Since dating my now husband Ralph over 9 years ago, we were often asked by friends and family about our relationship. How are we still happy and in love as the first day we met?How do we manage not to argue with one another?
Before I share my experience, I want to make a point. And it is that a “Healthy relationship is possible”. I think there is a big misconception on relationships in our society. On one end we want the relationship to be just like the beginning and the other we believe it is not “realistic”. I can say from my own experience being in a toxic relationship versus in a loving one that relationships can be wonderful, romantic and passionate but it does take work. The main reason I believe people are afraid of relationships is that we don’t understand one another. Being in a loving relationship is beautiful and is possible for anyone who wants it. But you have to be willing to put yourself out there. You have to be willing to give it your all, to open yourself up 100% and understand that you may get hurt but still choose to give of yourself every day. Sometimes we fall in and out of relationships thinking the next one will be different however we have not changed or learned from the experience. I truly believe in life and relationships you must always keep growing and contributing. If your relationship is not growing, well simply it is dying. That is a natural fact of life, anything that stays stagnant will eventually die. And in order for your relationship to flourish, you must put in the work.
I believe a lot of my relationship success is due to the fact that my husband and I applied principles from the following books and to this day review them constantly. We continue to grow both as separate individuals and as a couple with a common vision. We fall in love with one another every day because we are committed to each other in this relationship. We have learned a lot from one another and have read books and watched seminars on relationships to strengthen our bond.
Here are My Top 3 Recommended Books for a Happy Relationship…
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom By Don Miguel Ruiz
When it comes to relationships, we seldom focus on ourselves. We see self-care as an act of self-indulgence, however, self-care is not selfish as you cannot serve from an empty vessel. You must first work on yourself because you are your first priority. Take care of yourself and love yourself so you can become the best version of yourself. You can do this while you are in a relationship or single. Self-care is taking responsibility for your life and becoming your own hero. That is why I recommend reading The 4 agreements first because I strongly believe the key to a great relationship with anyone starts with yourself. In The 4 Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz explains how as children we made agreements with our parent’s realities as well as the outside world. By doing so, we believed in their ideals which created our dogmatic character. However, we are able to break free from those beliefs if we do not accept them as true or agree with them. The 4 agreements are as followed.
- Be Impeccable with your Word – Use your words to inspire, lift, encourage and create a positive influence on yourself and others. Basically, don’t use your words to hurt people and yourself.
- Don’t Take Anything Personally – Learn to respect others even when you don’t agree with them. It helps you deal with negativity from others and yourself.
- Don’t make Assumptions – Since none of us can read minds, assuming what others are thinking about you only creates negative results and consequences. Always ask questions before concluding and you will have clear communications and understanding every time.
- Always do your Best – At the end of the day, you should always be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know you did your very best. And if it was your last day on earth, you will not have regrets. Please, keep in mind that your best may be different from day to day.
The author also created “The 5th Agreement” which suggests the key principle Be skeptical but learn to listen. By reading this book and applying the concepts to your life, I am sure you will strengthen your character and will become the best version of yourself which will resolve in a happy relationship.
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex By John Gray
Interestingly enough, I haven’t actually read The Book but my husband and I have watched the live French edition on Youtube every year since 2009. It has become our yearly ritual or a kind of relationship review or assessment. It was first recommended to us by my parents in law who also gifted us the book. The 2-hour interactive video is charismatic, funny and engaging. The video stars Paul Dewandre who explains his personal struggle to understand his wife Corrine. The concept of Mars and Venus explains how fundamentally different men and women are and how the feminine and masculine energies communicate. Most relationship problems can span on the simple fact that we do not understand each other and how the opposite sex thinks.
For instance, the video showcases the example of a man who comes home after work and does not pay attention to his wife immediately. She automatically perceives it as “He doesn’t care about me” but for a man, his objective is to leave the best for last. That is because men come from a mentally from the planet Mars which objective is to FIX a problem First; whereas women come from the mentality from planet Venus which is to Talk and explain her feelings about the problem. That alone to a woman can make her feel heard which is ultimately what she wants. So, if you are a man don’t offer a solution to your girlfriend or spouse when she comes to you with a problem instead comfort her and listen to her, you will lower the wave as it is said in the video which will create harmony in her. However, if you are a woman, don’t probe your man for answers about the situation as he does not process the problem the same way you do, give him some space and let him come to you. Ultimately, in every situation, you should not ask what would I want to be done if I was in his/her situation? but ask how can I support him/her so that he/she knows I am here? It goes back to agreement number 2 which is not to take things personally. Once you use these concepts, you can both ride the wave of happiness together. I recommend all couples to read The book or watch the live show as it is extremely important for any relationship to understand how both sexes communicate.
The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts By Gary D Chapman
This last book is a game changer, especially after reading “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus”. Now that you have a better understanding of men and women, it is time to understand how they love. The 5 Love Languages offers the final key I believe every relationship needs, “The how to love Handbook”. More often than not, the reason for a breakup or divorce is because we no longer feel the connection, passion, trust or romance we felt at the beginning of the relationship. The “honeymoon phase” is gone and now we are living in a day-to-day world of work and paying bills etc… The book explains the distinct difference between falling in love and loving someone. When we fall in love we tend to not see the other persons’ flaws because everything they do is perfect and wonderful but once the honeymoon phase is over, we may wonder if we even like this person. We fall into the world where laundry is never done, dirty dishes are in the sink and hair is over the counter. The challenge is that when we fall in love, both sexes express several love languages but the key to happiness is to speak your spouse’s primary love language.
The 5 love languages are:
- Words of Affirmations
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
I highly recommend taking the Quiz on the website to find your primary love language or use the questionnaire below. As Chapman says “Love is a choice and it makes a difference”
- What have you most requested of your spouse? The thing you have most often requested is likely what would make you feel most loved.
- In what way do you regularly express love to your spouse? Your method of expressing love may be an indication of how you feel loved.
- What does your spouse do or fail to do that hurts you most? The opposite of what hurts you most is probably your love language.
I hope you found this blog helpful. I truly believe these books are incredibly life-changing and recommend every couple to read them. Please let me know if you’ve read these books and the impact it has made on your relationships. Ultimately, a great relationship starts with you taking responsibility for your own happiness.