What is the defining factor in the quality of a relationship?

What is the defining factor in the quality of a relationship?

What is the defining factor in the quality of a relationship?

Look at magazines, social media, television, romantic comedy film or just observe public places, our homes and places of work and we see we are surrounded by relationships. One constancy in life is relationships, even if you live on a lighthouse there is a relationship with the ships and their crews at sea.

As relationships are so prevalent in our lives, how often do we consider what defines the quality and type of the relationships we have? Is it the title? The role? Is it what it says in law/statute? Or what we are told in our families or at school that defines the way relationships are? Or what else is it that defines the standard of quality and care in relationships?

We know there are legal and contractual reasons why relationships are defined and delineated e.g., parents are custodians and carers for children; whilst children are at school, teachers have a duty of care; whilst at work employers have a duty of care for their employees.

And, we have multiple titles and roles in relationships and often wear a number of these so-called ‘hats’ with the same people we are in relationship with: mum, dad, daughter, son, wife, husband, friend, relative, aunt, cousin, neighbour, employee, customer, client, boss, partner, guardian, patient, carer, professional, plumber, doctor, teacher … the list of hats we wear is endless.

As there are so many different relationships, is it the case that with each relationship there is a consistency of care and respect in the way we are, no matter who the relationship is with? Or could we say that each relationship has its own set of conditions, expectations, boundaries, rules and ideals?

And, for all of the relationships we are in, one would think we would all be masters, experts in relationships, but are we?

It would seem not if we look at the fact that:

  • In 2021 police recorded 1,459,663 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes in England and Wales[1].
  • As of 2022, half a million children a year suffer abuse in the UK[2].
  • In 2020 an estimated 307,000 adults of working age in employment experienced violence at work, including threats and physical assault[3].
  • During 2021, England and Wales's police forces received 1,416,946 crime reports about anti-social behaviour[4].

And these are just some of the many daily headlines we see in the media or in our lives of what we might call more extreme relationship situations. And without looking at the media, or around at others, what do we experience in our relationships? We may experience arguments, feel tension between those around us and ourselves, feel let down by the behaviours of others e.g., when they don’t meet our expectations or demands, feel at sea when we don’t know where we stand with them, tire from the erratic roller coaster of relationships, feel drained after demands from friends or family, crushed by their expectations as to how we ‘ought’ to behave, or feel we never live up to their expectations.

Decades ago I was in a marriage with a kind and gentle man, but I was lonely despite the many friends and family members around us. I craved intimacy, and even with many people in my life who would be there to support, to talk with, there was a lack of something I could not put my finger on. And despite the marriage relationship being a reasonable relationship with no hardship or pressures as such, a husband who never raised his voice, always listened to me, was considerate in daily life and offered support when needed, I felt anxious a lot of the time. Also, in reflecting on the relationships in my life at that time I felt uncomfortable, awkward and unable to be open with those I was in relationship with, be it friends, family, relatives and or work colleagues. I felt as if I didn’t know how to be in relationship with those around me.

When considering why I felt this way, I couldn’t say in looking back to earlier times in my life the way I was in relationships with others was because of things that happened in my childhood, even though my father left my mother when I was young, and my mother then had a relationship with a man who was bad tempered and aggressive most of the time, but that wasn’t why I felt uncomfortable about relationships. I didn’t have any role models in my life where relationships were easy, flowing, consistently kind and caring, and whilst I often thought long and hard about it, I gave up on there being such a thing as a consistently kind, decent and caring relationship that was possible without conditions and demands.

Fast forward to recent times and I can now say I have relationships with people around me without conditions and demands. I don’t feel lonely or anxious. I don’t feel as uncomfortable in relationships and I have developed a consistency in the way I approach relationships whether that is with friends, family, work colleagues, the hairdresser, the person in my local dry cleaners or at the petrol station. The way I am in relationship with each of them has a consistent quality of care and openness – no matter the title or so called role of that relationship. I also have a more intimate, honest, caring relationship with myself – I am not harsh with expectations or demands in the way I go about my daily life.

So what changed? What then makes the founding of a relationship?

Is it the roles and rules and hats we wear that define our relationships? Do we observe our parents or those who raised us and take that as the standard of a relationship? Do we observe our school teachers, or people in our communities as setting the standards of our relationships? What if there was something else that founds all relationships no matter who they are with?

I became aware with the support of some wise counselling that for all the relationships in the world, there is something fundamental about the quality and consistency of relationships, which if affected, then means my relationship with myself and with everyone else doesn’t have a platform or standard of care upon which they can be based. Hence why daily life and relationships to that point had felt discombobulating as there was no consistent quality of foundation upon which to draw from.

What founds that quality is first and foremost my relationship with God. It is this one relationship that defines the quality of all relationships. A relationship with a quality of love, truth, harmony, joy, sacredness that sees life as not just the physical life we lead, but is beyond that.

Now whilst I don’t need to qualify this, I had sought high and low for decades in churches, temples, cathedrals and places of worship for a relationship with God or for a religion or culture that would be the answer to my constant discomfort with relationships. But I didn’t find it in any of those places, even at the foot of the Himalayas or the top of a mountain, out in nature or by the sea, I didn’t find an answer to my search for a relationship that would be the founding quality of my life and life itself.

Where I did find it was already deep inside of me all the time. The way I re-found God was through The Way of The Livingness.

I have come to realise that I, you, me, we are all the same deep inside. Yes, as the saying goes – cut into our skin and we all have red blood, but beyond the flesh we all have an innate ability to connect to God. And when in relationship with God, we have a consistency that is the foundation to our every interaction in daily life which founds the consistency of all other relationships. It is the anchor point if you will, from which everything else flows with the richness of the qualities of love, joy, harmony, stillness and truth.

How through The Way Of The Livingness did I deepen the quality of my connection to God? Initially I became sensitive to listening to my body, to acknowledging the level of sensitivity in what my body feels and senses, everything from the way I eat, sleep, move, exercise, rest, work, write and hold my posture. I began to observe life around me, and to be open to realising there is more to life than meets the eye. And to change the way I understand life.

Through all of this I have realised that without the connection to God, we are like leaves in the wind floundering around in daily living, including floundering in our relationships.

When we are in conscious relationship with God, we are in relationship with everyone in that same quality. And no matter the day, time of day, place e.g., work, home, local shops, that quality is with us as we relate, talk to, meet, connect with all those who are in our daily lives. And that requires no ‘hats’ or conditions as to how to be in those relationships as it is founded on a deep care for all. Yes, we may need a legal delineation such as a birth certificate for our children and be their guardians through parenting, or have an employment contract with our workplace. But even with those delineations, rules or guidelines, the quality of those relationships is based on our relationship with God as God is the defining factor in the quality of all our relationships.


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Filed under

Domestic violenceFamilyMarriageParentingRelationships

  • By Anonymous

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