How do we restore relationships when they find themselves in trouble? First I’d like to talk about some of the causes of relationship trouble. I believe this can be most simplified in two categories:
A. Lack of Relationship Integrity
Lack of relationship integrity is much like lack of personal integrity where we allow ourselves and our partner to let betrayal, lies, omissions and secrets become an acceptable part of the way we relate to one another. This includes the big things like affairs and addictions, as well as the small things like not keeping agreements made with one another and/or yourself.
B. Withholding Love
Withholding love includes acts of criticism, using hurtful and mean words/gestures, ignoring, being unwilling to recognize or solve problems, and physical abuse. Again withholding love can be very obvious – as in battery or physical violence; or it can be subtle such as contemptible looks or gestures.
For either of these categories you will have to decide if your relationship is healthy and fulfilling, or if you are content and satisfied. The range of ‘healthy’ is up to you. I often suggest that couples read books about healthy relationships to see if theirs has some of these qualities. Often times our experience in relationships and our models are distorted and we think this is just the way it is. I had a young man in my office recently describing his parent’s relationship, and he said that they fight all the time and sleep in separate rooms, but this is just the way marriage is after 25+ years. Hmmm.
#1 Surrender the Victory
Surrender the victory means to give up the ‘right’ fighting, you know, fighting to be right. If you are fighting to be right someone has to be wrong, and when this happens in your relationship the relationship losses. There is no true victory when you fight with your partner about who is right.
#2 Humble Yourself
A small dose of humility goes a long long way. By this I mean letting your partner and your relationship be your teacher. Be in your relationship as a curious child – learning with humble gratitude about yourself, your partner and the nature of relating in a healthy way. If you can’t imagine humbling yourself to your partner, imagine humbling yourself to the power of love. Let the love between you both be the cliff in which you rise up to and then jump off of soaring to new heights fueled by this love. I know you can do it.
#3 Take Care of Your Emotions
Find alternative ways to identify and process your emotions. They are yours – your partner did not cause them. They are in you, and you have the responsibility to take care of your own feelings. Do not spew them on one another.
#4 Be Nice
This is so simple and it takes so little effort. To repeat an old cliché, practice random acts of kindness, but do it with your partner – without an agenda or an expectation. Just do it because you can and because you probably need to. We are often kinder to strangers than we are to our beloveds.
#5 Be Patient
Having said this I ask you to Be Patient. If we aren’t used to our partner being nice to us, we may become suspicious. We also may have a difficult time receiving positive feedback or acts of kindness. Please do not let this discourage you from giving them. The energy of giving and receiving is the same, it is a circuit. Give, and give without an agenda.
#6 Walk Away From Conflict
If things get heated walk away, but you must also come back to it when the water has settled and calmly, respectfully, responsibly and lovingly talk about what happened. This is absolutely essential. Walking away includes coming back.
#7 Be Grateful
It is so very easy to dismiss your partner’s role, support, help, encouragement, desires, etc. because of familiarity. Start looking for the positives, the everyday things that without them in your life, you’d miss them or suffer in some way. I have a great experiment for you to do right now. Stop reading and look around the room you are in – just take in whatever you happened to see. NOW, do it again, but think the color red. What happens? You now have a visual filter of red and the pinks, oranges, maroons, mauves all start to look red. Do you get it? You have the power to change your filter. You can intentionally put on a filter that sees love, support, encouragement, joy, beauty, etc. instead of what you have been seeing.
#8 Respect Boundaries
Practice respect in your relationships. If someone asks for some time or space to sort through their emotions and evaluate their actions, give it to them. Do not be demanding in this manner, you will not have a good outcome or elicit love and trust. Violation of boundaries is the number one cause of resentment in relationship. Therefore you are responsible for identifying, communicating and honoring boundaries.
#9 Take Intentional Time
Take planned and intentional time every week to immerse yourself in your relationship. Make your relationship a priority. Create sacredness and safety to talk, to love, to touch, to romance, to resolve, to restore, to rekindle, to just be with one another. In the end you will not look back and be happy you got the dishes done or watched that football game. However, your heart will be filled full if you can look back on your relationship and know you were present, you loved well, and you invested your heart and your time wisely. These are the dividends that pay off.
Remember The Vibration of Love Heals. It is only the vibration, the intention, the activation of love that heals – nothing else. When anything else is present it is based out of fear, and fear never heals. In a committed love relationship if one is hurting, the other is also hurting. Be the one to shift the fear to love. When we let fear lead we create more fear and then we’ve got a mess to climb out of. Einstein put it this way, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Commit to doing things differently, and allow love to grow and your relationships to heal. Let love, patience, and understanding lead the way, and watch your relationships become that which you always imagined real love to be.