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How To Save A Relationship

Relationships are never simple. Relationships don't conform to the idea that one size fits all: what works for one won't work for another, because people and the relationships they form are unique. To begin, let's agree that relationships are intricate in nature. One of the things that keeps relationships fascinating is that they're all unique; no two are the same.

There's something between two souls that draws them together and motivates them to form a relationship, but to suggest that a universal rule or guideline exists explaining that is naive. What works to keep one relationship secure and thriving won't necessarily work for others - a relationship in many ways is a world unto itself. That is why, having multiple relationships in order to become a better partner doesn't work.

All that having been said, however, there are three things - consider them fundamentals - that have to exist if the relationship is going to last very long.

First, a relationship must have effective communication if it's going to succeed. This means the opening of hearts and sharing of things like hopes and plans for the future.  It's easy to talk about the news or last night's television program.  Real communication, though, requires honesty and self-giving. Communication takes place on many different levels, of course.  The morning chatter over coffee isn't really idle - couples share their plans for the day so that they can reach each other if necessary. Couples share with each other their concerns about problems on the job, in their families, and in their own hearts, looking for advice and consolation.

Relationships where the partners don't also share their feelings with each other have an unstable foundation. Good communication doesn't consist only of the good things - indeed, the relationship is strengthened when the couple can communicate well about uncomfortable issues like dislikes or discomforts in the relationships.

The second great foundation of good relationships is honesty. Couples who undertake to be together, sharing their lives, handicap themselves seriously if they cannot be honest with each other. Once the bloom is off the rose, if a couple really loves each other and wants to be together, it's important to acknowledge their humanity and fallibility and accept it.

If one of the partners in a relationship finds that the other has lied, a shadow is cast on everything that's transpired between them, and from then on there will always be a nagging question lurking in the back of their minds, "Is this the truth?". Partners in a relationship who are reluctant to share the truth with the other, even if it means at least momentarily hurting their feelings, are well advised to examine their own commitment to the relationship.

If the relationship is one of true love, the third foundation will easily grow - forgiveness. While we don't like to admit to our fallibility, nobody's perfect.  The ability to forgive is a gift granted to us. Forgiveness may require that the one who offended the partner admits to his guilt, but it definitely requires that the hurt partner absolves the other of guilt and then never opens the topic again.  Forgiveness must be complete. If it isn't, unsolved issues will surface again in the worst moments and cause problems in the relationship. Forgiveness is one of the most honest expressions of the love two people can have for each other. And yes - it is very hard at times!

Couples for whom these three factors form the basis of the relationship can be assured of many happy years together. If even one is missing, the relationship is in trouble, and if the couple wants to stay together it's critical that they both attend to developing the missing foundational elements.

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