7 Secrets of a Great Relationship

Dr. Matthew Anderson

Glee Contributor

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I thought it would be useful to provide some straight-from-the-heart advice about magnificent relationships. Sooner or later almost everyone finds themselves in an intimate relationship. Too often, in my opinion, they end up being mediocre at best and painful at worse. I imagine you know all too well what I mean. You were "there," and you wish it could have been better than it was (or is right now).

I am convinced that relationships of any quality are not mysteries. It takes specific ingredients to create a mediocre or a painful connection with another person. Sadly, most of us create serial relationships of minimal quality with maximum blame on our partner’s inadequacies and never seriously search for the real reasons that things went bad. We simplistically believe that a new partner will be the solution.

That "creative" idea will usually fail and nothing truly new will occur until we include new attitudes and behaviors in our relationships. (The definition of neurotic is "doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time.")

What does it take to create a magnificent relationship? If it is not a mystery, then what are the basic ingredients? I have listed my seven secrets below. I consider them secrets because I rarely, if ever, hear them discussed by couples, marriage counselors or the media. They are, however, powerful contributors to the creation of a relationship (marriage) that is wonderful, strong, growing and life-transforming.


1. PARTNERSHIP. The old gender-based, role-defined model for successful marriage is dead (it died in the 20th century) and the new, evolving model is one of equal partnership in which all responsibilities are shared and/or negotiated based on ability, time and willingness.

2. INTIMACY. Intimacy is now the ultimate goal of committed partnership. It means open-hearted, deep sharing and the possibility of being truly known and accepted by another human being. A relationship without intimacy is no relationship at all. Intimacy requires a set of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills that can and must be learned to create a magnificent relationship.

3. LOVE BEYOND CHEMISTRY. This means making a deep commitment to support the very best in and for your partner, no matter how difficult this may be, and doing it all in a context of forgiveness and compassion.

4. RADICAL COMMITMENT. Most marriages fail because neither partner is willing to find the courage and depth in their own hearts to say and mean the following: "There is nothing you could do to cause me to leave you." Once this is said, unexpected and miraculous avenues of healing and growth appear.

5. SPIRITUALITY. Two partners must be held together by a relationship with a divine and unconditionally loving source. It gives their connection a meaning, a purpose and a reason to be, and a resource that sustains, heals and guides them through all of the challenges of life together.

6. 100 PERCENT AND 100 PERCENT. This is the "no blame policy." Participants in ALL mediocre and painful marriages are experts at identifying their partner’s faults and blaming them for the marital difficulties. This 100 percent means that each partner looks first and most deeply at his or her contributions to any and all problems.

7. WORK ON IT! Magnificent marriages are made, not born. They are the result of day-to-day effort by both partners. This includes study, workshops, therapy, inner-work and monies dedicated to the health and welfare of the relationship for as long as the two shall live. If you are not willing to work on it, then you are not grown up enough to be married (in my humble opinion). If you work on it, you will reap wonderful benefits.

I understand that each of the seven ingredients above is far too brief in description. However, I suggest you take the list and discuss it with your partner and see what occurs. Hopefully, it will spark a productive conversation that will move you a step or two closer to magnificence.

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