2nd signal: you expect your partner to solve your problems
You would never make a lock without at the same time making a key to fit it. We must be the key maker: for the most part, we have to solve our problems on our own, for our own sake, for the sake of our experience, our self-confidence and our self-worth. All these qualities are things that we bring to our relationships.
Our partner is not there to solve our problems. That’s our job. Our partner is there to stand by us whatever happens, to support us, to motivate us and to keep our heads above water.
We can manage our problems as long as we have the right support. Then we will understand two facts:
- that problems are like an ugly, dusty chest, hiding a wonderful treasure – the source of our strengthening;
- that problems do not weaken a good relationship but strengthen it, because both partners suddenly realise how useful they are to the other, and that they themselves are not weak.
3rd signal: you expect the relationship to be rosy and simple
There is no relationship that is problem-free. Problems are the spice of life and a test of your ability to live together.
A long relationship is a miracle, if we consider human behaviour to be a miracle. A long relationship is a fairy tale, if we consider everyday work to be a fairy tale. A long relationship is like every other type of success – except that it requires two people to meet, who together are able to identify everything that does not work, to find out why and then gradually to solve and repair it all.
Creating a functional relationship is very difficult. Particularly because the most important elements are not those times when two people understand each other and take the other by the hand, but instead those times when they do not understand each other, but continue on together. Because they want to. Because they need to. Because they believe. Because they are always working at it. In my book 250 Laws of Love I describe how.
What seemingly innocent sins can ruin a relationship?
4th signal: you allow your partner’s trust to be controlled by fear
A relationship is like a fertile flowerbed. Whatever we plant in it will grow. If we plant doubt, the fruits we will harvest will be presumptions, distrust, separation.
As I write in my book, trust means giving someone another chance to hurt us, while at the same time hoping that they will not. Many people think that the term hurt only covers unfaithfulness, but even what appears to be “more innocent” behaviour can weaken or destroy trust – lying, concealing, outbursts, occasional aggression.
As soon as one partner stops believing the other, the relationship is really at an end. No relationship can exist without trust. This is why I put so much emphasis on communication – the open clarification of what bothers us about the other person. It is not a question of complaining about or erecting barriers between each other, but of coming closer together, of understanding each other.
Fear, like any negation, can easily expand. It pushes all the good things out of your mind. The mere idea that we are losing our partner, that we no longer attract or satisfy them, that they might be going in another direction, is self-destructive. Our fear lights the fuse of a time bomb.
5th signal: you are unhealthily secretive
Sincerity doesn’t mean saying everything we think, but when we do say something it must be true. That is sincerity.
Someone who loves does not want to hurt their partner by word or deed. Paradoxically, it is the words that remain unsaid and the secretive deeds that cause the greatest pain in a relationship.
We should realise that, even if something happens that is totally innocent – such as receiving a text message in the middle of the night and being asked by our partner who is texting us – we have our finger on the trigger. Whether we answer truthfully, or refrain from answering, our partner may start to make assumptions in their own virtual world where we are unfaithful to them.
Keeping silent is no guarantee of peace. An end to arguments does not necessarily mean understanding. I honestly don’t mind periods in a relationship when my partner argues with me, but I do mind those periods when they stop arguing. This means they can no longer see anything worth arguing about.
Our imagination is treacherous in that it does not rely on objective facts. It doesn’t matter whether or not we are unfaithful. What matters is how we see it.
It is irrelevant whether we think our partner is being stupid. There is never one winner and one loser in a relationship, but always two winners, or two losers.
This is why I keep repeating: We have to communicate. We must be honest. We must clarify each misunderstanding. We have to understand that our minds work out the truth on the basis of the available facts. If these facts are incomplete, the truth as it appears to the mind of our partner may be less than objective. But it will still be their truth.
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