From time to time we can all fall into the habit of taking our relationship for granted. It is both natural and predictable. Once we feel secure in a relationship, we allow our focus to meander toward other things. We assume that once we’ve captured our partner with a profession of love the work is over. The truth is – the work has just begun.
The erosion of a relationship results in common symptoms for one or both partners: feeling alone, discontented and unhappy.
It doesn’t have to go that way. While relationships don’t come with manuals for navigating the complexities of love, there are simple daily practices that can keep a dream relationship from turning into a nightmare.
1. Listen with your heart. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another The heart seeks first to understand what the other person is feeling and needing. Stand in their shoes as you listen. When you listen from your heart you listen to their emotions, you take in their body language, and you observe their energy. You let go of judgement or the idea that you need to “fix” anything, or defend your position, or action. The ego is muted when the heart is listening.
2. Toss the scorecard. When our relationship begins to sour we have a tendency to start keeping score. As we seek to justify our unhappiness we watch for ways in which our partner may be wrong. Things like how much they may be doing to keep the house clean, or how many nights they are working late instead of spending time with the family. What you focus on you will always find evidence to support. Remember when you first started dating? Unconsciously you were looking for evidence that he/she was the one. Consciously now focus on what they are doing right.
3. Work to meet their needs. When a person’s needs are met at a high level they experience happiness and fulfillment. Conversely, when a relationship is beginning to deteriorate it is because our partner is no longer meeting our emotional needs. When we discover what needs are most important to our partner and we seek to fulfill those needs we hold the key that unlocks the door to relationship bliss.
4. Embrace Conflict. Just like a complaint is a request in disguise, conflict is growth wanting to happen. There are ways to sort through conflict and raise the relationship to a new level of fulfillment. Conflict occurs when one or both of partners experience pain. This pain is asking to be healed. This pain is not caused by your partner, it is activated by their actions. Conflict shines light on past painful, unhealed wounds. Invite conflict to show you where you need to heal and grow. (Note: conflict is not abuse; conflict is disagreement.)
5. Forgive. I read somewhere where the happiest relationships are between two people who mastered the art of forgiving. We are all far from perfect. In the schoolhouse of LIFE we stumble and fall in the process of learning our lessons. Forgiveness is the gift we give ourselves so we don’t become trapped in the jailhouse of bitterness. When you release the thoughts of pain brought forth by the other person or their actions you pave the way to know more peace.