Posted by: GPK | 23.October.2009

What’s love got to do with it?

Your Friday GPK Challenge is to answer any or all of these questions…

How do you know if a person is “right” or “wrong” for you?  What is it BESIDES love, that makes a relationship work?  If you have to ask, are you missing something?

Hey folks.  It occurred to me that I get a lot of questions at my programs about relationship stuff.  I never held myself out as a relationship expert by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ve been divorced for 15 years, a single dad, some serious relationships along the way but I’m still single so it’s become obvious to me that I’m as clueless as anyone else.  But a dear, dear friend of mine – someone for whom I care a great deal and have a lot of respect for – came to me the other day with a perplexing challenge.  I’ll call him Bob.

Bob has known deep love and he’s committed wholeheartedly to the idea of partnership before.  Despite this, Bob’s relationships crumble.  Sometimes they crash and burn, sometimes they just sort of dwindle to a whisper.  I understand a great deal about the human dynamic but this particular situation – when a couple clearly cares very deeply for each other but it just doesn’t seem to be enough – this puzzles me.  I told Bob last night that I’d put the question to you folks.

My experience with audiences tells me that I’m not the first person to ask these questions and Bob’s not the first to need the answers!  I know I’ve wondered about them too.  Having a few answers would be very powerful indeed.

What are your thoughts?  Engage.  Think.  Share!

Peace and Gratitude,




  1. Rick WolslayerI would ask Bob if he had a long term vision for his relationships. Perhaps that is not present. Or perhaps he is looking for others to fill or be something in his life that can’t be fulfilled from the outside, but must be created from within. The feeling of being lovable, acceptable, or other such ‘states of mind’ are more of what we generate … Read Morefrom our own thinking and self-evaluations. I’ve heard it said that relationships are what we share of ourselves, instead of us looking to have others give us something that can’t be given.

    good question George… 🙂

    • Will pass those on to Bob. Thanks Rick! Certainly having a clue about the long run makes a lot of sense no matter what the endeavor!

  2. I’m by no means a relationship expert but after 23 years of marriage, 2 kids, job changes, moves, surgeries, etc., (the challenges of life) I might be able to speak on this topic a little. There are certain threads of truth I’ve found in common with the couples I know that have lasted the test of time. First, how we FEEL about each other rarely enters the equation. A mature relationship accepts the fact the feelings are fickle and can’t be trusted. Moods, attitudes and feelings will undoubtedly change over decades together. Sure, there is love, trust, commitment, happiness, etc., but there is also hate, anger, disappointment, and frustration. It’s about an agreement to consistently move forward together regardless of the “feeling of the day.”
    Successful marriages also go against the grain of everything our western society teaches us. Focus on growing yourself, love yourself first, know who you are and then you can know someone else…it all sounds good in theory but I have found only the opposite works. Give to someone else, unconditionally love someone else, grow and learn who you are together instead of separately…that’s what those cute old couples walking in the park, still holding hands after 50 anniversaries, will tell you.
    Society also tells couples to concern themselves with “perfect timing” or the relationship will be in jeopardy. “You must be settled in your career before a real relationship.” “You must be financially secure before having children.” “You should know each other inside and out before making a commitment like marriage.” I’m here to tell you your relationships are in jeopardy REGARDLESS of how many ducks you have in a row. Wisdom isn’t knowing or having perfect timing. Wisdom is knowing if the relationship is mature enough to handle growing the careers, getting married, having the children, and simply learning about each other. I believe the whole point of building a life together is navigating through those struggles without all the safety nets that well intentioned friends and self help books tell us.
    There is a myth out there that the people in successful long term relationships have just been lucky. They must have simply met the right person or they must not have had all the challenges or hardships that less fortunate broken up or unhappy couples have had. Again, I truly believe it’s those very challenges and often times of unhappiness that highlight a couples determination and unwavering choice to stick it out regardless of the situation or feelings involved. Each time my husband and I go through something negative and come out the other side, it’s actually the encouragement and comfort we build on to embrace the easy joyful times.
    I personally also have to mention that I believe (and understand that not everyone believes) that faith should play a forefront role in a relationship. There have been moments in time that only our commitments to God have held our commitments to each other in tact. Without that, it’s one less protection in place from the get go.
    Bottom line I think it comes down to what “options” you bring into the relationship. Is adjusting your future to include someone else an option? Is changing your mind an option? Is accepting that you won’t feel happy and in love 24/7 an option? Is accepting flexibility with your own plans and initial life dreams an option? Is consideration and sacrifice for another human being an option? Is turning “me” into “us” for as long as you live an option? What you answer might give insight to the future of your relationships. My last thought on how to make it work…”Be kind, make fun, say you’re sorry.”

