I come from the Integrative Medicine field and study, as pioneered by Dr. Andrew Weil MD. My favorite key quote from the field is: “It’s easier and cheaper to prevent disease than it is to treat it.”
Can this be used in relationships a well?
Today I’d like for us to consider how the prevention of disease/“dis ease” may be the root modality towards happier relationships. And what you can do to experience more relational and marital bliss through the use of prevention. Here are 12 insights:
1. What Does Prevention In Relationships Look Like?
Prevention in relationships would be utilizing all of your focus and effort on constructive building. This requires a tremendous amount of clear communication in the beginning—as well as through the journey together.
The type of communication that is open and kind, but also uncomfortable because it’s necessary.
It’s about not letting the excitement; thrill; “honey-moon stage”; lust; or any other feeling over-ride the importance of establishing what is important to you and your would-be partner. Establishing boundaries and non-negotiables.
2. Because Prevention Holds Both You & The Other Accountable
I wrote about accountability here. You need to hold people accountable to who they say they are and communicating clearly WHERE they are in relation to you.
Now, people will charm and try to sweet talk their way into your life. They may pull out all the “rights” in “the book”. But it’s your due diligence to discover if this is all a ploy and self-marketing tactic; if they are sincere but are aiming “too high” and far beyond their abilities to be consistent; and/or if they are “really sweet” but lacks the maturity to be in relation to you.
3. Prevention Prevents Dis Ease
Of all the insights, remember this deeply. Disease within the mind or body comes from a severe lack of homeostasis. In biology, the fight for balance is lost and succumbs to an irregular and crumbling system: everything in the universe tries to achieve balance, including in your own body.
Relationships too are trying to achieve this at either an unconscious or conscious level. It’s a balance and power-play: two individuals are seeking autonomy and intimacy at the same time.
Strive for that while respecting, committing, & loving each other as individuals and as partners.
4. Prevention Requires Sacrifice
In Oncology, the study of cancer, they’ve researched that cancer is largely driven by lifestyle and environmental factors—only less than 10% is actually genetic.
We choose our experience and quality of life through our choices. And sacrifice is a huge part of prevention.
Just as one might sacrifice chain-smoking to have healthier and diseased free lungs, you will need to make sacrifices to prevent disease in a relationship. I AGREE that partners should be “accepted fully as they are” in a relationship—but this is not to argue that partners have nothing to improve; evolve; adapt; sacrifice, and adjust in a relationship or marriage.
Who we are as single, is [should be] different than who we are in a committed relationship.
You can never change a person, but it’s important to inspire and be supportive in presenting a difference in perspective or opinion if one exists.
5. Prevent By Being Self-Aware
Prevention is obtained by being self-aware: to who you are; what your needs are; and how the human mind works—including its range of emotion.
Emotions are part of every relationship. They exist in both the parties present. But in the case of emotions like jealousy, anger, disappointment, annoyance, fear…realize if you have the capacity to feel these: so does your partner.
And this range of emotions is all healthy to feel. How it’s expressed is the most important aspect of all. It’s unhelpful and wrong to belittle/invalidate how you or your partner feels—instead, it’s about being supportive to navigate that place of emotion together.
Especially being self-aware & accountable if certain actions or impulses exacerbate or trigger those emotions.
6. Prevention Is About Not Crossing The Lines
Prevention is about not crossing the damaging lines that changes a relationship and its dynamic forever. It requires MORE time and effort to attempt to “get back to that place”; the original baseline of what your relationship was.
All you can do is put effort into it being something different. Charting the uncharted new territories…and hopefully arising from that place, together.
What was once had, now exists only in the past. Locked away as a memory.
Because healing takes time. Apologies take time. Getting professional help takes time. Forgiving takes time. Trusting again takes time. Loving takes time—especially if a partner has been betrayed and hurt; they will often struggle to love themselves.
And that takes time.
7. Prevention Is About Respect
Prevention is about respect to your partner; to time and its impermanence; as well as to your needs and wants being met by the partner you chose. Respect isn’t exchanged as a meaningless word. It’s reflected in our actions to our partner.
