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How to Make a Relationship Work

Arthur and Samatha are going at it again. It's hard to watch from the outside, because it's obvious they love each other, and obvious that they're quite compatible. They've both been divorced, though, so they're leery, and what they're doing is finding sore points 'even manufacturing them, instead of enjoying each other.

But you don't like opera,' says Samantha, 'and you want to live in the country. How could we get married?'

I know,' counters Arthur, 'you like ''

It's like the old song, 'you say' to MAY to' and I say 'to MAH to.' How can love survive?' The song makes a very good point with humor. The couple in the song is seriously debating whether they're meant for each other when they pronounce a word differently.

Arthur and Samantha are doing the same thing, and if they don't watch out, they're going to talk themselves out of a lovely relationship, one that could really work.

The art of being wise,' said William James, 'is the art of knowing what to overlook.'

When couples first date and fall in love, the emphasis is all on the things they have in common. Often you feel like you've discovered your very own, and one and only, soul-mate, and the blending and compatibility are marvelous. The rush of those yummy love-chemicals has something to do with this; after all, we can of 'lose our minds' in love, for a while. Then nerves can set in, as you start to get serious about each other, and you start to get analytical. And what can stand up under constant analysis? Not a loving relationship!

Analyzing how you're doing is a sure way to kill a good relationship. It's better to focus on how you're feeling at the moment, and stay in the moment. When you start questioning how things are going to be in the future, and feed it with memories of past horror stories, you're sacrificing the real for the unreal.

When you think about it, anything could happen in the future, and many things will happen that you couldn't possibly predict. It's likely the things you're imagining (he'll be unfaithful, she'll turn into a nag) will never happen, and things you could never imagine will happen, so there's really no use in playing it out too far into the future.

The important things to know about are how this person makes you feel, and if your values and attitudes toward marriage match, and a match of energy-level is nice, but even that can change over time. Whether they are a morning-person or a night-person, whether you share every interest in common, and which way he/she thinks the toilet paper should unroll are not important in the long run. Those are things TO overlook, and things you will HAVE to overlook if you're going to live with someone else.

Relationships do take work, and you need someone else who understands this concept, but that doesn't mean you have to go looking for trouble, or misinterpreting what 'work' means. The work of a relationship is being understanding and forgiving, overlooking unimportant things, and being positive and loving; it's not about picking the relationship apart, finding fault, catastrophizing, or talking it to death. Live it; don't analyze it.

The title of this article has a double meaning. You can turn something pleasant and fun into work if you want to, but I recommend remembering that dating is supposed to be fun and love is supposed to feel good! There's so much written these days about relationships, you might even get the impression they're difficult, so if you're getting along and having a good time something must be wrong. Give yourself permission to go with a good thing, and give you and your partner credit for basically knowing what to do. You're together, aren't you?

You don't need to figure out with your head whether you belong together; in fact your head can get in the way and mess up a good thing. Your heart tells you, if you quiet the analysis, and listen to it.

Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, the coach for you. Results-oriented coaching, distance learning, ebooks. Training and certification for EQ coaches. Learn EQ from the expert.

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