Relationships are impossible. That’s the conclusion I reached, and one that I sadly accepted. The lore of Disney movies, prince charming and happily ever after seemed like the worlds greatest lie.
I got the point where I believed that the fairy tale love with passion, energy, excitement, intimacy and adventure sustained over a life time was impossible.
Could you blame me? Look around.
The divorce rate in the US is sitting somewhere between 50 and 60 percent, padded by the fact that millennials are choosing not to get married at a higher rate than previous generations.
On top of this think about the relationships that you are exposed to, how many successful happy relationships can you point out? Relationships where there is passion, support and commitment…
In my life the statistics of marriage ending in divorce wasn’t at 60% it was at 100%. Every single marriage I used as my model growing up ended in separation. Both my siblings ended their marriages short of "'til death do us part" and my parents after 30 years of what appeared to me as the model for what a relationship should be, called it quits in a spectacle of a divorce.
These are people I love, really really good people, they are kind, caring, empathetic, made huge sacrifices for the relationship and went into it with the purest of intentions and it still didn’t work… I experienced it with dating in my own life, I had several long term relationships with really good people that didn’t work out over time.
Combine the failure rate with the endless gallery of the opposite sex that social media provides us triggering the same part of our brain that would be if we were actually with them, swipe to mate apps, raising levels of anxiety and depression, people being more concerned with staging photos for Instagram with their partner than actually loving them, and a decreasing model of healthy relationships can you blame me for being a bit dejected?
I got to the point where I accepted the fact that long term relationships just weren't a possibility.
Then right as I got ready to dig my heels in and accept the life as an eternal bachelor, my whole world got turned upside down.
It started when I was provided a glimmer of hope for at-least a great partner, listening to a podcast that shared the power of writing down everything you want in your partner. I took it to heart and feverishly wrote everything I wanted out of my lover, looks, emotional qualities, what they liked to do for fun, you name it… everything I could think of went down on that piece of paper.
Then… Call it God, the universe, my reticular activating system, or pure chance she showed up. And it rocked my world.
As many of you have probably experienced when falling head over heals in love, it was fast and furious, rocket fuel on a fire. I found her and I fell hard. She was adventurous, kind, drop dead gorgeous, intelligent… I could go on and on. Everything was clicking, our first date was a beautiful lake front dinner, the next day we ran into each other without planning in a crowd of 10k people, and the following day we had our second date.. Skydiving together. We were inseparable, in love, and the honey moon period bliss wiped away all my fear and doubt… until the pesky brain kicked in.
The human brain is not wired for our success, a trait from the cavemen days the brain is always looking for what's wrong, discipline can curb this brain, but mine showed up… Fear came knocking. "Hey Jake its me your 2 million year old brain here to remind you that all relationships fail and this is impossible so hey good luck buddy"… Oh shit..
It was that feeling and emotion prior to meeting Joanna of getting to the point where I accepted the fact that long term relationships just weren't a possibility.
But thanks to some cultivated presence my higher mind kicked in and rather than blowing up the relationship with the question of when will this all crumble, I asked a new question- I love this woman and I am not willing to accept the fact that a beautiful passionate relationship sustained over time is not possible. What do I need to learn and who do I need to be in order for this to work?
With this decision I knew I needed to deploy a strategy.
So I applied my model:
Mental and Emotional Calm Cultivated through deep reflection and meditation.
Clarity of purpose and desired outcome
Organization of my life to support my outcome
Reflect and adjust
So in this case this looked like:
Mental and Emotional Mastery through deep meditation and reflection
Found my quiet and decided that my beliefs around relationships were bullshit, not mine, and did my best to release them
Clarity of purpose and desired outcome
A passionate, intimate, adventurous relationship sustained over time
Organization of my life to support my outcome
I hired a coach to teach help me develop a new strategy and better habits.
Seminars - 100s of hours in full immersion learning
Books - anything I could find on loving someone
Mentors - Couples that were living what I was seeking
Reflect and adjust
Deep listening and discussion with my partner
If something isn't working try something new.
This process was not easy, I had bad learned behaviors and habit's that reared their ugly heads even after making this decision. The work was hard, but I felt it was important. I spent over $10k on seminars, books and coaching, Something I did happily due to the believe there is no better investment than your self and learning how to give the best of your self to someone else.