The most respectful aspect of prevention is about being fair. It’s establishing guidelines and agreements that you both can commit to.
Be fair to your partner. What you ask of them, you must commit to as well. And never be a hypocrite…that’s a hard thing to be alone with after a breakup.
8. Prevention Is About Being Prepared
When people, societies, nations are not prepared—they suffer catastrophic suffering. The most recent pandemic and disasters are a sign of that.
I find it interesting how many are uncomfortable talking about and discussing hypotheticals. Now, in the case of those who are clinically diagnosed with Paranoid Personality Disorder (DSM F60.0) or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (DSM F60.5), this might not apply.
But for others, the discussion of simple hypotheticals is a way to investigate further into how a person assumes they would react. However, it’s important to establish that a person’s own self-analysis at best is a gamble on how they’d actually react in a situation.
It’s important to get a baseline understanding of how a person may react in a variety of situations: if they were being pursued by someone attractive while committed to you; what a constructive argument looks to them; what does healthy use of social media look like; etc.
If they fail to live up to their answers to those hypotheticals? That’s on them, not you. Their truth has been revealed.
9. Prevention Honors The Value Of Apologies
To apologize is a sign of a healthy relationship. When an individual at fault can own up and take responsibility, it’s a sign of maturity.
However, when an individual relies too much on apologies, it takes away its value. This is where prevention is valuable. Because I strongly believe you adopt the belief: “An apology = ‘I’m Sorry’ + Changed Behavior”
It’s no use to employ empty words of “I’m sorry” if the offense is done again: either willfully or due to lack of self-regulating. When a person can’t moderate themselves from offending—thinking before they act/react—they’ve exposed their most childish tendencies.
The point of mature relationships: to be an adult and reflect to ourselves, we ARE an adult.
10. Being An Adult Is Making The Hard Choices
Ask any loving and responsible parent. To provide required sacrifice to raise a family: physically, financially, emotionally, mentally, etc.
You will need to make hard choices if it means protecting your relationship/marriage/union from those on the outside who might not understand. Or from viewpoint, opinions, and advice that leans bias to the one giving it—remember, people project from their own experiences and internalized conscious or unconsciousness traumas, trials, and tribulations.
Always seek professional help and services. But your therapist or mental health care professional can only give you advice…they can never walk & live your life for you.
11. If You Aren’t Preventing, You Are Allowing
Have absolute faith in yourself. And when you are in a collaboratively loving and mature relationship, you need to have faith in each other—that you will do whatever is necessary to protect one another.
We put deadbolts on our doors. Two-factor authentication on sensitive online information. PIN to enter our banking checking and savings. Locks on our vehicle doors. Protection of our proprietary information. Sign contracts of Non-Disclosures. Security on our research & development at our technologically driven industry leaders.
We don’t leave what’s important to you public access for anyone to grab, access, and steal. “Jealousy” is often inappropriately used for a desire to protect the integrity of what is meaningful and valuable to you.
12. Prevention Is Not Jealousy
When a partner expresses their desire to protect their relationship, 9 times out of 10 they are accused of being “jealous”. But to prevent dis ease in a relationship is not jealousy.
We don’t call sacrificing smoking cigarettes for better health as “controlling”—do we?
Modern dating, relationships, and marriage have adopted the poor and short-sighted idea that somehow by establishing boundaries and protection in a relationship is “controlling”. But what’s not often discussed is where a person actually is on “The Monogamy-Polyamory Spectrum”.
That’s important to know about yourself—and your partner—where you both fall on the spectrum and how far from each other you are.
Finally, you can have a more enjoyable relationship by not willfully entering them oblivious that issues arise…they certainly always do.
We do ourselves—and our relationship—justice by openly and lovingly discussing what our needs and wants are. Establishing and expressing our standards explicitly through our words and actions.
But also by being the type of partner we can be relied on. Trust isn’t just about saying “just trust me”—it’s also about having the foresight to prevent and not being oblivious to putting ourselves in risky or suggestive circumstances that might send the signal we are open to advances or emotional/sexual availability behind our partner’s back. It’s a two-way street.
Be Well & Vibe Well,