In my last two posts, we discussed the first two secrets to attraction and lasting relationships:
This third secret to attraction and lasting relationships is probably the most important of them all because it’s a hard one to practice. But okay, you’ve twisted my arm and I’ll tell you. The third secret to making yourself attractive to others and making your relationships last is being willing to change yourself instead of trying to change your partner.
Allow me to illustrate this point with a personal story from my friend, Matt:
“My mom was a faithful Catholic and my dad, although a baptized Catholic, had not practiced his faith since his early twenties. My dad had told my mother not to talk about God around him and she suffered a lot because of this. Despite her pain and worry for my dad’s soul, she gave him what he asked for and never spoke about her faith in front of him. She never tried to get him to change his mind or asked him to go to church with us. She just prayed for him, and so did I.
“My father, out of love and respect for her, attended Sunday mass with us as a family. When we would get up to receive Communion, he would sit there in the pews with his arms crossed and a blank look on his face.
“On Mother’s Day last year, Mom and I got in line to receive Holy Communion and on our way back to the pew, we both looked to where dad was sitting, but he was gone! We panicked for a moment but then I felt a tap on my shoulder. Mom and I turned around to see Dad behind us. He had received the Eucharist. As we got settled back in the pew, he whispered in my mother’s ear, “Happy Mother’s Day” and gave her a peck on the cheek.
“Later that day, Dad told us that his change of heart was due largely to the unconditional love Mom had given him for the last 27 years. She never hen-pecked or hounded him. She let him be who he was. Dad said he’d been receiving spiritual direction for several months prior to that day and had to sneak out the day before to get to confession. He gave Mom an incredible Mother’s Day gift through receiving the Eucharist for the first time in more than 30 years. Mom cried and I couldn’t have been happier because now, we are family united in Christ.”
What a beautiful example of true love!
Couples need to give each other the freedom to be who they are and make their own
choices. If God never forces Himself upon us, we must follow His example of unconditional love and never demand that our partner conform to what we want (abusive or addictive behaviors are an exception here and a different matter altogether). Matt’s mother achieved this, not by demanding that her husband change to fit her needs, but by changing herself… she became an unselfish lover and entrusted her needs and desires to God.
So in your relationships, I encourage you to be willing to change yourself in the respect that you commit to loving your partner unconditionally. Am I suggesting that you remain in a relationship with someone that is not suitable for you? Definitely not, but I am suggesting that you don’t engage in a relationship believing you can change someone to be more the way you want him or her to be. This is a disservice to both of you and never a successful endeavor.
Kill Each Other With Kindness
So many times when challenges confront a relationship, the common reactions are doubt, withdrawal, and an attitude of, “Our relationship is difficult right now, so what are you doing to please me?” But a great lover doesn’t do that. When disagreements arise or situations get tough, a great lover says, “What can I do for you?” “How can I make your day better?” A great lover finds ways to love even when things don’t go their way.
You can begin the practice of unconditional love as you date and even within your familial relationships and friendships so when you do marry, you can be a great lover, too.