What kinds of relationships have you created over the years? Many of us have followed a predictable pattern: marrying in our 20s, children in our 20s and 30s, focus on family and community relationships until the kids go off to work or university or marriage, then empty nesting and grandkids.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, I know of many people who reach their 60s and are aware that their relationships are not all they would like them to be. They would like to explore different kinds of relationships, or improve the ones they are in, yet feel confined to fulfilling traditional roles and acting in ways that are deemed “appropriate”. This idea is often adamantly supported by our children who don’t want to see mum or dad doing anything that upsets the status quo.
Unfortunately, this is all about outward appearances and has little to do with what actually works for each of us, yet “tradition” is what we are conditioned to adhere to. With over fifty percent of all marriages ending in divorce, and many people staying with their partners despite abuse, or addiction, or having grown apart, it’s clear holding onto what looks proper from the outside is not enough. I know of many people who have tried to make changes in their relationships but have lacked the information to be successful.
I have found 5 qualities that are present in all great relationships, whatever their form. These qualities can all be chosen and cultivated; I call them The Five Elements Of Intimacy.
1) The first element is Honour. To honour means to treat with regard. This applies to ourselves as well as our partner. Any time we are engaging in criticism or blame or negative self talk, we have moved away from honour. What if you honoured yourself and your partner in each moment for exactly who you are? This does not mean being a doormat. Rather it’s about doing what works for each of us and allowing our partners to do the same. It’s about not trying to change the other or make them into something we have decided they should be. Remember, no one wants to be someone else’s project
2) The second element is Trust. Trust is not blind faith. It’s about being willing to be aware of what your partner actually chooses and not expecting them to do something different. If they never put the toilet seat down, you can trust that they won’t do that. Then you know it’s necessary to check each time you go to use the facilities. The willingness to trust in ourselves and our partner takes us out of fantasy and “shoulds” and “what’s right” and creates a space of ease.
3) The third element is Allowance. Allowance is: everything is just and interesting point of view. This takes the judgement out of our relationships. When you remove judgement you are free to see what actually is, and you don’t have to go to the trauma/drama that so many relationships deteriorate into. Having allowance also takes you out of having to be the effect of what others do. It’s about moving away from taking things personally to a space of knowing that whatever another says or does is just about them.
4) The fourth element is Gratitude. Have you been actively grateful for your partner is today? Have you noticed that most of us are conditioned to see what is wrong rather than what is right about our selves and our partners? What if you took some time each day to be grateful for your partner? What might that change? The willingness to have gratitude takes us out of the polarities of love and hate, and right and wrong and creates a space where real joy is actually possible.
5) The fifth element is Vulnerability. Most people consider vulnerability a weakness, yet just the opposite is true. When you are willing to be vulnerable, you are willing to drop all of your barriers. This allows you to be aware of everything and receive everything. We think that barriers protect us, but actually they make us more of a target for others anger and judgment. With no barriers up there’s nothing for the other person to push against. The willingness to be vulnerable is a great asset to any relationship.
By choosing in incorporate these five elements of intimacy, you can create a great relationship, whatever the outward form. And, even if your partner isn’t on board with all of these, your choice to include them and be them will create huge changes in whatever relationship(s) you are in. Yes, these elements work with our kids and business relationships too!
What do you do to make your relationship work? What are your secrets to a great relationship? Tell us below.
This article was posted by our friends at Starts At Sixty, an online community for active adults over 60.