There is no right path, only the path you take
Rivers draw us in, by rising from hidden places and meandering through paths that are constantly shifting and changing. Aiming at a destination, the river has a certainty with which it travels—exuding a feeling of comfort and peace.
With their intoxicating interplay between what they reveal and what they conceal, rivers can teach us about life and relationships…
The right path
A river can take many paths on course to its destination, some slow and steady, others turbulent and fierce. There is no right path, only the path it takes.
The notion of finding the “right” person is something we regard as highly complex, seldom straightforward, and imperative to be done as swiftly as possible in ones life. Many people will chase after this elusive person with remarkable ambition, waiting for an explosive spark to signal The One. We believe that this person will fulfill all of our many emotional, physical, and spiritual needs, and the spark will never fade…
It’s in the way you flow
Once we find this perfect person, we soon witness that they are in fact just another imperfect human. We may become frustrated and question the “rightness” of this person. The problem is not the person, but the burden of expectations we’ve placed on another human—perfection is a very tall order. Relationships are like new trails—if you expect to roll in and ride it like a pro, you’re going to be disappointed, and you may walk away from a good thing—missing out before you’ve begun.
Over an extended period of time, you will encounter challenges and the initial fire between two people changes, but that doesn’t mean you cannot be fulfilled by a warm and steady glow. There is no perfect person, but there is a good enough one—one that will be mutually kind, honest, and vulnerable. The truth is, any path we choose will be a little wrong—and so we shouldn’t agonize too painstakingly about the choice we make. Allow the relationship to flow like a river in its own natural rhythm — accept that there will be periods of closeness and periods of distance, times when we get along and times when we don’t.
Focus on the handful of important things such as, conscientiousness and empathy; demonstrated by a person who is able to say things like “Good point,” or “That’s interesting, tell me more” or, “You may be right, and I may be wrong”. The trail markers to a good partnership are revealed in how you speak to each other, how well you get along, how you handle conflict, and how well you move through time together.
The Science of Lasting Relationships
Science tells us that kindness is the number one thing that glues couples together. The research establishes the most important predictors of satisfaction and stability in relationships are 1. A partner who is gentle with our imperfections, 2. Can tolerate us as we are with good humour, and 3. One who seeks to understand in the most difficult of situations. When these three factors are present, we feel a certain contentedness and warmth that motives us to continually make things work.
More than compatibility
There is great happiness in life to meet a person who is different than us; differently constructed, dissimilar in views, and one who is confident to remain themselves without an aim to insinuate their views into our psyche, or meddle with our individuality. Differences can show us the world through a contrasting lens, helping us become a more balanced person.
Deep and enduring relationships involve a commitment to a person through differences and difficult circumstances. It is being curious and patient with another persons quirks and weaknesses, empathic with their insecurities and concerns, and honest even when it’s hard.
The right person is not simply the person who shares our likes, but someone who can negotiate mismatches and disagreements with grace and intelligence. It is the capacity to tolerate, and even admire the differences that contributes significantly to a mark of the right person.
Change is inevitable
As a river crosses ever-changing terrain and ebbs and flows with the seasons, so too will your relationship. Over the course of time, life will change tremendously. What activities brought you together might change, your health might be turned upside down, you might have new personal goals for yourself. More than anything, it is the communication and respect for this shifting that underpins a lasting relationship.
Rivers show us the poignancy that time runs in one direction only, and as we maintain our aim at the best possible outcome, we must appreciate the path we are on. Soak up what’s in front of you right now and each moment along the way…