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3 Tips for a Lasting Relationship

February 14, 2014 3 Comments


Last week, I shared some tips for loving yourself, and so many of you responded with gratitude.  I’m so glad it resonated with you!

I’ve been feeling an inner nudge to share some tips for lasting relationships, but I almost let excuses get the best of me.  I planned to write this post yesterday, but my husband and I have been snowed in with our 3 and soon to be 5-year-old.  As I type, my oldest is looking over my shoulder and asking for (yet another) snack. 

Still, at mid-day on what is celebrated as Valentine’s Day, I’m still feeling that nudge to write.  So, I’m cranking it out – in the midst of toddler cabin fever.  I pray this message is a blessing to all who it was intended for. 

I have been with my husband for 11 years, and married for almost 9 of those years.  We met in Spain while I was on what was supposed to be a one-month Spanish immersion for me.  I met him the second day I arrived and everything shifted.  I ended up staying there for three months, while we traveled the world together and got to know one another intimately.  We were inseparable and deeply in love.

But, during our second year of marriage, and after being together for four years, we almost decided to go our separate ways.  At the time, I did not love myself – I didn’t even know how.  Instead, I was unconsciously looking for him to fill me up.  I had become comfortable with my insecurities, and was allowing them to control my actions.  Due to some unhealed past emotions related to men, I felt like I needed his attention and affection in order to feel good about myself.

When I perceived his attention as focused more on his career, and less on me, I allowed my thoughts to get the best of me.  I thought his actions meant he didn’t love me anymore.  I made some poor decisions at that time, including allowing another man’s affection to be the temporary fuel to fill my emotional tank (which still remained depleted due to the guilt I harbored inside for my actions).  After a lot of healing work, individually and together, my husband forgave me, and we decided to continue the marriage.  (More on this process of healing in my soon-to-be-released memoir From Stress to Peace:  An Intimate Journal on the Journey from Living in Darkness to Living in the Light).

It has now been seven years since we made that fateful decision to stay together, and our relationship has grown to be even stronger than it was in the early days.  So, how did we do it?  What is the key to lasting, unconditional love?

Last weekend, my husband and I had a wonderful overnight date while a friend of the family watched our boys overnight (so sweet!).  We had the rare opportunity to wake up slow and talk for hours (no pitter patter of little feet coming down the hall to jump in bed with us…although that is endearing).  As we laid there talking, a question came to mind that I’ve actually never asked him.  How did you do it? How did you push past your feelings and forgive me?  How did you get back to fully being vulnerable again and loving me even more deeply than you did when we first fell in love?

We had a beautiful discussion about it.  I believe we have some great material for a book on the subject, to be honest.  But, for now, here are 3 Tips for a Lasting Relationship.  These come from a combination of what I’ve learned through healing my old relationship wounds and the cliff notes version of what my husband shared about what he has learned about loving unconditionally – even when it’s incredibly hard.  I did not include “loving yourself” on this list, as I covered that so extensively in the last post.  So, for today, loving God and loving yourself are an assumed foundation. (The photo below is from our date night last weekend and the photo above is from when I was pregnant with our oldest son)

Kev and Kan - Date Night - 2.8.14 - BW Drop Shadow

1.       Forgive Freely

During our conversation last weekend, my husband said, “We all make mistakes and no mistake is different than the next…that’s what I came to realize as we were going through the process of healing.”  If it were not for his forgiveness of me and my forgiveness of myself, I would be telling a very different story today.  We would not have stayed together, we would not have had these two precious boys, and we would not have been able to be a Light for others who are struggling to maintain their relationships.

We forgive one another daily – for everything.  Whether it’s leaving socks on the floor or forgetting an important deadline, we forgive.  Every day we see one another as a clean slate.  We leave the past in the past, and create each moment anew.  I give much credit to, and am incredibly grateful for, A Course in Miracles for coming into our lives at the moment in which we both were ready to heal our relationship and learn how to truly see each other as God does.  This 365-day devotional-style Course truly assists you with seeing everything as it is in the present, without past association, and returns you to a Peace that is beyond this world.  We did the lessons together daily during the period of healing, and the results were truly powerful!  It has been such an integral part of my healing process that I have become a teacher of it.  I love every minute of sharing the profound power of forgiving everyone and everything!