    • This is the line that made me go “ah-ha” “It’s about an agreement to consistently move forward together regardless of the “feeling of the day.” ” I am not sure I’ve ever seen it put better then that!

      • I agree, Melissa. Beth did make a beautiful point. Thank you for posting!

  3. Beth, WOW! Great insight. Thank you for sharing those superb observations! Great fodder for thought, meditation, prayer, pondering, etc. Much, much appreciated. GPK

  4. What beside love makes a relationship work? Common goals. A desire between both parties to forge ahead together… no matter what… toward a future together. I am not sure either.
    I like what Rick says about asking Bob if he has a long term relationship vision or if he is myopic. Perhaps he needes a more clearly defined long term vision for his relationships. Maybe he doesn’t know how to do that… Maybe he is like the character Chandler on Friends who finds one little fault with a person… and decides to end it before it has a chance. Maybe, although he has committed to the idea of partnership in the past, he just is not capable of trusting and doing it again. Maybe he might consider stopping questioning so much and try living without the answers… Maybe, as Rilke put it… he is not ready to live the answers and he will gradually, without knowing it, live his way into the answers… like Beth did. This is tough.

    • Oh Man…. another great response. The idea of “living without the answers” is one that I have embraced many times. I embraced it wholeheartedly during my cancer treatment and I’m certain that it had a huge impact on my mindset and the quality of my life during that time. I may have been very sick but I was happy and positive and confident. I think that Bob could certainly embrace some of that in the social setting. None of us knows what tomorrow brings. Be it in business, parenting, relationships or whatever. We just don’t know. All we can do is choose how we see it and how we’ll respond to a thing. Applying that in a relationship is tough. Do you continue to commit to be positive and encouraging when it “costs” you a great deal of energy. It’s tough to do no matter how much you care about someone IF the idea keeps crossing your mind that perhaps it’s not “supposed” to be so hard. When the idea exists that there might be someone else out there who’s the “right” person for you. Many conflicting ideas. While I usually revel in the dichotomies life presents us, this one really makes me nuts! I think too much because I think too much! I’m really grateful to everyone for helping me with Bob’s question. It’s turned out to be very helpful for me too. We’ll see…

      • I guess if you find yourself questioning, (while you are with someone) if there is someone else out there who is the “right” person for you… then either the person you are with is NOT the right person OR you are not ready to commit to someone/anyone but especiall the one you are with OR you just are the type of person NOT to settle, NOT able to live the questions???

      • Thanks for another great point, Robin. In that context, I guess you’re ready when you’re ready. I always remember hearing that when the right person appears, you’ll know it. I just don’t know about that. Beth made some AWESOME points about it being a decision, etc. At the same time, as you say, if you’re not “feeling” it, you’re probably not “ready”. You’re ready when you’re ready and not a moment sooner. It’s a complicated combination of factors. When the right person meets the right person AND the chemistry is there AND you’re ready to take the leap AND it doesn’t make you too crazy AND…. So maybe it’s true after all, you just know when you know. Well, I guess this is why I haven’t written a book on relationships yet! 😉 Stay tuned, I ain’t done cookin’ yet! The Who sang “Don’t let go the coat!” Ben Franklin said “When you’re done learning, you’re done!” Lots yet to learn!

  5. I just want to say that Beth’s response was amazing! I need to read that again! Consider me the anti expert, but sometimes I think people are so scared of change because of the unknown that it hinders them moving forward in a relationship even if the other person is someone they feel very strongly about and love being with. Also, as beth said, expecting the situation to be “perfect”, which many people nowadays do, is unrealistic. The best part of a relationship is the adventure, the journey that can be shared with another person.

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