Most people entering long term, committed relationships have very few relational skills. A good relationship, like any other endeavor worth pursuing in life, takes practice, skill, time, and determination. We are trained from very early in life to focus on finding our soul mate; meeting, courting, and marrying, or at least moving in together, absorb all the attention of every fairy tale, chick flick, and romance novel. What happens next is left in a rosy haze of romantic fantasy.

Truth is, getting there is the easy part. Staying there, by contrast, requires constant, daily attention. Two people come together with a full complement of baggage from families, prior relationships, needs and unspoken expectations. How are we to blend together effectively, then constantly flex to stay current with each other as both individuals traverse a long developmental trajectory, meanwhile dealing with life — children, losses, careers, relocations, and so on?

Talk about complicated! But we are led to believe that, with the “right” person, intimate partnership just happens naturally, and magically remains fulfilling and happy “for ever after.” Nonsense! A good partnership requires daily communication, negotiation around every issue from frequency of sex, to division of labor, to where to set the thermostat. Infinite issues can snag us, creating resentment and disappointment as we inevitably fail to meet each other’s expectations, disappoint and hurt each other.

The glory of all this is that, as reasonable adults, we can talk about every bit of it. If we can set aside our pride and unrealistic wish that our partner could magically read our mind and do and say exactly what we want, we have a chance. If we can accept the fact that we are not always going to be able to please our partners, because we also have to be true ourselves, we have a chance. We believe that every relationship is a cross-cultural experience. We have to learn each other’s languages of love, anger, fear, and vulnerability, and learn to translate accurately. Let us facilitate this kind of honesty between you, help you to transcend your own narrow view to see one another more clearly, and move into a full enjoyment of the blended nation you can create in your life, a place so full of opportunities for activity and enjoyment.