The Rules of Engagement
1. Honesty is more than a verb or a mere word used to describe one’s character. It is not an accomplishment to list on a resume. It certainly is not one single good deed. Honesty is a chosen path, a purposeful way to live your life, something you conscientiously do every single day. You not only have to live an honest life you have to accept honesty. You have to listen and hear the honesty and the truth in your partners words and accept them as such.
1a–I have always known that I can’t fight the truth. I prefer blatant honesty over half-truths or B.S. any day of the week. I would rather know than not know. I like to know where I stand so I know where I’m going and what I’m doing. I know how to resolve an issue (if necessary). Truth is strength.
1b–If one partner doesn’t know what is going on with their partner, if they feel their partner is holding back information, if they feel they are excluded from any part of their partners life, this will create doubt and insecurity which leads to frustration, anger and the loss of trust. Having to second guess your partner is unfair. Be fair with and to each other.
2. Listen to your partner: Accept honesty and the truth from your partner. Even if it’s something you don’t like or agree with, the truth is the truth and maybe you just need time to see their point through their eyes — which is usually the case.
3. Don’t complicate your partnership. Don’t tell your partner what you think they want to hear. Don’t withhold information from your partner because you feel you are doing it in their best interest. Withheld information isn’t honest nor is it truthful (at least from your partner’s point of view). Besides, they always find out eventually and learning second-hand information about your partner is an arrow through the heart. Secrets create doubt. That’s complicating your relationship. Don’t do it.
4. Be trustworthy. Your partner’s trust is an earned privilege. No one should expect to be trusted if they act in a less than trustworthy way. Without trust there is no relationship.
5. Never allow anyone else to be in a place that is equal to or is more powerful than your partner. Keep each other on a pedestal always.
6. Respect each other in every way. Make decisions based on this respect for your partner. It will simplify your life. Aretha really did know what she was talking about!
7. Always remember your partner is on your side. Always. Keeping this in mind, never begin a conversation believing otherwise.
8. Listening (again) There is something called active listening. Active listening to your partner during a discussion. This is different then a normal discussion. When two people are conversing — it’s a back and forth process with both of you contributing — sometimes at the same time. Actively listening is when your partner tells you he or she has something to talk to you about. Which translates to your partner needs to tell you something and you need to listen. When your partner has something to talk to you about (and it’s up to them make sure you understand this) it’s important for you to listen with your mouth kept shut, a smile on your face and no interruptions. No matter what is being said, listen, learn and if you don’t agree, think about it before making waves. I struggle with this to date.
9. No negativity, please! Keep negativity and negative people out of your relationship. Choose happiness instead.
10. Be Specific. No one can read minds. If you have something to say to your partner, say it. When you speak from your heart, speak up and speak clearly. Don’t begin a sentence and stop mid-way through finishing it with a “never-mind”. Especially when the answer to “never-mind” is silence. Finish your sentence, ask the question, complete the thought. Half sentences do not resolve a thing and have no place in a conversation about truth. Not if you expect to be heard (and understood).
11. Be Aware. We are human and we make mistakes. A big mistake one partner can make is to step outside of the relationship. Stepping or acting outside of one’s relationship is unacceptable. If one partner does not follow one or more of The Rules, the relationship suffers. Breaking a rule is like finding a spot of rust on your car. If you don’t stop to fix it, as soon as you see it, the rust will eat through the entire vehicle and your car will be destroyed. It doesn’t happen overnight but it will happen.
12. Stop, Talk, Apologize. It happens unfortunately! And when it does, as soon as you realize you have broken one (or more) of The Rules — Stop, Talk, Apologize — immediately. Stop what you are doing, talk to your partner and apologize as soon as it is humanly possible. Do not believe you can just step back into your relationship and act as if nothing happened. Don’t make things worse by not talking about it under the guise that “maybe” your partner doesn’t know. They do. So turn this around and do it fast. Don’t underestimate the power of a sincere apology. It is the start to right the wrong.