Remember the bliss of a budding relationship. It’s like a breath of fresh air. The feelings of attraction and excitement bring a smile to your face and butterflies to your stomach. So where do all these blissful feelings go?
The longer you invest in a relationship, the more you don’t want to lose them. You would do almost anything to avoid feelings of loss and rejection, even if that means avoiding conflict to keep the peace.
Two Most Common Relationship Mistakes:
As each of you puts more energy into maintaining the good feelings and sustaining the relationship, troublesome ways of interacting typically creep in. No matter how long you have been together, it is highly likely that you have made at least one of the following mistakes:
1. Trying to fix your partner
2. Letting your partner fix you
Which one sounds like something you are doing? I claim #1 as my biggest mistake. While my attempts to fix my spouse may be well-intentioned, they typically get stirred up by my own worry and tension. Luckily for my husband, he doesn’t like it when I try to shape him up and he lets me know.
“Some conflictual marriages can be characterized as each person wanting to lean on the other more than the other will permit. Other conflictual marriages are better characterized as each feeling the other wants to control the situation.” ~Michael Kerr, M.D.
While no one is perfect, you can learn to turn all this energy onto yourself instead of deferring or turning it on your partner. In doing so, you make more room in your relationship for growth, togetherness, and comfort – maybe even occasional bliss.
A Different Way to Think About Relationship Growth
This is a very different way to think about relationships. It’s not about working directly on the relationship, it’s about working on your part in the problem, so you are part of the solution. Instead it is about becoming more self-directed without losing relationship connections.
How do we become more self-directed without becoming self-centered and selfish? The goal isn’t to be more isolated and disconnected, it is to do our part in creating more intimate, positive, and cooperative connections. Once you recognize your part in the problem, whether it’s distance or conflict (avoidance or pressure), you open up new choices:
1. The choice between being regulated by your partner or being self-regulated
2. The choice between acting on your emotions or your thinking
I can continue to try to shape up my hard working husband, or I can find another way to manage my worry. I can look for the choices that I have in front of me instead of trying to answer the choices he has in front of him. I imagine I’m more fun to be around when I calm myself down and put less pressure on him to do it for me.
We all react emotionally to differences in our relationship. Learning how to have a choice in how we react to these differences helps us be more approachable and less negative in our relationships. We become someone that others want to be around instead of avoiding conflict to keep the peace.
What helps you see your part in relationship problems?
Photo Credit: “Love is…” by Nattu