Finish the following sentence in 10 words or less:

“A good relationship is like…” A dance? A comfortable  sofa? The just right wine with candlelight and a perfect night out? The last two lines of a love sonnet?

A thousand possible answers and then some. The best answer, however is that any good relationship is ultimately like itself, like no other before or ever. And one that works. It is created by itself or rather by the choices of both who are in it. “Good” means alive, healthy, honest and growing. And constantly changing.  “Generally,” because every relationship has its down times or unhealthy phases that threaten its viability. But in up times or down times good relationships don’t just “happen.”  They need to be worked at all the time; not just by one or the other but by the couple together.

 A good relationship is like a creatively woven fabric, finding its own pattern, having its own purpose. The warp and weave energies and the choices of those creating it can produce anything from a work of art to something blatantly practical or numbingly predictable. Ideally, the piece, however it evolves, works for both who create it.

At the risk of generalizing:

Irish knit relationships provide a couple a lot of breathing space, are comfortably informal, warm and cozy. A homebody kind of feel to them – a fireplace, slippers, appetizing aromas from the kitchen, bare, textured floors and a simplicity of furnishings.

Pinstripe, tweed, herringbone relationships feel more worked at, self-conscious, traditional, on the move (upward), and more aware of what’s outside than within. Professional, social and always proper, their home welcoming and a showplace of achievement.

Needlepoint relationships are beyond tight. Possessive, locking-in energies rooted in mutual need for security and a need of “other” for wholeness. Mirror images, wearing identical Hawaiian prints, bowling shirts or biker tights. Partners rarely apart.

Caricatures?  Certainly. And many relationships are hybrids. Still, the above types are not without insights.

The perfect relationship is as mythical as the perfect marriage. Both can experience perfect moments which is about how long perfection lasts this side of Eden. But a healthy relationship works,  even with its imperfections, and lives and grows in and out of the realities of the warps and weaves of the choices couples make in the name of caring and mutual love.

The challenge for any relationship is to choose what works, not just for one but for both. The measure of success in meeting its challenges, whatever the look or feel of it, is time and the depth of love both bring to and find in it.