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3 Necessities for a Thriving Relationship

The road trip of intimacy can be a lot easier if you bring along your road kit. In your relationship, the kit includes love, honesty, and inner growth. Dr. Craig Martin explains why intimacy is incomplete without all three in his book, Elemental Love Styles: Find Compatibility and Create a Lasting Relationship.

Love is perhaps the most ethereal and hard to define of these three. It’s part desire and part caring. Desire is more like the passion part of love, and caring is more like the nurturing, protective, and “concerned for someone’s welfare” part. When combined, the desire and the caring add up to a feeling that makes us want to be with someone. You wouldn’t take this trip if you didn’t want to be with the other person. The enjoyment in spending time together is the starting point.

Love, you already know, is a huge part of your relationship. Love makes it possible to share yourself with someone. It keeps you at the table. When the going gets tough, love works its magic and you stay connected. When you love the other person on the road trip, you’re more likely to care when things go wrong. But love itself does not a relationship make.

Honesty is also essential. Without it, you can’t have a meaningful relationship. It is difficult to imagine how any relationship can survive without honesty. That’s why honesty needs to be in the road kit.

Sadly, dishonesty is a key reason why relationships don’t work out. I can’t begin to count the number of times that one deception or another has led to a lack of trust in a relationship. Often, distrust is the end of a relationship altogether. I’m not referring only to infidelity. There are many ways to be dishonest.

Maybe when I agreed to go on this journey, I didn’t tell my partner that I can’t drive after dark and that I need to stop every two hours for a bathroom break. Worse yet, I lied about it and let my partner find out in the middle of the ride. Yikes! That wasn’t fair or honest! Then there’s another whole layer to honesty. Part of the honesty within intimacy is honesty with yourself. It’s the self-honesty you have about your own actions, words, or personality. On the road trip, perhaps you’ve tried to control your partner’s driving. By taking an honest look at yourself, you notice your behavior. Then you become conscious that you’re a backseat driver. You’ve told your partner to drive with both hands on the wheel, where to make a turn, and how closely to follow the car in front of you. You ask yourself, “Is my partner really driving badly?” If not, you ask, “Why is it so hard for me to let go and give my partner some space?” This is where intimacy begins to get tough. Can you “own your stuff” and be honest about it? The love part—well, that comes naturally, but honesty is not always so easy.

Inner Growth

Inner growth is built on self-honesty. It is the third quality that’s essential for intimacy. Relationships make you grow, and that’s something you need to accept as part of the process. If you have a desire to grow and a realization that you’re not already perfect and that you have room to be better, then that helps your relationship from the start.

Between love, honesty, and inner growth, it is inner growth that presents the greatest challenge. That’s because we all struggle with change, and inner growth is about changing yourself.

People express a beautiful sentiment when they say, “My relationship brings out the best in me.” This means that when you are with your intimate partner, you are growing in a positive way.

On the road trip, your partner is someone you want to share with, explore with, treat with politeness, act kindly toward, and treat well in general. When you’re with your partner and being your best self, you like yourself. That’s a really good thing to find out, and it comes from inner growth.

Whether it’s a conscious or unconscious choice, inner growth is a major reason that people seek relationships. It is like this mysterious benefit. You enjoy this wonderful love experience, plus you get to learn about and live honestly with another person and grow for the better. What could be more fulfilling? No wonder you want a good relationship!

Intimacy is a process of honesty,
reinforced by love that causes inner growth.

Dynamic Inner Growth, You Dig?
Inner growth is what happens when you look at your personality and decide to make a change. It always happens in good relationships—not because your partner wants to change you but because you want to change yourself into a more loving person.

The word “dynamic” means change, so the inner growth that causes us to change is called dynamic inner growth, or DIG. Three qualities—love, honesty and inner growth—are necessary for intimacy, but DIG presents the greatest struggle. It’s difficult because changing yourself is hard, even though it makes you a better person.

Dynamic inner growth (DIG)
is the self-chosen, personal change that
happens when you reflect on your own actions,
behaviors, and thoughts.

People always say that “relationships are work,” and it is your personal inner growth that is that work. Anytime you do work on yourself, not only do you grow for the better but your partner and relationship benefit too.

On the car ride, you and your partner need to decide so many things. What’s your driving speed? Who’s going to drive, when, and for how long? What music will you listen to? Where will you stop along the way?

Negotiating all these choices can be fun, and mostly it’s easy. When you and your partner are in agreement, the best parts of your personality show up. But when you don’t agree, the less desirable parts of your personalities can emerge. That’s when you might “act out.” You might speak harshly, clam up, be insulting or judgmental, and then . . . inner growth is the only way to move forward!

Dr. Craig Martin, author of Elemental Love Styles: Find Compatibility and Create a Lasting Relationship (Copyright 2010 by Craig Martin), is an interfaith minister, relationship and spiritual counselor, and celebrity astrologer. He lives in Los Angeles, where his main counseling practice is located and also maintains a New York office for his bicoastal clients. Prior to his ministerial work, Dr. Martin was a licensed chiropractor and homeopath. Martin has been featured on television as a relationship expert, and is in demand as a speaker and teacher nationally.



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