Couples - How to have an Outstanding Relationship
"It’s not working"; "He/she doesn't listen to me"; "I’m always the one who’s wrong"; "I'm sick of keeping the peace"; "We're just not communicating..."
Sound familiar? Most couples experience the above at some time in their relationship until, eventually, it gets so bad that one (or both) will seek help to try and save their relationship. The question is: How did it spiral so far out of control? How come they are so unhappy?
Sometimes it’s because one partner is more dominant and the other is conflict avoidant; oftentimes, the one who is generally passive will decide one day that “Enough is enough, I'm out of here”, and the other is left speechless as they "didn't see it coming" - funnily enough, everyone else did.
Another scenario is the 'perfect couple': all their friends and neighbours think they are great together, and then one day they announce their divorce, or one has an affair that shocks everyone. These things don't just 'happen'... What was your part in it? Let’s rewind before the breakdown of communication. What was your mindset? How were you behaving? Did you avoid ‘real’ discussions about the important things?
Was it uncomfortable talking about things that matter to you because:
- you don't feel listened to
- you are told it’s your fault or you're being silly
- you fear aggression/put downs
- your old ‘patterns’ do not allow you to communicate properly
- you worry in case they leave you
- you cannot accept you may be wrong
- you focus on the negative in your partner instead of looking internally at yourself
- your temper is out of control
- you're fearful it may bring ‘stuff’ up for you
Let’s get out of ‘blame’ here for a moment and look at your responsibility; no-one can speak up for you but you. When something goes ‘wrong’ in your relationship, how do you handle it? Do you whine, blame, get angry, withdraw, do anything to keep the peace?
It’s important to discover why you do these things. First thing is to recognise patterns from childhood; low self-esteem, bullying, etc... These things have probably been in your subconscious from being a child. Get help for it. This will enable you to improve your communication skills and increase your self development.
There are many strategies you can both begin using straight away for better communication and being more compassionate:
Rule No.1; you have to both agree to it. Discuss if you do still love each other and want to be together.
It’s always better if you have more goals for yourself than for your partner. How do you aspire to be in this relationship?
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
What are your 'triggers'? What 'presses your buttons? Tell them and vice versa.
What do you need from your partner to help you respond better and help them respond better to you (this is one of the most important strategies you can learn)?
People will generally work harder not to lose something than to gain something. If you continue doing the same old, same old, because it’s not that bad, things could be worse, etc, then make sure that’s a conscious choice, not some old tape playing from the past.
If, however, you want to have the best relationship you can, then be prepared to put the work in, and create the kind of life you want together. You both have to work on your own self-development, so get help on your ‘blind spots’.
When you start the first steps, there will be many old patterns that keep cropping up for both of you, but being mindful will help you change them. There will be little ‘wins’ on the way, lots of frustration and many insights for both of you.
The really wonderful part is that, when couples start doing this with the intention of being as good a partner as they can (which doesn't mean being a doormat) and feel the compassion for themselves and each other, the relationship starts to blossom; there’s more inner peace, general happiness and it can become even better than before, because they put the work in - mainly on themselves.
All good relationships need working at; they are a work in progress, forever - that’s what makes them so good and why they last. Problems in relationships can be either a real ‘downer’ or an ‘opportunity’ to develop and strengthen yourself emotionally, your esteem and your relationship. You can only win! Make that choice, you'll be glad you did!
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