Are you looking for a romantic partner to rescue you from unhappiness? Do you believe that your happiness is in the hands of someone else? I can’t tell you how many times I have heard men and women, gay and straight, speak of finding someone to make them happy—as if happiness lies outside of themselves. There is a way out of this quandary and that is to be content with yourself just the way you are now.
When you are at peace with yourself, you will have peace in your heart with anyone. That is the anchoring root that gives stability to the relationship. Then you will not feel a need to be rescued by that cute face across the room.
I have a huge weeping willow tree in my front yard, and I have often thought how that tree compares to a romantic relationship. For one thing, flexibility is essential. The tree needs to bend when the strong winds blow.
I recall looking out the window during one of those ferocious thunderstorms that shook the whole house. I watched as the upper branches of the weeping willow whipped from side to side like streamers. Yet in spite of the chaotic gyrations of the upper branches, the tree has a strong trunk with deep roots that gave it stability.
How are the foundational roots of your relationships? Have you taken the time to develop relational roots yet? Some individuals go through romantic partners so quickly they do not give themselves the time to establish those roots. You really can’t have commitment without some sort of a foundation. What is your relationship based on? Do you and your partner agree on the answers? Have you even talked about it yet?
If the two of you are just getting to know each other, one way to find out the level of your partner’s commitment is to see if he or she keeps small promises. This simple trait is at the heart of a relational foundation and it can often be detected surprisingly early on.
Sometimes a person cannot help but break a promise once in a blue moon. However, if your partner has never kept even one promise, then pardon my rudeness when I ask, “Why the hell are you still together?” I mean, really? You can only ignore the problem for so long. One nasty side effect of sticking your head in the Sands of Denial Beach is that your butt gets sunburned.
The weeping willow tree is also nurturing. It gives off oxygen and provides a habitat for nesting birds. Additionally, the tree is part of a larger community of trees. It is beautiful just for being itself without competing with others. Likewise, having a caring attitude can improve all your relationships—romantic or otherwise.
Listening is one of the best ways to show that you care. Keep in mind that healthy caring is reciprocal. There needs to be a sense of balance and equality. If there is a problem that needs working out, try talking to your partner when both of you are calm and ready. Learn how to resolve conflict with a win/win style.
Remember that your life partner cannot meet all your emotional and social needs. Just as trees have the forest, you need friends and community involvement outside of your primary relationship. It is too much to expect your partner to be your everything. Your partner cannot “make” you happy. Only you can foster that long-term happiness within yourself. No one else can do it for you. Your partner is not there to save you from your emotions.
In many a counseling session, I have listened to clients express the expectation that their husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend must make them happy. “It’s his job to make me happy!” or, “She’s the reason I’m so miserable.” These are comments made by people who, quite frankly, do not want to take responsibility for their own feelings. They need to own their attitudes.
Today’s Loving Suggestions: Just like the weeping willow tree, when relational storms come along—and they always do—bend, but don’t break. Be flexible and adapt to the inevitable changes. Accept the fact that everything grows and transforms over time. If the tree can adapt to change while still being nurturing, so can you.
If you have followed any of the suggestions in the Sir Rennity feature, I would love to hear your stories. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will keep your letters private unless you request that they be published.
The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.