Saturday, October 21, 2006

Loving Relationships...

During university lectures, therapy sessions, book talks and “solving-the-world’s-problems” conversations at beachside restaurants, it’s not uncommon for someone to ask me one of life’s challenging questions: “Why do people get into and stay in adult loving relationships?” As I address in my pop-psych and self-help books, and portray in my romance novels, I suggest it is primarily for two simplistically sounding reasons.

Firstly, when we first fall for, and when we still feel wonderful being in a relationship with, him or her, we feel special. Remember when you first fell in lust with, and felt smitten by, him or her? Jeez, it was like your had a positive self-concept on steroids. The speed bumps and potholes of life were a piece of cake… you simply felt special anyway.

And secondly, if you were to compare “what your life is like in the relationship with him or her” to “what your life would be like if you weren’t in the relationship with him or her,” your conclusion would be: my life is better in this relationship with him or her.

On the flipside, I have observed that two of the first signs that an adult loving relationship in serious trouble, is: (a) when one or both individuals aren’t feeling special in the relationship anymore; and/or (b) when one or both of them are starting to think about what their life would be like if they weren’t in the relationship.

If you know of a competing or close-third reason… I’m listening.

Thanks, Bill


Anonymous said...

I would say that lack of ability to communicate signs a and b are the real indications of trouble.

When the "shiny" wears off in a relationship, one will begin to feel less special and wonder what it would be like to have "that feeling" again.

If those in the relationship can communicate their thoughts (positive as well as negative) these issues are generally able to be remedied. Would you agree?

Could that be our reason number 3? I am listening also.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your insightful suggestion – I think you are on the money. Not only do I agree with you (about it being third), but also suggest that “the ability to communicate clearly and accurately” is arguably #1 in the “Skill Sets” in good loving relationships. In my book, ADULT LOVING RELATIONSHIPS,, I address the importance of “Empathy (Listening) Skills” and quote a client who, in a marriage therapy session, said to her husband, “The best way you show me you love me is when you listen to me.” (p.195)

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts,