N for Neighbourly
The one subject that all religions agree upon is the subject of “love”.
“Love thy neighbour as thy selves. Do unto others as you wish to be done unto you” i.e. loving, accepting, respecting others for who they are and not imposing your own views and values on them. However, you’ve got to be able to love yourself first, before you can love anyone else.
Why do people demonstrate more love and respect for their neighbours or pets than for their partners? Why do people take their partners and children for granted and exhibit more love, respect and care for other people’s partners and children?
Your partner, children and immediate family are your first neighbours to whom you must demonstrate your love.
It doesn’t make any sense being nice, polite and kind to your colleagues at work, or members of your religious sect, or strangers or other people in general, while ill-treating, bad mouthing and abusing your family. That is an inappropriate, ill-placed and false display of affection. It simply implies that you do not have real love in your heart for yourself, or for your family, or for the outsiders that you show a display of love to.
Review your priorities and start loving your immediate neighbours, i.e. yourself first, then your spouse and children.
Charity begins at home.
O for Opposites
That’s probably what attracted you to your partner. Now that you are in a relationship with someone who has opposite characteristics and habits compared to yours, don’t decide to change them to become like you or to be the way you’d like them to be. It’s their difference from you that has attracted you to them in the first place.
Very often you’ll find couples whereby one is meticulous and the other is untidy, one is shy while the other is very outgoing, one is a morning person while the other is a night owl. You need to accept one another for who you are.
When you live together, you will need to come to some form of compromise, which is the basis of relationships.
Reaching a compromise differs from being forced to change and alter one’s personality because one partner imposes their views upon the other or wants to control the other.
Be wary about losing your personality and forgetting who you are because of your partner or the type of relationship you are in.
The differences and diversities in your personalities, preferences and views of life form the basis of the strength of your relationship.
P for Patience
Patience is a virtue.
If you didn’t have the virtue of patience before you entered into a relationship, here’s an opportunity for you to cultivate it.
Patience is taking time out to think, reflect and ponder over matters before reacting.
Patience is responding with calm, objectivity and most importantly with empathy and love.
Patience is never losing your temper, never being rude and never being cruel.
Patience is listening and really hearing your partner and children. In fact, this characteristic solves many immediate crises.
Patience is being forgiving and being ready to forgive over and over and over again.
Q for Quagmire
No relationship is perfect, because no one is perfect. As a result, you will experience difficulties in your individual lives and in your relationships.
Everyone has problems, be you rich or poor, black or white, educated or illiterate, religious or agnostic, straight or gay.
Every couple has their ups and downs, be it a love relationship or an arranged relationship.
What is important is not the problem, but the attitude you adopt towards your difficulties, the time frame in which you resolve your problem, your approach to resolving it and what you learn from it in order not to make the same mistakes again.
Adopt the attitude that there’s a logical and peaceful solution to this problem.
Decide on a time frame to act on solving the problem, be it two hours, two days or two weeks depending on the problem. Never leave a problem to fester for too long.
Situations between couples should be brought out into the open within hours with an immediate plan for resolving it.
Couples must never ever go to bed with anger on their minds or with an unresolved conflict. The bed is for peaceful slumber and never for raging internal wars.
Adopt a forgiving nature.
R for Romance
Never let romance die in your relationship.
Romance and the element of surprise is the fun in relationships. A romantic partner and one who makes you laugh all the time, makes a relationship worth all the work.
Find ways of rekindling the romance in your relationship. Romance doesn’t have to be anything expensive or hard: breakfast in bed, a foot massage while you crack jokes, a walk in the park, skinny dipping, joining your partner for a session or two at their exercise class and having fun while at it or just clowning about till you get kicked out.
Doing the shopping, cooking and cleaning for a change. Watching a football match or a soap with your partner for a change. Spice up your days with notes, cards, text messages, picture messages, emails, tweets and other forms of social medias. Take a weekend or weekday away.
The list is endless. Use your imagination. Try out new things every week. Wear sexy appealing clothes and underwear. Vary your sex life. Be adventurous, in and out of the bedroom.
Keep your relationship alive with lots of romance. It’s the bedrock of relationships.
It keeps you young, it keeps you alive, it makes you feel loved.
Nothing beats loving someone and being loved in return.
S for Submission
Relationships are partnerships: a partnership with the goal of forming a solid, long lasting, peaceful environment in which you can grow and fulfil yourself. In order to achieve this goal, each partner must submit to one another’s cause.
A relationship partnership is an equal partnership with differing roles. It’s not a partnership with one superimposing their force and beliefs on the other, just because they can.
Submitting to your partner doesn’t mean you are a fool or a push over. Nor is it an opportunity to take advantage of your partner or to allow yourself to be taken advantage of. It is one of mutual respect, appreciation and assistance for each other in your respective roles as you choose to have it.
Leave your egos behind and agree to disagree.
No one is right and no one is wrong, you are simply you and your partner is simply who they are.
T for Truth
A successful relationship is based on truth: Personal truth and honesty. The truth of who you really are. The truth of why you are in this relationship. The truth of if this relationship is working for you. The truth of if this is the right relationship for you.
