Rule Number Five – There is the underlying absolute assumption that each partner believes the other to be basically valuable and well-intentioned toward the other.
No matter what the downsides are in any relationship, no matter what unresolvable conflicts a couple may have, no matter what needs may go unmet, as long as two people continue to choose one another as their significant partner, they must believe that they see inherent value and quality in the other. Whatever negatives exist, as they must in any relationship, partners who love each other truly believe in the unchallengeable quality of their partner’s core selves, and are secure in the knowledge that they both have the other’s best interests at heart.
Rule Number Six – The partners in a great relationship are a team.
Whether they play together, dream together, trust each other’s counsel, know how to resolve conflict, share responsibilities and resources, or are there to nurture distress, the partners in successful relationships make more than the sum of their parts. They watch for when either needs shoring up or authentic challenge. They also revisit their game plans on a regular basis, continuously looking for ways to play it better. There is no need to have power struggles because they strive to agree on who flies left seat and when each has the best chance to lead the team better.
Rule Number Seven – People who love each other want to be the best they can be for the other.
When people are out there dating, they know that they need to put their best foot forward. They get in shape physically, know who they are and what they want, keep themselves up on what is going on in the world, take care of their health, and try to stay away from thoughts and actions that make them less than the best they can be.
Sadly, as many relationships mature, intimate partners tend to lessen their commitments to those behaviors. It is too easy to let up when life’s stresses intervene. But, in successful, long-term relationships, both partners count on the other to keep them in check. They stay committed to being the best people they can be for themselves and for one another, and hold each other to those promises.
Rule Number Eight – Ownership or possessiveness is unacceptable.
No one should ever feel that he or she is simply a player in another person’s script. Insecurity, the need for power, fear of loss, the drive to control, or not trusting the other to comply, all undermine the free choice that is the underlying foundation of love that deepens.
Threats of abandonment, retaliation, or non-participation can get another person to temporarily fall in line to satisfy the other’s demands while sacrificing their own. But, if that happens, martyrdom and resentments will follow. The sense of being in a relationship out of fear of loss does not create an atmosphere where love can continue to grow. If those feelings are ignored for too long, the relationship will fall apart.
Ultimate love can only sustain when both partners want the other to be the most alive, satisfied, intrigued, and committed to living, wherever that person can find that experience. All relationships go through difficult situations, but too many without resolution can leave lovers trapped in a lonely and meaningless partnership. True love may end with the ultimate sacrifice: “I love you enough to want you to be where you are the most fulfilled, even if it turns out not to be with me.”
Rule Number Nine – Never blame the other partner for what you cannot be, have, or achieve in your own life.
Perhaps it is a dark part of human nature to place accountability for unhappiness or failure away from oneself, but it is a disaster in a love relationship. People do look to their intimate partners as a source of stability, comfort, and safety, as well they should. But a person’s desires and hopes are not the responsibility of the other partner to fulfill.
Yes, one lover’s needs should be a high priority, but every desire expressed by one partner cannot always be automatically the goal of the other, no matter what the circumstances. No partner deserves to be automatically held accountable to meet them.