When Muhammad Ali passed away last week, I discovered this video clip of him answering a question that was asked by a little boy many years ago. The question was, “What will you do when you retire from boxing?” The Greatest of All Time’s answer was undoubtedly unexpected and stunned the crowd. Watch this video and listen closely to this interview for just a few minutes.
Now, think about Muhammad Ali’s message and how it might relate to you, and the way you have conducted your interpersonal relationships. Let’s get even more granular…specifically, I mean your relationships with past partners or spouses. As you strive to better understand your personal history and prepare to apply those lessons in future relationships, are you proud of your previous behaviors and actions? Can you truly say you did the best you could, as difficult as it may have been at times, to create a healthy relationship, by treating your partner with respect while practicing self-love? You may want to take a moment to do a little introspection. Start by asking yourself these questions, regardless of whether your previous relationships ended expectedly or unexpectedly.
1) try to actively listen and understand my partner’s point of view, rather than passing judgment?
2) assert myself when it was appropriate and set proper boundaries, so my partner could understand what was important for me and what I expected from him or her?
3) find ways to encourage and support my partner, even when I wasn’t fully participating in his or her passion?
4) manage to push self-interest aside and focus on what was good for the relationship?
5) focus on developing as an individual within the relationship while at the same time supporting my partner’s growth?
6) strive to be flexible and adaptable when compromise was needed?
7) release the rein of control and get rid of possessive behavior, to give my partner space and time to be who they were?
8) show kindness and compassion toward my partner on a consistent basis?
9) recognize and appreciate my partner’s uniqueness, rather than trying to change him or her to fit my ideal image of what they should be?
10) have open, honest communication about major and minor issues in order to find joint resolution and experience an authentic relationship?
11) demonstrate trust and faith in my partner’s ability to do what was right for the relationship?
12) recognize that emotional and physical intimacy were keys to a healthy relationship, and attempt to find common ground with my partner?
As Muhammad Ali emphasized in his video, our journey on this earth is short before we reach our final destination. We don’t have much time to get it right. Before we rush into the next relationship, let’s make sure we take stock of our experience, assume ownership for our past mistakes and correct them before going forward. Rather than focusing on having an outstanding career or financial success in life, let’s make it a point to become a “human success” as individuals and as partners in our relationship.
My book, Ring EXchange – Life Lessons from a Multiple Marrier, is all about just that – Finally Getting It Right!