It’s great in the beginning…
The honeymoon phase of any new relationship is bliss. Your heart beats fast when you hear their voice on the phone, you look forward to time together and blossom in each others’ company. Fast forward a year and suddenly all the romance and excitement has vanished. That’s normal, the intoxicating oxytocin “feel good hormones” that give you that rush dies off after the honeymoon stage. However, if feel good hormones have been replaced with disappointment and a growing sense of unease about the relationship, you have a problem. Particularly if you and your partner are distant and non-communicative. If the fun loving intimacy you shared so easily has been replaced with lonely nights, broken promises and confusion, then the secret of a great relationship is eluding you. How do some couples seem to be able to sustain the magic of closeness, tenderness and great communication even after they have been together for years?
How to keep tenderness, respect and gratitude alive
Changing yourself is the best way to continue getting the most out of your relationship. Of course, this is way easier said than done. The majority of us naturally see our partner as the problem rather than face the painful truth that we might be making ourselves miserable in our relationships. Changing other people doesn’t work, and it makes you feel mean spirited and judgemental. Taking responsibility for what you are doing in your intimate relationship requires a level of maturity and ability to take personal responsibility that eludes many of us. To be honest with yourself and at the same time have the ability to be kind to yourself about your weaknesses is no mean feat. It takes courage to change old beliefs about yourself and to stop feeling better by blaming and shaming the person you love.
Start with the saying I personally try to live by ~ “if it is going to be it’s up to me”. Then you have to be ready to develop a new point of view about your partner and yourself. From the many hundreds of couples I have helped, I would say that usually, you have to want to change badly enough, in order to really shift the focus from you pushing blame out onto your partner. In other words, you have to be in significant relationship distress. None of us is that good at changing ourselves unless we are in pain. For example, often I see people in their second marriage begin to see that they have been the common denominator in their problems. They recognise a pattern of relationships going awry. However, in couples’ counselling, they become determined not to go through the world of pain that ensued with the ending of their first marriage. So they become honest and real with themselves about the fact that it takes two people to create an unhealthy dynamic, but only one person to step out of that dynamic and do something way more helpful. The challenge is to really look inside yourself and see what you are doing and saying to someone you love.
Remember the exciting early days and how you were convinced this person was the one, back then you were not pointing the finger at them, explaining all their shortcomings. If you can allow yourself to have a mind shift, you will then be capable of creating a powerful and tender relationship for both of you.
Start by learning how to be truly kind to yourself and watch your partner blossom….
Often deep down we are quite intimidated by strong, powerful, confident people. The best way to deal with the threat of someone more powerful is to make them weaker. Criticism and blame lead to someone feeling misunderstood, judged and attacked. It weakens them as they feel they have to defend themselves. Most of us feel in our intimate relationships that the best form of defence is to attack. That means if we feel our partner has more power and self-confidence, we can find it threatening. In order to really have a great relationship you have to learn to stop attacking, with words, looks, actions and judgements. It means doing the exact opposite that is so hard for all of us to do for ourselves and for those we love. It means cultivating acceptance, seeking to understand and developing trust in the other person’s good intentions. We can be brutal with ourselves inside and equally if not more so, brutal with those closest to us. To have a great relationship you have to cease and desist. You have to be prepared to find and notice only the good in your partner and believe that if you stop judging and criticising that you will get what you need from the person you love. This takes courage, persistence and self-discipline. This takes a lot and rewards you tenfold.
Are you up for learning how to create a great relationship? The choice rests with you.