you can tell someone, “I will not accept (insert specific behavior) so if we want to be together we’ll need to work on this as a team finding a reasonable compromise.” She is correct that you can’t change someone else…you can only change you. Often we remind couples if you ask someone to grow with you success is in your reach however asking someone to change for you typically leads to disaster.
Dr. Walsh does say, “Also, (remember that) life is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you believe you are undeserving of happiness love and prosperity, that’s exactly what the universe will give you.”
This again goes back to loving and liking yourself. Do it and watch as the world becomes your oyster. Hopefully you like oysters.
Tip #6: People enter our lives for a
“season, reason or lifetime”
Are you one of the people that swore you would never date someone your family introduced you too?
Wow are you missing out.
Or does this sound more like you, I won’t date a (insert profession) ever, never.
Again, think of what you could be missing. Love happens in some of the oddest places. That muscly guy you perceive as a meathead may be a rocket scientist who likes staying in shape.
The lady reading a 2000 page book in the “nerdy” glasses may be a supermodel during the day that simply enjoys reading. Put yourself out there…be willing to “go along for the ride”. People come in and out of our lives.
It is ok to date someone you know isn’t “the one”… life is about living and having experiences. When you can separate love and sex… having people you “hook-up” with becomes fun as well as exciting.
The divorce rate throughout modernized society is high. No one gets married, or most people don’t, with the thought they will get divorced. As people are living longer their needs and wants are changing.
Middle age is no longer 20… now it realistically is 40-45.
What you wanted during one decade of your life may change in the next.
If you are with a partner who grows with you… awesome.
If you are with someone who isn’t willing to adjust along with you… sometimes saying goodbye is the best option.
Go back to “life is too short” and realize it’s better to be happy instead of miserable. What kept us in our first marriages years to long was fear of failing. We both felt divorce was a sign of failure.
We didn’t know each other however had the same thoughts.
Understanding failing isn’t getting divorced…failing is staying in a situation that is unhealthy for you and others you love.