By Lynn Seiser

The Alphabet of Successful Relationships


Remember when you learned to sing the alphabet in grade school? Almost everyone does. Everyone had to learn this simple song. Within this simple song is so much information. In fact, the English language communicated everything through the 26 letters of the alphabet. The letters create words. The words create sentences. The sentences create paragraphs, chapters, and books. The same letter can communicate love or hate. Let us see if we can create an alphabet that will help us have successful relationships. The idea here is to find words for what you want, state them in the positive, and make them personal.

A is for awareness. We accomplished very little without first becoming aware. I need to be aware of what I want. I need to be aware of what I need to do to get it. Then I have to allow myself to do it.

B is for betterment. I need to be aware that my life can be better. To change my life, I need to be better. To be better, I need to change my thoughts to better thoughts. I also need to believe that my life can, and will, be better.

C is for courage and compassion. Change can be scary. Courage is being scared but following through anyway. Compassion is realizing that whatever wrong I have done, or what was done to me, was done out of pain. Compassion heals pain. It takes courage to care enough to have compassion.

D is for discipline. It is easy to fall back into old habits. That’s all they are too, habit. We got used to doing things a certain way, so we continue them. Dare to keep disciplined, to keep practicing new ways until they too become habits.

E is for empathy and encouragement. Empathy is the willingness to see things from the other person’s point of view. Too often couples are so busy expressing themselves, trying to be heard, they forget to listen and hear what the other person is saying. With empathy comes a willingness to encourage the other person to move forward with what is important to them. Empathy and encouragement means everybody wins.

F is for forgiveness. Forgiveness reminds us not to take everything personally. Forgiving others releases both parties from past mistakes and allows them to learn. Forgiving is not forgetting. It is an acceptance that something was wrong that needed our attention and correction.

G is for goodness. It is important to see the goodness in both yourself and your partner. We all have good parts and some not so good parts. Goodness is not a judgment, but rather a positive frame of reference.

H is for healthy. To be a successful couple, both parties must attempt to be healthy in all they think, say, and do. It is honorable and helpful so each can actively participate and contribute to the relationship.

I is for intimacy. Intimacy means to become close and vulnerable to each other. Intimacy means to let some one see behind the roles and masks we wear. Intimacy is to let our love out and to let their love in. It is to be honest with who we are.

J is for non-judgmentalness. Yes, I know I said to keep it positive. Judgement is the root of most of our problems. Acceptance of each other as we are is the root of our healing. After all, isn’t that what all of us want? We just want love and acceptance for just the way we are, without judgment. This includes accepting others as they are without judgement.

K is for kindness and kinship. May we always remember we all belong together and that the kindness we show others will come back to us.

L of course is for love. It is interesting to note that all psychology (self-help and professional), philosophy, art, music, and spiritual programs teach the same lesson. The lesson is love. That is what life is for, loving.

M is for moving closer to each other and making memories that keep us that way. Relationships are a mutual dance of reciprocal movement. To move the other person, simply change your own motion and let the other change naturally in response to you.

N is for natural and nurturing. It is natural to want to share the journey and be close to another person. Many people suffer from depression because they feel too distant and detached. We naturally want to be near people who nurture us. They naturally want to be near us if we nurture them.

O is for openness and optimism. To be in a successful relationship we must be open to them and for them. We must maintain the opportunity of optimism about them, ourselves, and our lives together.

P is for positive potentials. Successful relationships share the positive potential of each person as active participants in the play. They each play their part and accept full responsibility and accountability for what they make together as partners.

Q is for quiet. We communicate many things with words. Yet, we communicate others best through appreciating the quiet times together.

R is for responsibility and responsiveness. Each person must take complete responsibility for their part of the relationship and become more responsive to the needs and wants of the other. To keep romance alive, we must remember to be realistic and reciprocate with real thoughts, feelings, and actions.

S is for selflessness and sexuality. Success builds on being aware and accepting of who the other person is and what they want without losing our own identity. One form of successful communication is the healthy and mutual expression of each person’s sexuality.

T is for together. A successful couple faces life together. Each person has their own problems that the other partner can support them through. Many of our problems are because we feel alone. Together and belonging help heal many old wounds.

U is for unified. Together we unify with each other without losing our own identity. We use what the other offers to balance us. The whole is greater than the sum of the two parts. We become more through unity. Let us remember our likeness, not just our differences.

V is for the virtues of victory. We appreciate virtues. Victories are simply responses to something successful. No real victories are ever won at the expense of the other person. There is no virtue or victory if either person feels like a victim.

W is for want and work. What do you really want from a relationship and are you willing to work for it?

X stands for the unknown. Many things in life are. That is what makes it a challenge. There are no guarantees. If we quit, we then guarantee failure.

Y is for you. A relationship is the place to both find and lose “you”. You find what is important to you personally (love) and you lose yourself in what is important to the other person (love, again). Relations are both about “you” but not all about “you”. Relationships are beyond the “why” of justification and explanation and into the awareness and acceptance of what is.

 Z is for zeal and zest. It is the zeal and zest that keeps us moving towards the goal of having a successful, loving relationship. Many readers would expect me to say Z is for Zen. Zen accepts all inclusively with laughter, the everyday divinity of everything, and everyone as it all simply is.

There is my initial offering for an alphabet that can help us remember how to have successful relationships. Use your own unique writing style to write the story you want to be your life. Remember that all important grade school song? The lyrics, scenes, and scripts we play and sing are the ones we write ourselves. What song will you sing today?

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey.

Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., is an internationally-respected psychotherapist in Seal Beach, CA with more than twenty years of direct clinical experience in recovery counseling for offenders and victims of violence, trauma and abuse. He is known for his work in “holistic” recovery from addictions with an emphasis on “healthy relationships.” Lynn may be contacted at (562) 799-1371. You may check out his website at    

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