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Our Controversial Relationship Rule

The one thing we do not keep all to ourselves

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

The Winning Answer

Have you ever asked couples, what the most important element of a successful relationship is?

I have asked hundreds of people this question.

Trust, always comes in second place. But, communication- that seems to be the out-right winning answer.

To be honest, I would often get frustrated when hearing this answer because it is so vague.

Before I got married I assumed these people just stopped talking when they put a ring on their significant others’ finger. That would never happen to me, right? I have the best partner in the world (Seriously, I do!).

Communication is often a pain point for those in relationships and after being with the same man for 10 years now, married for four of them, I get it.

I get where it goes wrong, I am going to unpack that for you. Because it can go very, very wrong…

But, you can put systems in place to ensure your relationship stays safe.

My husband and I have a rule, which is controversial, but very effective in maintaining excellent means of communication.

I’ll share it with you shortly…

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Where it All Goes Wrong

The sensation of meeting someone is electric.

Those first moments where everything else seems to be paused and you meditate on a look, a thought, or something that was said.

That doesn’t stop when you are in a relationship… However, that doesn’t necessarily mean I am referring to your partner.

In life, we meet people who take our breath away, people who inspire us, people who seem to just ‘get’ us.

After being in a relationship with just one person for an extended period of time, it is possible to lose the extreme intensity at times. You have to work hard to keep your relationship great.

However, life gets in the way. Maybe the kitchen is still a mess, or they have left their clothes all over the house after you have begged them not to, or they get consumed in their jobs for a season.

This makes working on a relationship difficult.

This also makes meeting someone new intoxicating.

It can feel so good to get attention. It feels even better to be heard or understood.

The danger comes in when this new person is becoming your main source of communication. Mass destruction can occur when they are the only one, who in that season, makes you feel heard.

Remember, you don’t have to share a house with them. You don’t know if their bed is made, or if they brush their teeth before going to sleep. You haven’t seen them through a season of stress. You haven’t even had enough time to watch them change.

It’s easy to be naive.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

It helps to be mindful that in a long-term relationship you need to consciously and consistently choose each other as number one through years of changes and self-discovery.

Perhaps change means you need to compromise. Perhaps it means needing to quit your life and travel for a year to figure out how you can change together instead of separately. Perhaps it means you need to down-size your life.

What makes change a snake, is that if you don’t put systems in place- it can poison your communication.

Imagine that your partner is working countless hours, unable to help in the house, and too exhausted to listen to the major changes in your life when he or she comes home.

Now, imagine that you meet someone, of the opposite sex, who you are attracted to, and who has the time to listen to you.

First, you start confiding your ideas, your thoughts, and then your feelings.

You may even find yourself sharing insecurities with this new person about your long-term relationship.

It feels so good to be smiled at, to be seen, and to be heard.

But then, you find yourself meditating on that person when you are not even together. They may even sneak into your dreams…

Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash

Our Controversial Rule

Almost 10 years ago my husband and I agreed that we would not individually have friends of the opposite sex.

Well, we would share them.

You can’t help meeting people who you are attracted to. Whether it is their outlook on life, their adventurous spirit, their intelligence- you name it, there is someone out there ticking that box.

What this rule means is that if I meet a guy, and I really like him, as a friend, and want him part of my life, I ask my husband to be friends with him too.

This means that I don’t chat to this guy alone on the phone, I don’t have coffees alone, I don’t entertain even the slightest form of temptation.

Temptation can lead to action that not only destroys communication but trust too.

In fact, I ask my husband to be good friends with the guy first. And, I only spend time with the guy if it is the three of us.

Photo by Felix Rostig on Unsplash

If I had guy friends before my husband, the rule still applies. The boys now need to first be my husband's friend, and then mine.

The same applies if my husband has a new work colleague and they have to work closely together and start developing a friendship. She needs to become my friend first if she plans on being friendly with my husband.

We like to believe the best in each other, and if one of us feels friendship with this person is important, the other will gladly try to step into this friendship as the lead.

However, the rule goes one level deeper.

Let’s say I am attracted to someone, but I don’t feel this is someone I can friend-zone because it’s not that friendly kind of attraction…

Well, I will sit down and chat with my husband the moment I start to feel these feelings… I don’t allow them to fester.

I make a point to talk about them as soon as they become something to me and I tell my husband that I am developing feelings for this new person. Not because I want to be with the new person, but because the feelings are clearly there and need to be dealt with.

This conversation is hard but important.

If it doesn’t seem like those feelings will die down, this could result in needing to quit the gym, change jobs, or even leaving friendship groups. We have luckily not experienced anything this drastic, but if the situation were to arise, we are prepared.

If you marry well, as I have, then the person you are with will be open to discussing where your relationship is going wrong to create space for thoughts of someone else.

My husband and I have promised to fight for our relationship first, always. That is our biggest rule.

We put our marriage first, no matter how much money we make or lose for that matter, no matter what people think, no matter what we have to sacrifice.

Is it easy? Hell no. But I think it will be the best approach long term.

Conclusion

This rule works for us. We are by no means perfect.

However, choosing to swap out the contact person for friendship allows us to beat temptation before it arises.

Do people understand?

Not everyone gets it. And, that is more than ok. We are all different and we can all handle different levels of temptation.

We just choose to not even dip our toes into it.

We choose each other daily. We fight to keep our communication at a level where we can be honest and authentic about our true feelings.

We don’t pretend to be perfect and we are always open to sharing areas where we feel the other may be experiencing a blind-spot.

There is a reason, I feel, that so many people say that communication and trust are the most important elements of a healthily functioning relationship. I feel that when you start trusting and communicating more with someone of the opposite sex, who is not your partner, you exchange one of the most intimate gifts that you could share fully with the one who you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with.

Nobody loses with this rule- you just share a new friend, instead of keeping them all to yourself. You also cherish communication and trust and prioritize them as the important elements which they are.

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