I get asked at least once a week, “What is the secret to my relationship”? My answer always surprises them. I am in a open relationship. “How can that be?” they ask. I reply, “I am open to what my wife communicates to me”.
In my personal as well as professional life, I have found that the willingness to remain open to what my partner say’s, reduces the amount of confusion between the two of us. Trusting her to be honest with her feelings is not the same thing as believing everything she says. She too accepts this principle. We both agree to look for the best result for our relationship, and not necessarily the best result for ourselves.
When I work with couples who are in relationship distress, I more often than not want to learn of their communication style. Can they have disagreements without anger? Are they okay being vulnerable, or do they need to have the power? Do they understand that there is her truth, his truth and the truth? Can you work for the best result of the relationship and drop the ego? This is what sets apart the healthy long term relationship verses those who stay with the devil they know.
Many experts would say that money is the leading cause to relationship discord. I would have to disagree. I believe it is communication. While money does present its unique set of relationship problems, I believe that lack of communication about money is the real culprit. Let me give you an example. I had a couple in my office complaining that he was going out for drinks on Thursday after work with his buddies. She said that they could not afford this extra expense.
In reality, while money was part of the issue, the real problem was that his $60 bar tab didn’t leave her with any walking around “me” money. They were focusing on money, but the real issue was parity. All he thought was is she didn’t want him to be with his friends. What she wanted was a couple of dollars for some makeup and morning coffees. Being a new couple, they never took the time to discuss my money, your money and household money. Being open with communication could have saved them hundreds of dollars they spent working with me.
When we trust our partner with our feelings, we know that it may not always be comfortable. But being open, we understand the “trying to” see the whole picture. And that is the beauty of an open relationship. When you do fall upon relationship discord, it really is an opportunity to get to a deep level of intimacy. It is not about score keeping and relinquishing power. It is the complete opposite. It’s about building that intimacy by affirming that we’re in this together, and that I completely trust you.
We are all familiar with the Bible verse 1 Corinthians. Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it does not dishonor, it is not self-seeking, it does not anger easily, it keeps no record of wrong doings. One does not need to believe in the Bible to see the beauty and wisdom in that verse. At the end of the day, we are either open to love or we’re not. Being in an open relationship has not always been easy. But, it has always been worth it. True intimacy at the deepest level is the reward. And far too many people say “I do”, but then they don’t. For when we’re honest and open, love comes naturally.