Interested in getting started with the Course?  Click here for more information on the supports that Living in the Light has available to get you off to a great start to being at peace – regardless of the circumstances!

2.       Be Lovingly Authentic

With the exception of that brief dark period, authenticity has been the bedrock of our relationship.  From the beginning, we openly shared all of our insecurities, fears, worries, doubts, big dreams, frustrations, past relationship challenges, and more.  Anytime we have had any misunderstandings, it has been due to one of us not being fully authentic about what we were thinking or feeling.

We have both made authenticity a top priority.  So, even when it feels hard, we tell one another what’s on our mind.  We make it a point to be loving and gentle with one another when we disagree about anything or when we’re being open about something that may be tough for the other to hear.  We haven’t had even one argument in seven years (not since the period of healing where there were, indeed, some intense conversations).  I know that a big part of this is our authenticity.  We keep it real with one another.  There’s nothing intentionally hidden (although, with two little ones, there is less time for talking so it sometimes takes more time for us to fully express everything), and there are rarely suppressed emotions that come up for healing in unhealthy ways.  This has made all the difference for us.

Scheduling time for discussion is key, particularly for those with busy work schedules or children (and especially for those with all of the above, like us!).  Ideally, this authentic discussion, or family meeting, time should be separate from date night so that those precious moments aren’t filled with conversation about house repairs, bills, vacations, frustrations, etc.  We do this via lunch dates during the week while our boys are in school, and it has worked out great.

3.       Co-Create a Vision for Your Relationship

 So many of us set five year plans for our work, but rarely is this done in our life and relationships.  One of the things we have done is set aside time to talk about our big dreams regularly, which gets us both excited about our future together and what we are building as a family.  I keep a vision board in my office, which includes visuals of some of the goals we have set for our family.

 Whenever one of us seems consumed by what is happening in the present, we remind one another of these big goals.  This makes a major difference in balancing our mood swings, which arise primarily when we have lost sight of the bigger picture.

 A few years ago, we attending a friend’s wedding which was unlike any other we had attended.  During the reception, they paused everything and asked for everyone’s attention.  They proceeded to share their family mission statement, and asked that everyone encourage them if they ever got off track.  They passed out beautiful cards with each of the tenets of the mission statement on them and encouraged us to discuss them at our tables.  We were inspired by this, and began building on our vision and drafting a family mission.  We even invited them over for dinner so we could hear them talk through each of the elements of their family mission and how they came to that decision (connecting with other like-minded couples is also wonderful – this is something we don’t do as frequently as we would like to).  Creating a vision and mission that you both buy into can generate sustained excitement amidst the sometimes mundane tasks of daily life.

There’s so much more I could share, and many more examples I could give, but this post is already too long and my boys are demanding my attention (My youngest is pulling on my arm so I am typing one word per minute right now :-)).  To be continued one day (Maybe around our anniversary in July?  Maybe in a book?  Time will tell.).  Much Love!

What about you?  What have been the keys to your lasting relationship?   Or, if you’re not in a relationship, what do you plan to create in your next relationship to foster longevity?

Keep shining!


Kandace Jones
TWITTER: @coachkandace

Filed in: Forgiveness

About the Author:

I used to live life shackled by fear, doubt, and worry. I put on a happy face while navigating my day-to-day duties, but I was emotionally drained, stressed, and unhappy. When I hit rock bottom, and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I was determined to live life differently. I knew there had to be another way. Out of that determination, and guidance from Spirit, the "Living in the Light" blog was born. It documents my spiritual journey out of the darkness and into the Light. After nine months of publicly sharing my journey, and consciously releasing my attachment to the ego, I experienced a powerful spiritual awakening. I went from living in fear, doubt, worry, and stress to complete inner peace. My greatest passion has become assisting others on their own journey to inner peace. My spiritual memoir, From Stress to Peace: An Intimate Journal on the Journey from Living in Darkness to Living in the Light, is available now on Amazon and Click the tabs at the top of the page to learn more about the From Stress to Peace 21-Day Challenge, Living in the Light Retreats, 1:1 sessions, and the Living in the Light Community - all of which are designed to support your journey to inner peace. I appreciate you taking the time to visit the blog and look forward to supporting you in any way I can!