Adapting the Five Agreements
If the earth grows inhospitable toward human presence, it is primarily because we have lost our sense of courtesy toward the earth and its inhabitants
I have wondered lately what it takes to maintain a relationship. I know people who have managed to stay together for many years, most of them happy. They encountered obstacles but worked together to surmount them. The odds of a marriage remaining intact are about fifty-fifty. I haven’t seen any good data on the prospects of relationships outside marriage but they might not be much different.
Why is it so hard to stay together? Some of us look for what they can get rather than give to each other. Others don’t take the time to get to know each other. Some don’t even take the time to learn about themselves. If we don’t know who we are, who our partners are, what we want from them or what we are willing to give them, no wonder staying together is an uphill battle.
I wrote before about Miguel and Jose Ruiz’s book, The Fifth Agreement. They suggest five agreements with yourself to keep your life on course. Maybe we could adapt these same agreements to help maintain stable relationships.
The first agreement is to be impeccable with your word. Speak the truth rather than frivolity or gossip. We can speak seriously together of what we love about each other rather than what we find annoying, thus bringing us closer together rather than farther apart.
The second agreement is not to take anything personally. What if we took our partners’ words and actions as their attempt to be the best partners they can be instead of seeing them as trying to hurt us. Relationships don’t start between people trying to hurt each other. Maybe we can give each other the benefit of the doubt.
The third agreement is not to make assumptions. Instead of imagining our partners’ thoughts, feelings and motivations, we can talk with them about our observations to find out what they really think and care about.
The fourth agreement is to always do your best. We all have good and bad days in our own skin and in our relationships. Sometimes it is harder to be with someone than at other times. We can use whatever abilities at our disposal on any given day to enhance our relationship. What we have available might not be ideal. But it is the best we have at the moment.
The fifth agreement is to be skeptical and learn to listen. We don’t need to take everything at face value, including ourselves and our partners. We also need to remember that in conversations listening is more important than talking. Really hearing helps our understanding of each other and gives us a better chance to build a more solid relationship.
Life Lab Lessons
- Tell your partner what you truly love about him or her.
- Look for your partner’s best intentions regarding how she or he acts.
- If unsure what your partner means, make sure you ask.
- Give your partner the best you have each day.
- Don’t take anything for granted, especially your relationship.