A relationship based on lies will eventually show cracks and will crumble, unless those cracks are sealed with the truth.
You need to be true, first and foremost to yourself then be open and honest about what needs to be known in your relationship.
Not everything needs to be displayed in a relationship, but whatever is pertinent that should be known, must be told. If the truth of your past is pertinent in the relationship, then it must be told.
Don’t use the “truth” to offload your guilt unto to your partner. That is unfair. Offload your guilt unto your priest or your psychologist.
Lies are a burden; the truth will set you free.
U for Union
A relationship is union of formidable strength. The force of two is not two times stronger, but ten times stronger than the force of one.
A weak person can find strength, support and warmth in their partner. A united force has a better standing against an intruder. A combined strength can achieve more than a single person.
However, when the union starts to disintegrate, you lose your power and force. That’s why it is pertinent that you keep intruders out of your relationship from causing divisions within your relationship.
Division causes you to become weak and either party can be easily persuaded to do things they wouldn’t normally do. Stay united at all times.
Enjoy the privilege of a united force.
V for Vows
A vow is an outspoken promise taken on oath to abide by what you say you will do.
A number of people recite vows because they know it by heart, or repeat it after someone as per tradition or say what their partners would love to hear them say. Others say what they truly mean.
Where’s the integrity of marriage vows these days? Re-think your vows. Were they true when you took them or did you say them for peace sake, or were you too young to understand what you were doing?
Are you abiding by your vows or have your circumstances changed? Are your vows as true to you and you partner today as they were when you first took them?
Review your vows and review your life. You may need to retake your vows and make them true, honest and just for you and your partner for your current situation. You don’t have to have a ceremony for that purpose, just something personal between the two of you.
W for Warmth
A relationship should be a cosy place of warmth and not a hammer house of horror.
A relationship should be something you look forward to coming home to and not something that makes you apprehensive about going home to.
A relationship should be a safe-haven and not a battleground.
What is your relationship like? If it isn’t warm and cosy, why isn’t it?
Is this the way you like your relationship or would you like it otherwise?
What can you do to change things?
Have you and your partner communicated your feelings to one another to promote a warm and healthy environment for your relationship?
The responsibility rests with you both. For you to get heat, you must put in some coal, light up the fire and fan it.
A warm and cosy relationship takes positive thinking and positive effort.
X for eXpress
You ought to be able to express yourself truthfully and honestly at all times, more so in a relationship.
You shouldn’t play games or manipulate your partner. A lot of couples tend to play games with one another, exaggerating their needs in order to get the attention they want or suppressing their emotions for the fear of being judged or punished, or simply acting the “I’m capable of everything” role whilst they are gradually breaking down.
At the beginning of relationships, partners tend to be on their best behaviours, acting appropriately, emitting the right sounds at the right time and acting right on cue. How long can you keep up the pretentious acting? Eventually your true self will emerge and it is not usually very nice.
By this time, it is often too late and you are both deep into the relationship. So you hang in the relationship, hoping and praying your partner will change to the originally loving and romantic partner you met.
Now that your true selves have emerged, you’ll need to revaluate your relationship. You need to learn about one another over again and accept one another’s real nature and character.
Don’t lose yourself. Don’t lose your personality. Be real.
With love, patience an accepting and forgiving attitude, you can start your relationship afresh on true expressions.
Y for whY
A million dollar question! Why are you in this relationship?
Is it because you want to conform to the norm?
Is it for a sense of security?
Is it in order to gain ownership and control over your partner?
Do you think getting married would make you happier?
Do you think by living with your partner or marrying your partner or having children, you will be able to change your partner into what you want them to be?
Or do you think this would give you more hold over your partner?
Do you really understand the reality of commitment?
Are you prepared for the long haul and the ups and downs of marriage or a permanent commitment?
Whatever your reasons, you need to be absolutely honest with yourself in order to have a sense of direction for your life as well as your relationship.
Love goes a long way in sustaining a good relationship, but it’s not enough, it requires the willingness to make it work.
Relationship is like a business partnership. It requires commitment, dedication, honesty, common goals, direction and hard work.
Z for Zen
Everyone needs a period of quiet in his or her day: A time to call your own, to be away from everything, the television, radio, your children, your partner and even yourself.
A time to let your spirit float.
A time to be completely relaxed and to be alone with your thoughts.
A time for quiet reflection.
For a morning person, your quiet-time may be in the morning. Wake up a little earlier than the rest of the household to be by yourself. Create a space in your house, just for that. It may be your bedroom, or bathroom, or kitchen, or study or the garden. Find and create your space. Place something special of yours that you cherish in there or take it in there each time you go there. It may be a candle, a flower, a picture or an ornament. Choose whatever you like.
Similarly for a night person, find some time to be by yourself for ten to thirty minutes in your day. It may be at a park on your way home from work. Or even in the car.
Spend this time being quiet and finding your centre.
Answers to questions and solutions to problems that you have pondered over for some time, come to you in your period of quietude and solitude. It’s also a healthy way of de-stressing and starting afresh.
Respect one another’s time out.
‘Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you along with all badness.
But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you”.
Look out for other ABC Series:
ABC of Self
ABCs to Connections
ABCs to Avoid