Saturday, February 09, 2013

The foundations of a good relationship

The Foundation of a Successful Relationship


What distinctions create a successful relationship. Is it luck, good karma, or are there some specific observable reasons a small minority of people find happiness with an intimate partnership?


Obviously luck and karma may play there part, but observation does indicate that good relationships have three essential components buried deep within them. Trust, honesty and complete communication are requirements if one wants  to find happiness in a relationship.


It amasses me that most couples would tell an outside friend information about intimate aspects of their lives before they can share this information with their partner. This unhealthy state exists because trust, honesty and complete truthfulness have not been established, or once the relationship progresses, fear hinders clean open communication. The problem usually goes back to judgments made between lovers, then defensiveness and fear enter the equation. When humans are intimate, it is essential that judgments be held in check. With judgments come disapproval and anger, hurt and defensiveness, all the negative qualities that deaden intimacy.


What to do if you are not honest, trusting and completely open with your partner? First question is this is an appropriate relationship for you? If not, then deal with that. If it is appropriate, and if you are feeling judgment or experiencing being judged by your partner, talk about it. Honest communication is essential for success. Without complete truthfulness, how can trust be established? Without trust, how can love survive? Without love, how can your intimacy continue?


I am sure you have heard the three rules for buying good real estate. “Location, location, location.” Relationship rules are similar. “Communicate, communicate, communicate.” Communication is not just what is said, but just as important it includes what is not said. If you have a breakdown in communication, it becomes essential that you immediately fix the problem. If you cannot fix it together, seek outside help. Mediation, spiritual counseling, marriage therapy are all possibilities to helping you get back on course.


Success in relationship occurs when you are in love with your best friend. And if they are your best friend, you can and will tell them everything. If you cannot share important data with your marital partner, you have a serious problem, and you need to do some hard soul searching to find a way to remedy that condition.


So, success is found in couples that can and do talk regularly about everything and anything. And if you cannot and will not talk to your best friend, find out what is the blockage and do something about the issue, before the matter strangles the love that is left between the two of you.

Parental Love

Parental Love.


Stephen Martin, MFT.


Nothing can teach you more about love than your children.


True love isn’t really about having a Valentine or a partner to enjoy life with. That is romantic love. Full of desire and passion, this form of love cannot compare to the love a parental figure gives to a child.


True selfless love is best seen in parents towards children. Adoption has taught us beyond any doubt that parents can love chosen children. And there are many humans who spend time mentoring children. This is all parental type love.


Love for the younger generation is a form of parental love. There is no better teacher about love than the relationship of a parent or mentor to a child. Giving selflessly to another is giving love. Receiving their love is perhaps the most delicious form of love we can experience.


Both the ‘giving’ and the ‘receiving’ of love are aspects we need to experience to experience true love.


Most parents would be willing to die for their children. Given the nature of survival, this makes this form of love within us a very powerful emotion.


I really enjoyed the movie Les Miserables. Some found it depressing. Everyone dies. But it is not about death and tragedy, it is about two stories. The first story is about forgiveness verses duty. This is played out by Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman. The second and most beautiful story is about the love of a father for a child. This love is the centerpiece of the story. And it is very hopeful, positive and anything but negative or depressing.  


The story addresses this most powerful of all emotions. “When you fall in love, you see the face of God” sings Hugh Jackman. And of course love hurts, love feels pain and suffering, but love also feels joy, accomplishment and purpose. Love is the greatest gift life has to offer us.


It is in the love we express to others that we find the deepest of all emotions. “Love is the answer, whatever the question” says the Book of Miracles. And the most selfless love, the most giving form of love is the love for a parent type figure and a child.


This is the way we leave something behind after we die. It is in the relationships we invest in that our true riches are found. Some chase money, while others find purpose and meaning in giving to others and this giving is an act of love.


When we finish our journey, the most important aspect of life will not be how many “things” we accumulated, but how well we have loved and the relationships we leave behind. If you have succeeded in love, dying will be much easier than if you die alone.


If you know of any greater purpose than love, I challenge you to prove it.

Many people have searched for purpose and meaning in life, and the vast majority of people who follow that road, end up “loving” as their contribution to life.



When we experience love, we are the most emotional full we can ever be. Loving another is the greatest gift life has to offer us. If not, I challenge you to find a greater purpose.



Biography at end of article.


Stephen Martin is a marriage and family therapist with offices in Moss Beach.

Stephen has been the past President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapist (the largest association of therapists in the world).

Stephen can be reached at (650) 726-1212 or by email at

Stephen’s web site is

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