How to (and how not to) build a relationship

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 2.39.42 PMEver been in or observed a relationship that didn’t seem quite right, but you couldn’t put your finger on what it was that was wrong? Ever wondered if you should stay in the relationship you’re in, but you’re not sure where to look for clues?
When we’re honest, these thoughts have crossed all of our minds at one point or the other. There are so many factors to consider in making the decision to keep on keeping on in a relationship or knowing that it’s time to call it quits.
I recently read a single sentence that I believe sums up the bulk of what to base a relationship decision upon: A healthy relationship is one where two independent people just make a deal that they will help make the other person the best version of him or herself possible. (I would like to attribute it to someone specific, but alas my Internet searches all come up empty.)
The first big truth of that sentence lies in the words “two independent people.” If the people involved in a relationship rely too much on the other (or anyone else, for that matter), chances are high that the relationship will never be completely healthy. Last week, in an interview for his new book, Gene Simmons, front man for KISS (and not someone I usually go to for advice), made a great point about the importance of girls and women establishing independence and financial security before getting into a serious relationship. In my book, he’s right.
My husband and I are approaching our 21st wedding anniversary. If I had to identify what has made our relationship work through the years, the key lies in the fact that I know that he does what he can to make me the best version of myself. In all likelihood, he’s probably better at this than I am. Through the years, I hope I have learned from his example and that I contribute to him being a better person. At this point, I’m probably better at doing so that I was when I was younger.
When I look back at various relationships I was in before we married, I’m able to pinpoint the reason most of them didn’t work to the fact that one of us wanted the other to be something that he or she envisioned rather than the best version of ourselves that we could be. That mistake is a red flag in any relationship and happens far too often in young love. Sometimes those relationships keep going, leaving both in a Sisyphean struggle. Finally, one partner pushes the other across a Rubicon, and the relationship is over.
This truth applies beyond romantic relationships and includes friendships and other familial relationships, as well.
Granted, every relationship can be challenging, and there’s a fine line between keeping on keeping on and keeping on when the effort is futile. Asking the simple question: Has this person made a deal to do his or her best to make that person the best version of him or herself?
Knowing at what point in a relationship to ask the question can be tricky, but if you’re wondering if the time has come to ask it, then the time probably is nigh. The answer is usually obvious.

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One thought on “How to (and how not to) build a relationship”

  1. Lydia Myrene was one of mom’s (Marteal Mattox Smith) favorite cousins. When did she die. Sorry to hear that. Mom’s mom was Katie Henderson brother to James Monroe. You must have taken after his son Guy.! Audrey

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