It is quite elusive to find a good partner fit and healthy relationship and marriage. If you have found a resonant, compatible partner, honor them and do this right. Someone who loves you, of all people in the world, is truly special. If it is not too late, here is a secret formula to saving your relationship.
It Takes Two to Spoon
Spooning alone is called lying on your side. Wanting the relationship has to be Mutual. If both of you do not want to rejuvenate the relationship: to spoon, connect, communicate lovingly and openly about important boundaries and needs, and to work towards meeting all needs, the horse is already out of the barn. Let it go.
The tricky part is when you are on the fence or when you do not know where you partner is at. The best time to have a serious talk is after the drama, your nervous systems, animal brains get a chance to settle down. Give each other space to relax before you have a serious talk. In fact, it’s probably best to say something like,
I love you. Let’s plan a date to go out or stay in to talk about us and figure this out.
The caveat is, do not let conflict go unresolved for too long.
Stay Focused on Your Partner and Relationship
If you earnestly want your marriage or relationship to work, you have to stay focused on it. Resist the temptation to make other life changing plans. Changing jobs is one thing but moving or going back to school requires planning together.
Never date other people while you are still working your marriage or relationship. Otherwise if you are not committed to making it work, break up or get divorced first, then your have a clean break to move on.
The Key: Circle Back to the Beginning, Then Create New Memories
The one and only way to save your relationship when you are steering towards the rocks is to mutually remember why you got together in the first place. If some truly loves you think twice about breaking up and earnestly try to make it work. There are not too many people in our lives that love us.
Start with a relaxing and hopefully romantic setting. Make dinner, make love and after the bliss start talking about when you first met. Talk about your first dates and how you bonded, qualities you found attractive in your mate. Fall in love again.
Do you remember the sunset on the bluff and making love along the creek in the redwoods 😉
Love is as much a chemical reaction as it is an affair of the heart, body and mind, as well as that of spirit. To fall in love takes two hearts. There is a big difference between, “We should stay together because of the kids.” and “Come here honey.” Everyone has conflict. It’s how one recovers that makes the difference with sustainable relationships. We will be able to work this out when we’re calmer and we’ve been able to access our skills, or notice if we need to find more skills” The later connection will help you get past the angst modern society throws our way, as well as other neuro-chemical, bodily, psychic responses we’ve been programmed to react with.
If you can let go of regular daily stress, regard it as just part of modern life, and see your partner as your ally, then you can keep things rolling. You can work steadily to keep your relationship adjusting and evolving, as life changes and events come in. Nothing and no one stays the same, to expect this is unreasonable and unsustainable. Don’t let your stress become you vs. your partner. Appreciate the practical things in them that brought you together too. Do this out loud, during your regular check-ins. Gratitude is a Universal soother, if felt & expressed authentically, and with no expectation of return.
Drop the Personal Drama
As we go through life with unmet needs and life stress, we write a play called the All About Me Drama. To keep it simple silly, you have to drop the personal drama to see past it back to why you two got together in the first place. We also have to quiet the voices that say doing some activity or passion is more important than the relationship. The age we can do this and focus on our relationship as the primary varies per person.
You know the running dialog in your head. What is it saying, how is it making you feel? Human’s are dialog thinkers, part of the practice of meditation is to shut the fountain of thoughts off for a while or at least observe them without attachment.
You kind of have to do that in relationship, the art of long-term relationship durability comes from wanting to be mated and being pleased with and accepting of your mate. He/she are just a person trying to find his/her way too. Its often realized after divorce that your spouse was just afraid or felt insecure about being alone in this scary world.
To heal a relationship, know your inner dialog, use it as a guide to support your partner. Remove your agenda and just practice “Active Listening”, No need to fix things, offer solutions, etc. Simply listening is the first and very powerful step of bridging connection. Combine that with telling them everyday, “I love you.” That will help you partner relax and know that you have their back.
The Art of Meeting Your Needs With Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
Unmet needs lead to resentment and burnout. It can be either the simple or difficult thing to do. Here is an easy 5-step process.
- Prioritize your own needs, focus on just one or two biggies.
- Set aside time to talk about your needs. Don’t bushwhack your partner to talk about your needs on the spot unprepared.
- Formula, “I love you, I feel this way … because of this unmet need …. can we creatively brainstorm on ways to meet it.” Clarify if you want your partner’s help to meet the need or to just witness without offering advice.
- Return the favor and help your partner meet their needs.
- Overlap. Speak up when your partner’s needs bump into yours. Explain how and find compromises.
To learn more about how to ask to have your needs met, study Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Read Marshall Rosenberg’s book, NonViolent Communication. Find your local NVC practice group, also known as compassionate communication.
