About this time of year, most people are reflecting on things that took place over the last year. You will find thousands of articles of this kind and even more as people start to think about New Year resolutions. Even people who do not write often will feel compelled to give their thoughts. Many will cover global events and 2018 has enough of them to reflect on. Brexit, Trump, the continuing war on terrorism, North Korea, Russia, Trump again. You would not have to search far to find enough material to write a critical article. While I find such events interesting, I tend not to spend precious time considering them too much. They are really out of my sphere of influence and I choose to concentrate on things closer to home.This is generally where efforts I make tend to have the biggest return. This can be broken down into three parts. My work, my extended family and children and my marriage. While I place much importance on the first two mentioned, my marriage is the one that brings me the greatest reward emotionally but is also the factor that takes the most effort. Don’t get me wrong. I have no issues with my beautiful wife or is my marriage in trouble in any way, exactly the opposite. I do, however, place a lot of emphasis on keeping it that way (as she does also) and that takes hard work on a daily basis.
Helping people in relationships is part of my daily work. I write about it frequently, I have written a book about our quest for true love and what that means because I believe a relationship with the right person is a major factor in our own sense of well-being. It goes wrong when we spend too much time with the wrong people and we fail to realise it or are not prepared to face the truth. When you do find the right person (never an exact science), it is then a question of finding a framework that will give you the best chance of staying together. Most observers including myself, will highlight such factors as trust, honesty, respect, meeting of each other’s needs, communication and most importantly conflict management as important. I agree with all of those but if you do not have a focus on the relationship, none of the above matter. What do I mean by focus? That means making your partner and the relationship a priority and always thinking…”Is what I am about to do or say likely to be hurtful or helpful to my relationship?”
This concept of focus has been a major factor in the success of my marriage and it has become a functional habit for us. On the surface, this focus and success has come despite many factors that would have killed off the relationship in its infancy. Equally, the amount of change that has occurred since then has been a pressure point that has strengthened rather than weakened our union. Some of those pressures are obvious..moving continents, renovating a house and all that brings and navigating long periods apart at the start of the relationship (in different time zones). However other factors are also relevant. We are a mixed couple, mixed race, mixed religion, mixed view of the world, coming from extremely different backgrounds and upbringing. This brings a magnificence to our relationship that has helped us prosper but also brings challenges. I speak English and German, my wife speaks three languages fluently with English being one of them. This can occasionally bring misunderstandings and miscommunication.
Despite the above, she is my rock and the big picture is extremely rosy. She is the person I choose to spend time with, share my life and feelings with and is the one person I have ever known who I have shared everything with. However, that point didn’t just happen. It was manufactured and maintained by two people who saw enough in each other to say “Yes, this can work and the work we need to do will be worth it”. That work means having focus every day, all day on keeping the relationship where it is. That means doing the good things well and handling the not so positive even better.