No one wakes up one morning and says, "Honey, let's get married, have children, go in debt, get a divorce and be lonely the rest of our lives!" But the truth remains, nearly 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. And who is to say the happiness level of the other half that remain married.
You do not want just any relationship – you want the right one!
We are relational beings created to connect with others. We are hard-wired for love, attention, and affection. Studies show that much of our life's well-being is directly linked to the satisfaction and success of the relationships we have with our partner, children, and co-workers. Yet, little time, if any, is taken to learn about the very subject that so often determines our day to day happiness.
The 5 C's
Chemistry, Connection, Compatibility, Communication, Commitment
A healthy relationship is like an award winning cake recipe. It takes several key ingredients to make it successful. Leave out one ingredient or sacrifice the quality of the ingredients and as hard as you try to make it work, it will never be a prize-winning cake. The same holds true in relationships.
Studies have shown that happy couples share certain relationship components, or ingredients. The more components you share the greater your odds in experiencing a successful relationship. It takes the right couple to experience chemistry and the right combination of ingredients like connection, compatibility, communication, and commitment to make a stable, healthy, long-term relationship.
Norepinephrine, dopamine, and phenylethylamine are chemicals called neurotransmitters. These transmitters, when released, produce feelings of euphoria, excitement, and elation.
When you meet someone who is attractive to you, your brain triggers a response to release these "feel good" chemicals. In fact, MRI scans of the brain showed that when men and women were shown pictures of their romantic partners, areas of the brain rich in dopamine "light-up". In addition, the same area did not light up when the same subjects were shown pictures of their friends. (If he is telling you he just wants to be friends then he is telling you that you are not the one turning him on, literally.)
Chemistry occurs early in the relationship. It is exciting and intense but unfortunately it is short-lived. Over time, normally lasting between a few weeks to several months, the body develops a tolerance to the neurotransmitters causing the physical passion to decline.
Chemistry is a powerful mutual attraction that brings two people together. And although it is a very important ingredient, chemistry alone is not an indicator of a good relationship. As awesome as chemistry feels, it is not a determining factor in selecting Mr. Right. If you make the mistake of allowing chemistry to be the final factor in determining whether to pursue or not to pursue the new man in your life, you might be disappointed in your relationship.
You could call this "old people love". When you connect with your partner on an emotional level your relationship is secure, thoughtful, mature, warm, and familiar. And the longer you are with your partner the deeper your connection.
As a couple, a man and a woman must have an emotional connection. The connection has absolutely nothing to do with sex and everything to do with how you make the other person feel when they are around you. Is your partner comfortable, happy? Can you trust one another with your thoughts, feelings, and desires?
A man must know that a woman is trustworthy and feel that she is authentic and real before he will open his heart and emotionally connect with her. Likewise, he must also possess the ability to connect with you and meet your emotional needs.
A man who is emotionally mature is a man who is capable of expressing his thoughts, feelings, and concerns. He is sensitive to your needs, supports you in a crisis, and is there when you need him. On the other hand, a man who is emotionally immature will minimize your feelings, ignore your needs, and will be inconvenienced when you need his help.
Opposites might attract but it does not necessarily make them good life partners. To be compatible means to be like minded. When it comes to relationships you need to be compatible in key areas. You need to be like-minded in your basic thoughts, ideas, and values. When you are compatible, your likeness draws you closer. When you are incompatible, your differences drive you apart. Does this mean you need to share everything in common? Absolutely not. However, there is less conflict when you share common thoughts concerning:
Financial disagreements will kill your chemistry and short-circuit your connection. One person can not be frugal while the other actively acquires debt.
For the most part, men are afraid of getting hosed in relationships. Let's say Mr. Right has dated and courted you for many months. He has taken you to dinner, the movies, and bought you gifts on special occasions. The last thing he wants to do is fall in love with a woman who accepts his gifts and then charges a designer handbag on a credit card at 19.99%. If you get married, he is thinking he may very well have to pay for your Coach bag!
Likewise, if you live on a budget while Mr. Wonderful buys drinks for everyone knowing his credit cards are charged to the max then your relationship is already on shaky ground.