In NVC, we are responsible for our own feelings. While someone’s actions may trigger a reaction within us, they don’t ultimately “make” us do anything that is within the realm of choice. Which, with cultivated emotional intelligence, can be everything that lies beneath the trigger, it is deep unconscious work. This is an important distinction about NVC and it’s foundations.
You will be confronted with you partner’s actions that trigger you. In a flash you have a choice: resentment or compassion. If love is most important, you will find a way to talk about it when you calm down, ask for your needs and make it right together for love. Otherwise resentment will built to burnout and you will lose your life partner. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. Live, love, communicate and forgive.
If your partner really hurt you with an action, tell them and ask them or give suggestions how to make it right. Life is too short to lose your partner to especially an honest mistake or good intention. What you do at that moment of choice makes the difference between lasting 6 months or 50 years.
Live, love, communicate and forgive.
Don’t let conflict go unresolved for long. This leads to resentment and burnout. Let the small stuff slide and for things that can never be resolved, maybe move on.
If you have had a big blow up and your partner is upset with you. There is little chance for any resolution until you own your actions. That is not to say your partner may or may have not over reacted, etc. But until you own the root cause, you are stuck. Owning it means you see your actions, what emotional needs motivated them and what needs were not met in your partner. Cause and affect, own it.
The key to resolving conflict is openly talking about the problem with compassion. See past their actions to the emotional needs that motivated the behavior. Look at it from their point of view, then yours and then a third persons. Stop being critical and judgmental. Speaking to your partner’s needs validates the important feelings underlying the problem you share. Find forgiveness and resolution in a form of a new behavior that you both can live with. Your relationship will begin to grow again.
After three marriage counselors, we were referred to an older female therapist who eventually met with us individually. She was refreshingly honest vs. the young therapist and someone from the church we had met with prior. She just said, “By the time you come to me, there is an 80 percent change you are getting divorced and you are just here to make it smoother.”
Therapy can be valuable, but start it while things are still going relatively well. Avoid letting conflict get so far you are considering breaking up. Resolve conflict together sooner than later.
Avoid hurting your partner’s feelings at all costs. I think we have all made this mistake. Find any way to avoid conflict. Agree to take space and talk in the morning or in a few days. Start journaling, write things down to get them out and never send them. I know this is a hard one.
Technology can bring us together or break up our relationships. Text to ping someone and general communication. Never discuss something important over text. Texting is a great way to break up. Without our partner in front of us, we become brave and say hurtful things we ordinarily would not and will regret.
Its okay to say, “Honey, I am upset, I need to talk about this (when) later.” Do not leave the other person hanging about when you will talk about the issue. Take the edge off to relax a notch to have a healthier discussion. Couples who have been married a long time have learned how to do this and know they will come back to it. Every time they practice this, it gives greater assurance that they will talk about things.
Check in even when things are going smoothly. There is, “How was your day?” But there is a deeper level of, “How life is going, how is our relationship going for you, is there anything we can talk about and improve?”
Listen without judgment. Judgement is a killer diller and can lead to conflict. During a check in, hold off on offering advice. If you have advice, ask before you offer it. Unsolicited advice can be seen as criticism. Avoid any advice that may sound critical.
If the relationship is new, less than a year. Part of checking is developing the comfort and security for your partner to bring their problems and unmet needs to you. It is not uncommon for people to be hesitant to ask for their needs for one of any number of past reasons.
This goes both ways. When you love someone, it is your responsibility to bring up your needs. Feel free to say, “I am afraid of hurting your feelings.” or “It is hard for me to say this.”. Importantly, bring and ask for creative solutions. It is also your job to bring a couple ideas to the table that will meet your needs. Try not to just state a need and not have suggestions on how to resolve it.
The benefit of checking is two fold. You nip problems in the butt and you convey emotional support to your partner.
If Someone Needs a Break
You might have screwed up somewhere or your partner’s needs were not being met, own it. The most important thing is to stay loving, calm and supportive. Tell them you love them and you are sorry for your part. Never get angry. Ask their permission to have a talk on what can be improved for them in a few days when they relax. Let them get grounded and feel safe before you talk again.
When you eventually get back together to talk, find out what their needs are, listen without judgement, own your part. You will have to decide if their needs fit within your boundaries. If they do, make things right. If you partner is open, talk then and there to see if you can work things out and prevent leaving in the first place. It takes a strong person to say you are sorry and a stronger person to forgive.
Blessings on your relationship. Read this before you get in trouble. Be mindful, respectful and have gratitude. Your partner is someone who has taken the risk to love and live with you. Now go hug your partner.
Thank you for your contributions Stephanie. You are my NVC mentor.