“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Regret is about lost opportunities—wishing you could hit life’s rewind button and orchestrate things differently (i.e., say what you wanted to say, act in accordance with your higher self). It’s only with the benefit of hindsight and with a more flexible perspective that we’re able to see how things could have or might have been different.
The punishing mantra of regret: “If I only _________ (fill in the blank)”; or “Why did I (or didn’t I) say/do __________.”
We all presently have the opportunity to create lives full of debilitating regrets, and, inversely, create lives that leave little room for regret’s unwelcome strangle-hold. What follows are ten suggestions to help you build a regret-free marriage or relationship.
Relationship Help: 10 Principles of a Regret-free Relationship (or marriage)
1. Take ownership of your feelings, behaviors and decisions—(be your own agent for change);
2. Replace pride and haughtiness with humility and gratitude;
3. Sincerely apologize for your missteps (and show others that you’ve learned from them);
4. Always try to do the best you can—regrets often arise from the realization that you’ve lived a life of complacency and inertia;
5. Set the goal of practicing acceptance, compassion and forgiveness daily (start with yourself: all other-directed compassion radiates from self-directed compassion);
6. Respect and learn from the challenging differences that exist between you and your partner (as well as others);
7. If you find yourself acting in ways that are self-destructive, cruel, hurtful, or uncaring, seek help and support;
8. Stop making excuses for the inexcusable;
9. Make self- and relationship-growth your mantra—and don’t expect this growth to be easy or linear (setbacks are the norm);
10. Honor and respectfully speak your deepest truths (a life lived behind masks of falsity and unspoken truths is a recipe for regret).
The above list is in no way exhaustive. Consider these suggestions a set of guidelines or ideals to work toward. Pick the ones that are the most meaningful and relevant to your life and/or create some of your own. Living a regret-free life is built on a foundation of responsibility—and it’s also a life-long work in progress for most of us.
Wishing you a regret-free relationship!
Dr. Rich Nicastro