Because I’m both a wedding minister and a licensed marriage and family therapist, I have the unusual opportunity to deal with people in love relationships—both psychologically and spiritually. As a wedding minister, I’m privileged to speak with couples on one of the happiest days of their lives!
I enjoy seeing the loving looks and touches the pair exchange as they pledge to love one another forever. And at that moment, they truly mean it.
Unfortunately, at other times, in my role as a marriage counselor, I get to see them when their relationship has gone sour. My job is to help them learn from the painful experience so they won’t repeat it.
For example, here are a few experience I had with my clients:
One of my female clients joined an online dating service and became swamped with offers. She fell for one man during a two-hour phone call and they eloped on their second date. The next morning, her new husband revealed that he’s an alcoholic with only 6-months of sobriety. It turns out, he’s emotionally unstable and verbally abusive. My client felt devastated to find out that the prince she married was really a frog! They quickly annulled the marriage.
Another client (a successful, intelligent and attractive 30-something) divorced five years ago. Although she dated a lot, she couldn’t seem to find the right man. One day when she was especially dejected, she asked me, “Aren’t there any perfect men out there?” I replied, “There are no perfect men, but there is a man who is perfect for you!”
Follow these 4 steps for finding long-lasting love and happiness with the perfect partner for you:
1. Learn from the past
Make a list of the most important love relationships you’ve had. List any earlier marriages, engagements, and long term live-in situations. As you think about each one write down what qualities that attracted you to that person and why the relationship ended.
The initial sexual attraction you felt may have blinded you, but if you discovered the person you thought you loved is a liar, cheat or slob, how can you avoid repeating this pattern? Read over what you have written and answer this question as it applies to each of your unsuccessful romances: What did I learn from this experience?
2. Blow your own horn
Make a list of the qualities you have to offer the one you are looking for. Include everything you like about yourself and what will draw in others. Cynthia made a lengthy list of her positive traits and interests, and after reading the list out loud, exclaimed she would feel intimidated being with someone like that. Therefore, the very first entry on your list should read: The perfect partner for me thinks I am perfect for him or her.
3. Create a wish list
Make a list of all the traits, interests and accomplishments you find attractive in the perfect mate for you. Everyone’s list is different. Bill may want to find someone who loves tennis, travel, and cats, while Judy’s ideal mate loves to read, plays the guitar, and meditates.
It’s essential to make the list as long as possible. Consider not only looks and sex appeal, but values, too.
Tracy’s top priority was to find someone of the same religion. This was a deal breaker for her. Some other qualities to consider are honesty, humor, intelligence, spirituality, vulnerability, empathy, honesty, kindness, and responsibility.
Shared interests are important for most of us. Once you think your list is complete, pick the five characteristics that are the most important. These are traits that you absolutely MUST find in a partner. They are non-negotiable, so don’t compromise!
Alan, a successful lawyer, hadn’t given this much thought when he met Tara on a vacation trip and married her soon after. Once they settled and had lived together for a while, Alan realized that although Tara had a winning personality, she lacked education and couldn’t hold her own among his sophisticated and cultured friends.
He became embarrassed when they were in social situations and started to question whether the marriage could survive, since having a mate who was intellectually-challenging was more important to him than he realized.
4. Give it time
Once you meet someone you think is the special one, let the relationship unfold slowly. Even if you’re tempted, don’t make any commitments for at least six months, since it takes that long for the mask to begin slipping. We are all on our best behavior when we first meet someone we’re attracted to.
Do you try to impress your potential lover by trying to become the person you imagine he or she is looking for? Is he or she holding something back, too? Pretending to act a certain way or saying you like things you don’t really like becomes hard to keep up. Sooner or later you will have to reveal the truth and risk the consequences.
Before you walk down the aisle, be sure your partner has the “I can’t be happy without these” important traits from your list. Remember, you will be with this person day for many years, through good times and bad. If in doubt … don’t!
Discover more ideas for creating a lasting love relationship in my eBook Grownup Love: Getting It and Keeping It. Take advantage of a FREE phone consult with Gloria to discuss your relationship issues. Be sure to download Gloria’s free eBook Creating Happiness.