Last week I wrote about the three stages of relationships, and the four variables we will usually experience if we get to stage three. If you missed that article, please read it first:
This week we’ll start with three suggestions for how to stay in a relationship and not leave emotionally.
How To Stay
Suggestion I: You can’t heal what you can’t feel so you have to start by being present to what you feel.We get to experience a wonderful sense of well-being when we let our feelings in and out. There is energy present at the core of our feelings and that energy is a healing force.
All of our feelings are valid. Because we may have been punished for them when we were children, doesn’t mean what we felt was wrong. I know it can seem risky to share what we feel, but when we express our feelings in a safe place to a safe person, the payoff is a sense of peace and relief.
If you and partner do not share a sense of safety with each other, it is probably better to seek counseling. Nothing will make us run quicker than being honest with someone and having them throw our honesty back in our face.
Suggestion II Be willing to be intimate. This means in-to-me-see and is about seeing yourself and letting others see you as you are. I know someone who doesn’t want her partner or anyone to see her without a wig on and makeup. Without a doubt, there is a lack of intimacy there. As with sharing our feelings we need to feel safe with someone to pull back the curtain and let them see us.
Suggestion III Be willing to pay attention to how you avoid being present. Some stay in the past and their life is full of guilt and trauma. Others stay in the future and are filled with fear about what might happen. And there are those who stay stuck in both.
Learning to stay present to the now is not an easy task because most of us have spent our lives learning how to avoid, deny, pretend, and push things away. I was talking to someone the other day about something I was experiencing and her advice was to get busy and think about something else. Hearing that response reminded me that most want to do just that—avoid what they’re feeling and thinking. The downside to avoidance is we don’t get to process the feelings. To avoid is to give whatever we’re denying license to hang around.
How to Have Better Communications
The topic communications is a seminar in itself. Communication is more than how we speak. It’s our body language, how we listen, our innuendos, and the tone of our voice.
The first question to ask ourselves about our communication is, are we telling the truth? We can speak all of our words perfectly, our body language can be perfect and our tone just right, but if we’re not speaking our truth, forget it.
The second area to pay attention to is watching whether your communication is about what you’re not getting and don’t want, blame and make wrong, or fault-finding. If it is, you’re probably needing to win at the others expense.
Not telling the truth and negative communication is based on unresolved issues. A lot of the way we speak is how we heard our family speak to each other and to us. It takes work to dissolve unresolved issues, but it is certainly do-able, especially in a loving, safe environment.
Creating a Forum for Communications:
I. At least three evenings a week, make time to share with each other:
A. Something that happened during your day
B. Something you wonder about, are not sure about, or a question.
C. A complaint and how you feel about it
D. Something you appreciate
E. A wish,hope, or dream.
You might want to pick a different one for each night. My husband and I share something we like about each other and something we like about ourself. Another one we do is to share three gratitudes with each other from our day.
II. Have monthly financial meetings where you go over your budget, projects and any money issues.
III. Write a purpose for your relationship and goals.
Since commuication is the basis of a relationship, we must be willing to make and follow a few rules.
A. Do not insist on quick resolutions. It is wise to remember that some issues have NO resolution. Sometimes we just need to accept that something or someone is the way it is.
B. Stay focused on the now. Avoid “always” and “never.” (This is a rule Paul and I made six years ago and we follow it faithfully.)
C. Avoid blame. Consider the possibility that no one has to lose and both can win.
D. Avoid name calling. The question is: Do you want to hurt your partner or do you want to resolve your issue?
E. Stay with your own feelings and own them. This means making I statements instead of you. (I feel instead of you know when you feel….)
F. Acknowledge each others feelings. It is very disheartening to have our feelings invalidated. If I tell you I’m sad, please don’t tell me I have nothing to be sad about. Instead, acknowledge me and my feelings by letting me know you hear me and asking if I’d like to talk about it.
G. Stick to the issue and avoid, “and another thing.”
Nurture the Relationship
1. What did you do in the romance stage that you would like to do again? Get together with your partner, make a list of those things and do them.
2. Take turns planning a surprise once a week. Maybe a candlelight dinner, a bubble bath together, a movie, bowling, a massage, etc.
3. Practice playing together. It’s vital that you have fun with your partner. Being able to laugh at yourself, a good joke, and life, is paramount in working on a relationship.
4. Turn your TV and computer off and take a walk with your partner. Or spend the evening playing a board game, or yikes, just talking.
In a perfect world, relationships would be easy. It takes effort, attention, willingness, and commitment to support a healthy relationship. Ignoring issues, getting lost in TV land or computer games, and staying busy will not heal the differences we have that stand in the way of our relating to each other.
Are you in a relationship that needs working on? Are you both willing and ready to do what is necessary? If you are, I suggest any of the following:
1. Find a GOOD, well-qualified couples counselor
2. Find a GOOD, well-qualified therapist for each of you individually
3. Pick up a copy of “Getting the Love That You Want” by Harville Hendrix and read it together. (see my sidebar to order the book)
4. Together, find and attend relationship building workshops
5. Work on all of the issues written about in this blog
To schedule a relationship building program in your area, please click on Programs Offered at the top of this page.