The key to love is respect and patience
Romantic love is impossible to maintain over time.
The romantic side of the equation depends almost completely on the emotions. Romance is typically huge — the ups and downs are dramatic, and exhausting.
Long term relationships, on the other hand, depend on the gifts of respect and patience, which are aspects of the body/mind.
I would like to suggest to you that our minds work in two decidedly different ways. The way that leads to trouble is our mind’s tendency to shift ‘off task,’ typically by moving from the present moment to the past or the future.
The processes of judging and worry, for example, are brain activities— rooted, respectively, in the past and in the future.
Now, this seems to fly in the face of the quote, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” This is not what I’m suggesting. Remembering the past is all about data collection—and we collect data so that things ‘work’—it’s the same as understanding why we change the oil in a car. Remembering to change the oil is something we do—I cannot imagine judging this as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
Judging is taking a present situation, and rating it on a ‘good‐bad,’ ‘right‐wrong’ scale. The odd part about judging is that it is an activity complete in itself. Having a judgement is an internal process, and the only thing that happens, as far as I can see, is that people become judgemental jerks. The world stays the same, and the people who are expert at judging are people who stay stuck in the process or right and wrong. And, of course, they are quite self‐righteous.
The same is true of worry. Worriers are thinking about the future and making themselves anxious—they literally become ‘sick with worry.’ Here is the entire process. Think—worry—nothing.
If you are observant, you will see that the missing ingredient in past and future ruminations is any activity in the present. The point of remembering the past is to make better choices in the present. The point of future planning is to make better choices in the present.
As we endlessly repeat, the only place you can do anything is in this present moment.
So, let us have a look at respect and patience.
Respect is recognizing and celebrating the worth of someone. It is impossible to respect someone for what he or she is going to do or be, some day, if all is well and “the creek don’t rise.”
Respect is acknowledging the worth of another person.
Patience is the understanding that all I can do right now is what I can do right now. Patience is the ability to be present with things, situations, and people—while fully grasping that everyone and everything is a changing process.
A process is something that is complete at every stage, while at the same time is moving with time toward a state of ‘more complete.’
This is a difficult concept. Think about building a bridge. At every stage, what is completed—say, setting the pylons into the river—is ‘complete’ as each step progresses. When they are digging the hole, that’s it—they are digging. Then, mixing concrete. Then, pouring concrete. Each step is, in its moment, a whole.
In terms of its ‘bridgeness’ each step is a part of that process.
In terms of a loving relationship, then: I wonder why I would be in relationship with someone I did not respect. Yet this seems to be the norm. Clients, friends, most people seem to find their partner in some way lacking, and then the “advice giving” starts.
Respect is accepting and admiring someone for who they are today.
One has no sense of needing to fix the other person, because how they are is how they are. And respect is closely related to our other word, patience, because I recognize that my partner is a human process, not a fixed object.
Patience is thus all about relaxing into the reality of change.
No matter how much of a fixed agenda I have for someone—a partner, a client, a friend—they are going to change, and that change will be at their own pace, and in their own way (or direction.) Just like me.
I am not here to direct the path of anyone except myself.
I have little or no influence over anyone other than myself. It has taken me years to learn what I know, and the process continues. It is the same for everyone, and what I know likely does not mesh with the process of another.
Each life is a process. As I choose whom to engage with, I can do little else but watch. And if I am wise, I watch from a place of presence, respect and patience.
Coupled with this is my favourite hard and fast rule—
I always speak the truth, as I know it in this moment, and I expect (but cannot demand) the same from my partner.
There is only one way to determine a person’s (including myself) truthfulness. I look at how well what they say they do matches with what they actually do. If, for example, someone tells me she is working on her personal growth, and yet continues to engage in the same dysfunctional behaviours (while hauling out all kinds of excuses for why they are stuck) I question her honesty.
Saying something and actually doing it are two entirely different things.
My respect for someone, then, it directly tied up in my sense that they have integrity—that what they say and what they do lines up. That being said, it is not my job to endlessly try to get others to live up to their words. It is my job to endlessly live up to mine.
Have a look at your loving relationships. How much time do you spend criticizing, berating, correcting or nudging your partner into doing things your way? How much admiration and respect do you have for your partner? Is it conditional on their behaving the way you want them to, or do you respect them for who they are, right now?
How patient are you, with their path, and with your own? Do you allow yourself to see the perfection of each stage in the walk, or are your eyes focused on the past or the future? Do your partner’s words match their actions?