Here in the United States this past week has been a painful reminder of how tensions, conflict, hurt feelings, faulty assumptions and a lack of compassion can lead to disastrous results. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the families who have been impacted by the terrible acts of violence.

Sadly our personal relationships are not immune from the kind of tension and discord that we see occurring in our communities. Even individuals in committed relationships who have declared undying love for each other can experience such major disagreement and conflict that it leaves them feeling as if they are sleeping with the enemy. Sometimes the scars run so deep that it interferes with the couple developing a lasting bond of intimacy and security.

A lasting, healthy love relationship requires commitment

A sheer belief in the sacredness of the commitment you have made is fundamental in helping you maintain your determination to keep trying even when you feel like giving up. Your commitment is not just to your partner; it is to an ideal, or a goal towards which you need to keep striving. Think of it as a process, your commitment is an ongoing choice that requires your intentional decision to continue to work to improve your relationship even in the tough times.

Focus on the why you are doing what you’re doing rather than on how difficult it seems. Instead of dwelling on your partner’s shortcomings, focus on the only thing that you are able to control – yourself. To guide your actions, ask yourself, “Are my words and actions in alignment with my commitment or are they in response to my feelings?” To ensure that your words and actions are in alignment with your commitment pause, step away from the situation and work out any negative feelings by engaging in physical activity such as going for a walk or a run or by taking a few moments to focus on breathing. After you are calm, refocus on the why and allow your commitment to the relationship to guide your choice of words and actions.

Taking the time to pause and to step away from the situation is beneficial in many ways. Not only does it provide you an opportunity to calm your emotions, but it also provides you with space to clear your mind so that you can think rationally and reconnect with the ideal and the hope of living, loving and working together in harmony.

Unavoidable hurts

Know that both you and your partner are incapable of loving without causing each other disappointment, anger or hurt. This is so because both of you are human and therefore imperfect. While being in an exclusive love relationship allows you the comfort of being with someone you trust and love, it also places you in a vulnerable position where your beloved has access to the most sensitive aspects of who you are. Sometimes deliberately, sometimes unwittingly you or your partner will say and or do something that cuts to the core. The instinctual response is either to hit back in retaliation or to pull away in an effort to shield self from further hurt.

Choosing to forgive when you have been hurt is difficult but necessary if you want your relationship to be healthy. When you forgive, you demonstrate goodwill, not necessarily because your partner deserves it, but because it is the only viable way of nurturing a strong cooperative partnership.

Managing inevitable disagreements in your relationship is possible. Accept your mate’s mere humanity and get rid of the belief that if he or she truly loves you, he or she wouldn’t hurt you. Communicate with your partner by sharing your concerns and be open to listen to their perspective. Your relationship will be healthier as you work through these uncomfortable issues thus reducing the likelihood of lingering resentment and misunderstanding.

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