Successful couples report their partner as their best friend. A friend is someone you know and trust. You share affection, time, and common interests. Friends support one another in the good times and the bad. This does not mean he spends all his time with you and that he never gets to play golf, go fishing, or play poker with the guys. It does mean while he is hanging out with the guys he can not wait to get home and see you at the end of the day.
Likewise, while you are at work, spending time with family, or out shopping with the girlfriends you too can not wait to get home to him.
Sense of humor
If you can find a partner you can laugh with then you have found something special. There is nothing more attractive and appealing to a man than a woman who has a sense of humor. If you can maintain the laughter and keep the conversation going in the weeks, months, and years to come, then you will not only have captured his attention, you will have captured his heart.
You may share a bed and good sex, but if you do not share basic core values you will not share much of anything else. Both partners in a relationship possess the ability to compromise in certain situations. However, when it comes to basic values there are definite boundaries if you are looking for a long-term committed partner. There is no room for compromise when it comes to lying, cheating, stealing, mental, emotional, or physical abuse. Those are deal-breakers.
National Health and Social Life Survey reported that 12% of men and 17% of women were sexually abused before adolescence. If you have suffered from abuse of any kind I would encourage you to seek outside help. You will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
Not all sexual abuse results in sexual problems in adulthood; however, of all childhood experiences, sexual abuse has the greatest negative effect on adult sexual functioning.
A healthy relationship is a sexual relationship. Men and women may differ in their sexual drives but it's important that you discuss all aspects and preferences of your sexual life. Do not spring your surprise sexual fantasies or lack thereof on him six months into a committed relationship. Be open and honest.
You learned how to communicate from your social environment growing up. Each partner brings a completely different set of communication tools into the relationship. It will be up to you, for the most part, to learn how to foster good communication. Couples who know how to communicate their ideas, thoughts, and opinions increase their chance of maintaining a long-term relationship.
Successful communication is learned. Successful couples are partners who have learned how to communicate with one another in a clear and concise manner. They are not demanding, do not lose their temper, or call one another names.
To be an effective communicator, you must have a healthy respect for differences and the willingness to compromise in difficult situations. Couples who master communication are looking to respond to their partner's needs rather than emotionally react to their own demands.
Today, many families are blended families. With that in mind, when you are faced with a problem, be solution oriented. Focus on the problem and not on the person.
If you want to know how you communicate with others, take an entire day and watch how you interact with family, friends, and coworkers. Better yet, carry a voice-activated recorder and listen to the way you speak and respond to others.
The way you deliver your message is as important as the message itself. You may have the answer to the problem, but if you deliver the message in a sarcastic way your words of wisdom will fall on deaf ears.
When it comes to effective communication, timing is everything. Never attack him when he walks through the door at night or first thing in the morning. There is never a valid reason for a woman to raise her voice, be hateful, or rude. When you need to talk, ask him when it would be a good time.
Studies show that happy couples are committed couples. Commitment is when a couple makes a conscious decision to work through their relationship problems regardless of the challenges they face as a couple.
Men are not afraid of commitment. However, they are afraid of being committed to the wrong woman. Also, he is not intimidated or too shy to bring the subject up. When Mr. Right has pursued you, taken the time to know you, and is emotionally connected to you, then he will not want anyone else to have you.
With that being said, just as you do not want to feel pressured about sex, he does not want to feel pressured about commitment. When it comes to commitment he has his own timetable and just like you can not nail jelly to the wall, you can not force him into a committed relationship until he is ready.
If it has been several months or more than a year and the relationship is not moving towards commitment and you feel you need to know where you stand, then you can gradually pull back and spend less time with him and more time with family and friends. Usually after a couple of weeks or so he will bring the subject up. When he does, you can ask him to talk about his intentions and where he sees the relationship headed. But this is not the time to pressure him or give him an ultimatum.
This is your life. And you have every right to want what you want and not settle. If you have done the best you know to do and Mr. Right is unsure of commitment, then you can choose to stay or you can choose to walk away.