Dictionary.com defines loyalty as “faithfulness to commitments or obligations”. I much prefer to think of loyalty in terms of commitments that are freely chosen, rather than obligations that have associations that are heavy, and bring up fears about being trapped. Because loyalty has so many positive benefits, it is a shame to be discouraged by the negative associations that can get in our way of moving into a higher level of well-being in our partnership. By realizing the huge benefits of cultivating loyalty as a signature strength, and seeing the many ways loyalty enhances our lives, our interest in and motivation to become adept in this area grows.
Loyalty is Contagious
Strengthening the loyalty bond is not a “have to”; it’s a “get to”. Rather than seeing loyalty from the point of view of sacrifice, we can see through the lens of enlightened self-interest. Demonstrating loyalty in all the possible ways we can think of is a direct and mighty way to strengthen the bond. And such a strong bond will invite our partner’s loyalty in return. There are many ways to enhance our life by cultivating the signature strength of loyalty. Consider these twelve practices, and see if you can discover others.
1. The most obvious demonstration of our loyalty is when we forsake all other possible lovers, to maintain sexual fidelity. In using self-restraint to resist temptation, we honor our vows of monogamy.
2. Consciously choosing to spend time together both doing the activities that we both enjoy, but in addition, stretch into our partner’s world by participating in those activities that my not be as pleasurable for us, but we choose to be a part of them because it means a great deal to our partner.
3. When we hear about disputes in our partner’s workplace, with family members, or friends, we can take our partner’s side whenever possible.
4. By standing untied together in the face of adversity, meeting life’s many challenges (health crises, financial and professional setbacks, losses, problems with children, family members and friends) our relationship grows in resilience and strength.
5. When having disagreements and arguments, to make every effort to see the issue from our partner’s point of view, to meet them part way, and to be on their side rather than an adversary, we are demonstrating that harmony in the relationship is more important than being right or getting our way.
6. By filing down our rough edges of being critical and judgmental, we create a peaceful household.
7. By showing up (rather than being detached, moving out of self-absorption, being withdrawn and neglectful) we begin to listen to their concerns, and by showing caring, our partner feels our loyalty to them.
8. When we look carefully inside ourselves before giving our word in an agreement, and only agree to those contracts that we actually are prepared to follow through on, we demonstrate our loyalty, and as a result, those honored agreements build trust.
9. When our partner is forgetful, disappoints, or breaks an agreement and we give them the benefit of the doubt, rather than blaming them for their error, we show our loyalty.
10. Knowing what our partner wants and helping them to get it is a powerful way of demonstrating that their needs and desires are just as important as our own. In offering our support to assist them in reaching their goals, we assure our partner of our loyalty to them.
11. By rejoicing and celebrating their successes with sympathetic joy.
12. By focusing on our gratitude for all the many ways they have been loyal to us, supported us over our years together, stretched into our world, made peace around difficult issues, and were forgiving about our imperfections, our appreciation shows itself in reciprocating by being loyal to them.
When these kinds of behaviors are practiced consistently, not in a sacrificing way, but done with a full-hearted orientation, the bond between the couple flourishes. Don’t take our word for it, look to your own experience and see what loyalty in its many forms has brought to your life already, and see the ways in which these practices will enhance your partnership even further.
Linda Bloom L.C.S.W. has served as psychotherapist and seminar leader practicing relationship counseling almost forty years. Check out her OMTimes Bio.
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