Important Tips for a Healthy, Non-Toxic Relationship

As featured at Digital Romance

Understand that I am the biggest advocate of keeping a relationship alive, but sometimes, defeat is inevitable. That defeat is usually the result of dishonesty (or uncertainty) on the part of one or both of the partners involved in the equation.

We have all gotten wrapped up in the endorphins that surge through our veins when we are in the passionate beginnings of a relationship—his hand touches yours, your eyes meet, and you get butterflies and tingles in places other than your stomach. It’s hard not to put all of your focus on those yummy feelings, so you might forget to keep an eye out for the red flags and non-negotiables that keep trying to get your attention.

Some of the most common non-negotiables to cause relationships to crumble, are differences in opinion surrounding:

  • children
  • religion
  • spending
  • long-term goals

Churches have been doing it for eons, but did you know that premarital counseling is available to the public as well? Do the masses take advantage of such guidance? Of course not. Just like most six or 13-year-olds, the majority of us think we know everything. Unfortunately though, the divorce rate seems to call “bull-crap” on our all-knowing abilities.

The failings in my first two marriages were not cookie-cutter, but there were some general commonalities:

  • I confused great sex with true love;
  • I believed who they said they were;
  • I believed the goals they said they had in common with mine;
  • I did not know they were both pathological liars; and
  • I was unaware of their uncontrollable spending habits.

I, unlike most women, knew that it was not my place (nor my right) to attempt to change either of them. I loved who they sold themselves as—and the goals they claimed to have. However, the other commonality was that I stayed in both toxic relationships because I kept waiting for us to “go around the corner.” I pacified my concerns with endless thoughts of, “It will all get better once he/we…” I spent years living with false hope.

The most important thing I did before heading down the road toward coupledom, and committing to my third marriage (my “forever-marriage”), is that I took my time learning about who I was, and what/who I wanted. It would have been very easy to fall into the sack with any nice smelling guy who drove a shiny convertible, but I didn’t want that. I wanted a relationship based on honesty, trust, respect, and common ground. I was firm on that. Mind you, butterflies and electricity would have also been welcome. Wink-wink!

Seven-plus years into my forever-marriage, I will come clean and say that it’s not all a bed of roses—there have been some nasty thorns too. The thorns have often felt unbearably sharp, and seemed to overshadow the beauty of the roses, but we came out on the other side each time, and healed the wounds together.

Seven-plus years into my forever-marriage, I still get butterflies in all the right places. The slightest touch of his hand against any exposed skin on my body and I turn into a puddle of goo. I’m sure it’s uncommon for a physical response like that to last for so many years. I personally never felt any butterflies past the first month or two in my other relationships, so you can imagine that I am thrilled for having found my Kryptonite.

Whether you’re in a new relationship, looking for one, or fighting a daily battle to keep one alive, it’s never too late for some serious analysis of the non-negotiables. Forget the little things like the lack of toothpaste cap or toilet seat etiquette—get down and dirty about the truth of the speed bumps in your current or past relationships.

This process will take some true self-honesty, so if you feel you can’t do it on your own, don’t feel ashamed to seek outside help. It’s not always necessary to pay someone $200 an hour to be asked, “How did that make you feeeel?” Depending on what your challenges are, sometimes just talking to a friend (who is not emotionally attached to your love life) can offer you some sage guidance.

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