12 Rules of love: The key elements of a loving, committed and sustainable relationship
1. The commitment to love
Everything starts with knowing what it is you want – that is what you want to achieve. So you must begin with a meaningful, heartfelt commitment to love. You must be ready willing and able to love. Break away from habits or beliefs that you will love “when you are in the mood”. Rather choose to love come rain, hail or shine. It is through this willingness to lead through your will that you free your self from the slavery of passivity and reactivity. If you let your moods dominate your actions you will be unreliable as a lover.
2. The command of your mind
The process of loving begins in the mind. It is the narrative you live by – how you see the world how you understand the world. You can shape this world view and your actions towards being loving. Determine to think lovingly, speak lovingly and act lovingly so there is consistency from your mind through your actions.
3. Pay attention
The most observable sign of love is the attention we pay to our partner. Look at your partner often and with interest and intensity. Seek to understand him/her. Notice the attitude you have when looking and listening. Is it receptive, curious, interested, supportive? Develop the position of interested support. Understand and develop the skill of active listening.
4. Know, understand and work with your partner’s love language
Being attendant to your partner means understanding how he or she feels most supported and loved. This is usually referred to as their love language. What may work for you may not work for them. Some people respond most to physical affection, some to words of affirmation, others to quality time. Provide your love in the way that your partner most understands and appreciates it.
5. Establish your personal values or rules for engagement
It is important to understand and know your values so that you have your own personal standards of what is right and wrong for you. This guides you in how to be in a relationship. Most people recognise their values along the axes of love and truth. Values that align with these such as love, kindness, translate to relationship virtues of respect, kindness, politeness, easy-goingness, good will, flexibility. If you can more and more align yourself with these virtues and live them out through how you think, speak and act you will find you are living your values and enjoy a greater feeling of integrity and certainty in yourself and also optimise your contribution to the relationship.
6. Understand the two great gifts of space and support
Understand how and when to give the gift of space. In a complementary way understand how and when to give the gift of support – holding, listening and containing. Be especially cautious of rushing in to fix problems which can cut across and invalidate the process your partner needs to go through.
7. Be loyal
Be loyal to your partner first and foremost. Loyalty shows up in many ways and in many circumstances – but especially with family and friends. It also shows up in how we stand by out partner when they are facing difficult interpersonal problems either social or in their workplace. Let loyalty and standing with your partner be your first instinct in ambiguous situations.
8. Understand the power of validation
Understand how validating your partner’s feelings can be very reassuring and provide love in the most vital way. It conveys love, loyalty and the gift of support. It also assists your partner understand what he or she is grappling with. By providing active meaningful support in this way the trust between you grows.
9. Read the room
Be attendant to ruptures in the fabric that connects you and your partner. Seek to repair ruptures as quickly and effectively as possible. Every relationship goes through many ruptures. It is the dedication to attend to the ruptures and repair them as quickly and effectively as possible that indicates a good health relationship from one where there are or will be problems.
10. Be mindful
Notice tensions, difficulties and conflicts as soon as they arise. Seek to facilitate harmony. Consider how your actions are “coming across”. Understand how to de-escalate. Be aware of how much love is in the “Love Bank”. This essential idea is discussed by Gary Chapman in his book “The Five Love languages”
11. Understand the dynamics of relationships
There are many predictable cycles dances, processes. These include the attack defence cycle, the four horseman, power battles, pursuer-withdrawer and overfunctioner/underfunctioner dynamics.
12. Work on yourself
Strive to be a better person. The relationship is a stimulus for personal growth and the more you grow the better partner you can be. You can only control your part of the relationship – not the other person or their contribution.