Richard Stride: Fostering love through communication, compromise, connection and commitment


Who doesn’t like a love story?

Lasting love is more difficult to achieve, but certainly not impossible.

We just celebrated Valentine's Day, which got me thinking of my mom and dad. My mom and dad were married in June 1954. My dad was 21 and my mom was 16 (mom was truly just a kid when they married). At the time, it was not uncommon for girls to marry young, as odd as that might seem today. 

My dad passed away in 2017. My mom lasted until 2019 without dad. Mom and dad were married for over 65 years. As I look back on their relationship, and as I watched them interacting growing up, I can note they did not have a perfect relationship. They had their ups and downs, but what kept them together was something deeper than mere physical attraction. 

They had to work at it. Longevity came from learning to communicate and being committed to one another.    

I read an article recently titled “The key to being a happy couple: The four C’s” by Peter L. Sheras. He states, “There is a natural tension between individualism and the kind of collectivism that being a couple represents. Here’s how to bridge the gap between the needs of the individuals and the real joy and power of a healthy couple. The four C’s are communication, compromise, connection and commitment.” 

There are variations of the four C’s. Shera’s version encapsulates what I saw in my parents and what I believe are keys to a successful relationship.  Let's take a deeper dive into the four C’s.  

Communication is always key. Without communication, relationships die. Communication is always two ways. It is never one way. A good rule of thumb is to reflect on what you heard the other person say. Miscommunication happens all the time. If you do not reflect on what you heard, you may never know what the intent is. 

Couples, just like all of us as we interact with each other, may not say exactly what they mean.  Since we don’t always say what we mean, our message may not get across. For example, when your partner says, “We never spend time together.” Instead of trying to convince them that you indeed do spend a lot of time together, take the message for what it is. It's not a challenge to you to try to prove otherwise. It’s a statement that more than likely implies, “I miss you.” 

Compromise — this is a big one. Couples who do not learn to compromise end up separating.  Stubbornness, or an unwillingness to compromise, will get you nowhere except a broken bond.  A relationship is not about winners and losers. It is about two people coming together with different instruments and playing the same song. When you communicate with your loved one, don’t think you have to get the last word in. Being in a relationship is not like being in competition. Relationships are to help us grow and become better, not bitter.     

Connection is key to the stability and longevity of a relationship. Sheras goes on to say, “Focus on fun, and making good memories … Take on challenges … Supporting one another … Cherish your partner. Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.”

Are we afraid to be the one that loves the most? Probably, but why?  For some it may be because we don’t want to get hurt if the relationship ends.  So we withhold all of us in order to protect ourselves. For love to last, we must give all of ourselves to another. In connection with another, there must not be any holdbacks.

Commitment is the last C.

“Trust your partner, and don’t give into jealousy or insecurity. Don’t be a jerk or call your partner names … Accept both you and your partner will change over time … Love isn’t just a matter of luck; it requires dedication and a good attitude,” Sheras wrote.     

Keep the C’s in mind when thinking about your relationships. Don’t be afraid to be the one that loves the most. They can be applied to any relationship, not just romantic ones.  Your relationships, all of them, will be better if you apply these principles.     

Richard Stride is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at