• Keith Shaw

Keith's 3 Relationship Keys

Without the three keys below relationships are in danger of failing long term or missing something special that makes a union joyful and fun.

Be Yourself: First, before being able to love another fully, you have to actually know and love yourself. I know people who have married and then found themselves later; the results can be unpredictable. If you don’t know who you are yet and can fully be yourself, the people around you are not seeing the real you. Essentially you are ‘playing’ a part, and unfortunately for everyone else, they need to assume that’s the real you. Of course, this can be problematic. I’ve spoken in previous blogs about cognitive dissonance and the trouble that can befall us if we pretend too much. I know early in relationships, the desire to be with someone can be strong enough to have us saying all kinds of things and sooner or later that can come back to haunt.

It’s totally ok to be open to new things, to have your perspective challenged but that’s different than faking it. And if you don’t know who you are yet (and that’s most of us, you are not alone), recognise the things can and will likely change; nothing is forever. Having this awareness for yourself and your partner can help bridge times when we need space to learn about ourselves and each other. Knowing this can be the difference between breaking up and growing stronger.

Know your responsibility to your vows: If you are married, do you remember your wedding vows? Do you remember what you promised you would do? If you are not, what are the expectations you have for the current stage of your relationship? When Tanja and I married, among other things, I vowed to make our relationship the most important priority in my life. This was a simple and unmistakable statement that was not just misty eyed fluff for the wedding day but a guiding statement for my conduct in all areas of life. By putting Tanja and I first, other things had to be assessed and subjugated based on the premise that nothing should get in the way of my ability to be a great husband to Tanja. Of course, this can cause some hard choices and risk. Like anything we want badly enough, we need to be willing to put in one hundred percent and not leave things to chance. Any focus on one thing means a trade off somewhere else. For me those have been minor in comparison to the relationship Tanja and I have built.

Communicate with Courage: If you’ve not seen my webinar, (stay tuned for new dates), I am a strong advocate for building your toolbox to be able to have difficult conversations. As a manager, I’ve been blessed to have many opportunities to tone my “difficult conversation” muscle. In personal relationships, the ability to communicate how you feel, without blaming the other, is an important skill. If you’re in a committed relationship, that person is it for you. Unlike in other areas of life, in a relationship, you don’t get to have a different partner depending on your changing needs. So first, know yourself and what you want (see point 1), and then be brave and communicate that to your partner. A full discussion on how to communicate with courage is beyond this article’s scope but look back to my former blogs (The Reset, The Gap, Closing the Gap) for ideas on how to get your messages across in a way that respects your partner and does not require them to be psychic.

Relationships are dynamic, changing and that can be fun as people grow together and support each other. By knowing yourself, holding space for your partner to grow, keeping your promises, and communicating with courage, you’ll create the conditions for openness and connection that are the foundation of fulfilling and joyful relationships.


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