I challenged my beliefs and my model of the world. There were ups and downs, there were fights, I'm no where near perfect and neither is she, but I'm proud to say that we just celebrate 2 years together, with no breaks in between, with moving in together, both of us making major career changes, financial and family stresses and the complexities of living in the social media/ tech world that we do.
She showed an equal commitment to this process, she grew and bought in, supported me and most important, supported herself.
Our time is a blip on the timeline compared to a lot of couples but the love I have experienced in the last year has been greater than I could have every imagined. I'm proud of how we have grown as a couple and continue to grow. Making the decision to seek out what makes a relationship great was one of the best I have ever made. I would like to share with you a few things that I've learned along the way so that you can apply them in your relationship and beat the lie that a long term relationship is not possible .
Lesson Learned (Hint this can apply to business partners, friends too) :
Selection Matters - One of the biggest factors in a successful relationships is choosing the right partner. Be proactive. If you are single give your self the gift of quieting your mind and asking your self: what do I really want? Write it down, there is power in the written word. If you are in a relationship with someone and you are questioning if you made the right selection, do the work on your self first before making a change. It is amazing how different your partner can look when you are seeing them through a kinder set of eyes.
Love is not enough, you need to learn the skills - We are not taught how to love, we are only taught Disney fairy tales and watch what our parents do, that’s our model and most of the time that is not enough. With the internet, there is no excuse for not being able to find this information, it exists for little to no cost. Find someone that is teaching in a way that resonates with you, take what they say to hear, and act on it. Just like love is not enough, learning isn't either, it must be applied. If you are struggling to find the right teacher on this topic, reach out and I will share some that resonated with me.
Love your partner the way THEY need not the way you need to love - Learn the needs of your partner and become obsessed with finding new ways to meet these needs. This is challenging, it involves releasing your ego and letting go of what you think is right. It involves accepting that maybe you don’t know best. As hard as this is, loosing someone you love because you were not able to see what they actually needed is harder, I promise.
Never stop marketing - Think back to the level of courting you did when you first started together, be that version of you. Take time to create new experiences for each other, if you are always growing and growing together as a couple, things should not get boring.
Understand the Masculine/Feminine Energies - these are non gender dependent. Just because you are a man doesn’t mean you are all masculine, or woman all feminine. There is no wrong energy to be, but understand what dominates your and your partners persona. Knowing where you operate and where your partner operates and learning how to honor that energy is transformational. Communication style, how someone views problems, emotions and more are all heavily influenced by the masculine/feminine energies.
Have a vision and goals for the relationship just as you would for your life or business - This one seems so simple but hardly anyone takes the time to plan out their relationship future with a clear vision and goals.. Here are some areas it would be helpful to have a plan in:
Recreation and Leisure
Children and Parenting
The process of planning can be more important than the plan it self.
You are training your partner how to treat you - This one I took a huge lesson from my dog on. It doesn’t matter if we are gone for 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days, she greats us with enough excitement to give the average dog a heart attack, lucky for her as we all know dogs have extra large hearts and she can handle it. Her excitement has trained us to always look forward to seeing her. Imagine if you were always excited for your partner to come home vs barely looking up from your screen when he or she walks in the door. What message are you sending on a daily basis?
Study your mind, work towards mastery - This step is important in two ways. One you need to know what it is you want out of a relationship, what your needs are and how you need them to be met. If you don’t even know what you want, how do you expect your partner to figure it out? It is not fair to expect them to be a mind reader. Second if you gain the ability to watch the watcher and cultivate a self awareness that allows you to recognize when you are getting triggered or heated and step back, take a deep breath or even some time away to cool down. This will prevent you from saying something you don’t mean, doing something you really don’t want to do, and ultimately causing irrepressible damage.
Will simply reading 8 steps one time lead to a long term relationship with passion, adventure and love? No it won't. Reading this and implementing a few of the lessons, might help, but the most important ingredient here is commitment: Commitment to your partner, commitment to your self, and commitment to never stop doing the hard work. This stuff must be done every single day, with a equal kindness to self that allows you to get back to center when you or your partner inevitably get off track.
There is no greater amplifier of the human experience than a loving relationship, give your self that gift.