Are You "Ready For Love" ?

North Americans spend millions, if not billions, of dollars every year in pursuit of a satisfying, fulfilling intimate relationship.

Yet many fail repeatedly in their quest because they forget the first most important step.

They do not determine their own "readiness for love." Whether you are single at present and pursuing, or you are in a relationship that is not as satisfying as you dream it could be, I have a time tested strategy that will work to make you ready for the relationship fulfillment you long to create in your life.

These lessons are based upon my own journey into intimacy. They also reflect over 25 years of working in therapy with many brave souls.  I have truly enjoyed working with straight and gay couples who have trusted me with their difficulties and shared in the joy of realizing a deeply enriched relationships.

My discovery of this strategy began with my work as a therapist of couples whose relationships had endured an affair. I marveled at the success many, although not most, had in recovering from the trauma of an affair. Literally, they taught me what is required for truly intimate and loving relationships. I have made available freely to those interested a web site that details the stages of recovery to the trauma of an affair. In the past four years, over 200,000 people have passed through this web site "After the Affair."    Their journey to recovery is chronicled at this site through a wealth of postings to the discussion forums..

The lessons learned from those courageous souls who faced the skepticism of family and friends and stayed together apply to all relationships.

Recovery is only the first step, however. To transform one's relationship into one of bliss, or to create the opportunity to begin a relationship that could be described as blissful, requires concerted effort and the strategies outlined below.

Are You Ready For Love?

It is often said, that to begin any journey, one must take the first step. No less is true of the romantic journey. Are you willing to take the first step? These strategies require a deeply thought out and honest answer. Each of the four strategies require a willingness on your part to proceed. If you are waiting for a relationship, these strategies will simply not work. If you are willing to create a relationship, then read on.

Are you willing to take responsibility for yourself?

A seemingly simple question! Yet when faced with life circumstances that are not up to our expectations, we quickly look to blame some one or some thing. Especially in our intimate relationships, blame does not promote the conditions required for problem solving and then resolution and deepened intimacy. Blame always pushes our partner away. We are each responsible for our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Learning to bring this level of accountability to our relationship is a required step for intimacy.

Are You willing to Keep Your agreements?

Relationships, especially the one with our intimate partner, depend on "being able to count on my partner." However, we get into very complicated, even impossible, agreements. Take "I'll love you forever." In all honesty, such an agreement is beyond the capacity of anyone I know. I may do my best to be loving all the time, especially to my partner. but I am sometimes quite "unloving" in my behaviour. And certainly quite a bit of the time I think of loving myself above all others. In fact, psychologists point out how essential it is to love ourselves above all others to be emotionally healthy. So agreements need to be based on observable behaviour and time limited. All the rest are intentions. Nothing wrong with intentions, but one must be clear of the difference. If I don't "always" follow through on my intentions, I haven't breached my agreement or integrity. The other advantage of learning to base agreements on behaviour is that there will be increased possibility that the two partners will agree on what actually happened. Many ongoing disputes result from an unclear agreement that results in a dispute on whether the agreement was broken.

Are You Willing to Be Known

So many relationships fall into a rut because one or both partners stop using the relationship as the place to learn about who they are, to express themselves, to grow. Yet why be in it if it isn't the safest place to experiment, to journey? This strategy requires us to look first into our own level of self expression before complaining that our partner has "gone away." Very often, in couple counselling, when one partner begins to risk telling his or her truth again, the partner responds with openness to the new opportunity for enriching their relationship. When a person stops growing, they become very boring. when a relationship stops growing, it also becomes a bore.

Are You Willing to Know Your Partner

There is a  joke about marriage that suggests that after we marry someone for "who they are", we can commence making them into who we want them to be. Many first counselling sessions reveal how the very traits that attracted people to each other are the source of the current conflict. These people are upset because their partner didn't change into what they wanted. The nerve of them to pursue their own path! Any relationship that aspires to deep intimacy must be able to allow the separate journey of each partner. This balance of the known and the unknown is the mystery of true intimacy.

Enjoy the dance!

Keith Marlowe, Reg. MFT