By understanding your partner more (easier said than done)
“A conscious relationship is one in which people are awake to themselves, their feelings and thoughts and are open to the flow of love and attention with one another” G&K Hendricks – Co-Committed.
Your Partner Doesn’t Have To Be Your Best Friend
It’s such a perfect scenario, your other half is also your best friend…..very lucky if this is you, the best of both worlds BUT if this is not you, don’t fret, they don’t have to be your best friend but over time as you grow you will have a deep friendship and that is a very good thing.
Marriage is different to friendship (Marriage meaning close committed partnerships)
The relationship with your spouse/partner is different, close friends are unconditional, marriages are not (believe it or not).
Close friendships do not contain the sacrifices and personal learning that your marriage will bring into your life.
Marriages come with the good and the bad, you are vulnerable with your partner in a way you can’t be with your friends.
Marriage transcends friendship and holds the space for complete intimacy
Close friendships outside the marriage are key as they keep you grounded in who you are, you can share things outside of the relationship that you frankly may not want to tell your partner and are a sign of healthy grounded person leading to a grounded and solid marriage/partnership.
Couple Counselling leads to change and change in relationships is hard
What do couples want?
- To communicate better
- To have more intimacy
- To get back to how it was
- To stop fighting over the same stuff
Every relationship should fulfill the above, so what stops that from happening? Often one or both does not want to face the changes being sought. We all live in an externally focused world, we want our surroundings and the people in it to give us what we want, yet simultaneously, making these changes internally is hard. Below are some reasons why we aren’t getting what we want:
We’re being emotionally reactive – when we’re not triggered we can express our wants, needs and desires from our rational mindset. Once we try to deal with these things we tend to be triggered and so respond from our emotional brain.
You aren’t really listening to each other – As the other one is talking, you are thinking about how you want to respond. You can’t improve communication and intimacy if it’s run like a debate at PMQ’s.
You aren’t allowing your partner to change – If you have asked for changes from your partner, know that you have a responsibility too to support that change. If, for example, you don’t let them show you their efforts for change but repeatedly bringing up the past due to unresolved anger, hurt or resentment, then you are stuck in a pain cycle, not progressing or growing and ultimately, denying yourself what want.
Ways to help break the cycle and bring about change
Stay in the Adult you. I often explain to clients the TA (transactional analysis) model of Parent, Adult, Child, notice when talking to your partner which position your are responding from. Are you being petulant (child) and you criticising your partner (parent) or are you being rational and fair (adult). Notice when you feel triggered and are not able to respond as an adult…..
Take A Break – very simple, yet effective, don’t keep hammering at one another until you both say something you regret, take 20 mins to clear your head, think and get out of reactivity. Essentially, be your own parent in this moment.
Agree to practice reflective listening – As I said earlier, when we are triggered, we are thinking about what’s going on in our own minds, not what’s being said to us. To really hear each other, take turns to listen and reflect back what was said to you, ask your partner, “did I get that right?” “Is there more?” If the answer is no, swap roles and get good at listening.
Attend to emotional pain without reactivity – If there are unresolved emotional issues please give the emotional attention they deserve. Do NOT express your emotional needs when triggered. As I said above, this does NOT work. By improving the way you communicate, learning to listen, you will become less triggered over time, more able to talk without blowing up. You both deserve to talk and be heard.
This is the hard work part and it is hard work so be kind to yourself and to each other. Agree to commit to doing things differently. Remember if you keep doing things like you did, they will be as they always were. Change means change.
Committed relationships/partnerships/marriages are wonderful, life affirming places of commitment, growth and all the good in between. Whilst there are many upsides, there are many myths, ‘shoulds’ and misconceptions.
I will outline & explore these in my next post to help avoid common pitfalls and pain further down the road.
Posted with love.