A Principle for Lifelong Meaningful Relationships

I do not know much about relationships. Even if my perspective on how to have great ones was good, I would contend that I am still too young to know. All I know is that I still have a lot to learn.

That said, I am a man of principles and so this Valentine’s Day I figured I would share a “principle for lifelong meaningful relationships” from this post that I read after seeing this tweet, both from Ray Dalio, a man who seems to know a thing or two about relationships. Ray is the founder of Bridgewater Associates (one of the largest hedge funds in the world) and the author of Principles, a book which has been sitting on my bookshelf unread for too long. I have copied the excerpt of the first principle below for ease of reference. Happy Valentine’s Day.

What creates and sustains truly great relationships (like great marriages and great partnerships) is the unwavering belief that nothing is more important than the relationship.

That’s because in all relationships there will be bad times and disagreements including very big and important ones, and what is required to sustain relationships through those bad times and large and small disagreements is the belief that no issue is more important than the relationship. It is that belief and the mutual demonstrated commitment to it that creates the willingness to work things out so that the bad times and the disagreements are gotten through together. Each needs to give that type of commitment and to see the other give it in order to have the great relationship. If you both believe hard enough that that’s true and operate as though it is true, it will probably become true, and if you don’t believe it’s true or you don’t act as though it’s true it doesn’t have a chance of becoming true. It is that demonstrated that is true love.

Of course, in the early stage of a relationship there is no reason to believe that nothing is more important than the relationship and that the mutual commitments are there because that hasn’t been well tested. Because of that, you just have to have faith that it’s true and act as if it’s true and then see if the other person does the same. And of course, just the belief that the relationship is more important than the issues will not matter if the issues are really more important than the relationship. So, when facing those challenging bad times and disagreements in a relationship, and when making those important calls of what’s most important, you need to think hard about how important the relationship you have really is relative to how important getting your way is because the decisions you will make at those times either strengthen your relationship or weaken it.”