As we continue with our blog series, Choosing Love that Lasts, I want to encourage you in the importance of the work that you are doing related to your own personal identity. I truly believe that it is of supreme benefit to your future relationships to have a strong understanding of yourself and what you bring into a marriage. Combining that with a continual commitment to growth and change makes for a wonderful characteristic that lends itself more easily to the growth and change necessary for the lifelong process of marriage.
I hope you have found the previous posts and exercises to be helpful. If you are just joining in now, I would encourage you to go back to the beginning of this series and implement some of the ideas and action steps mentioned in previous posts.
With a greater understanding of yourself, your patterns and your core values, you are in a wonderful place to begin creating your Relationship Non-Negotiables. I feel like it is nearly impossible to create an accurate and complete list of non-negotiables without an awareness of core values, since the connection between what we place value on and what we must have to make a relationship work are interconnected.
Relationship Non-Negotiables are pretty much what the name implies: those things that you absolutely have to have in a relationship for it to work. This is not just one magic list that exists for all people (though we might be able to agree on a few things that would show up on most if not all people’s lists), but is your unique understanding of what you need to have to make your relationship successful. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your list:
I want to make an important point if you are already in a relationship with someone. The most ideal way to create your relationship non-negotiables is from an objective place, not within the context of a specific relationship. Do your best to take on the role of observer and step back from the specifics of your current relationship into a place of more general analyzing relationships as a whole. This is not to become a list of things you already know about your partner or want to demand that they become.
Ask yourself questions like:
What makes marriages work?
Who have I seen in my life that has a healthy marriage, and what characteristics were present that made it work?
Knowing what I know to be true about marriages, what components have to be present to make it successful?
Knowing what I know about myself, what specific foundational truths would have to be present to make my relationship successful?
What truths can I take from previous relationships that were or were not successful and apply to my future relationships?
What are the five most important things to me to have in my relationship?
Practice making your answers short and concise. This is the same principle that works for writing missions statements or vision statements for businesses: short, sweet and to the point. Take a number of qualities or truths that you’ve identified and see if you can find a more general, more universal way of stating it.
Now that you know what to do, begin creating your list and remember to have fun with it! It may take time and a number of edits to get it completed, but we are working on enjoying where we are in the process, so allow yourself the grace to develop along with your list.