When I went to relationship/couple therapy, one of the first things we explored was our dreaded past. I’m sure many of you have heard about this and probably think,
“Yeah, yeah, I know my past was messed up and that’s why I act this way.” Sure, this might be true, but some of the rough times in our past have made us who we are, and have built a certain character in us, that in many ways have made us stronger or better.
Looking back at my past, I noticed that I craved my mother’s love, and always tried to impress her. For whatever reason, I never thought I was good enough in her eyes.
Ironically, this idea “of feeling not good enough” shows him in my current relationship when I feel like I haven’t lived up to my wife’s expectations.
So, being aware of our past can often lend insight to how we are being in our current relationship. Until this was pointed out to me, I had no idea I was playing this same card over and over again and how it was effecting my relationship.
2. Opposites Attract
Everything you dislike about your loved one is probably the same reason you were or are attracted to this person. My wife is fiery, passionate, expressive, and a stubborn individual.
Ironically, these are all the same reasons I fell in love with her. How come these are the same things that I dislike now? My mother did not express her emotions and was very guarded, similar to how I am. It was no coincidence that my I was attracted to my wife, who had no problem expressing herself.
It’s also very often that the qualities we don’t like in our other half are really qualities that we don’t like about ourselves. Instead of fixing ourselves and facing the truth (which is not easy and much harder to do), we project our anger onto our significant others.
This make sense too, as we’ve all seen numerous people get divorced, and then get remarried shortly after. And they tell you, “Oh man, she’s the one, she’s nothing like my ex-wife.” Then, three months later, he’s divorced again. If you don’t fix yourself, the problems in your relationship will just repeat themselves.
3. Build Self-Awareness
This is a crucial element to changing the dynamics of any relationship, and it’s a personal development skill that is difficult to master. Being self-aware of how you are being, how you are showing up moment to moment for your partner.
Developing that sensory acuity when interacting with your partner is crucial, because, without it, you will never change or care to change, because you’re unaware of what you’re even doing to your partner.
At the bare minimum, focus on what your partner does that emotionally triggers you. And when you feel that emotional trigger, smile to yourself, and breathe. Then pause, don’t react.
That’s the black belt move. Everyone loves to react and tell their partner, “Yeah but you did this to me, and that’s why…” They love to blame their partner and deflect.
When you do this though, you’re just telling a story, and your partner has already tuned out because he/she is preparing their response to your attack.
Instead, breathe and develop curiosity around your emotions, and ask yourself, “Why did this happen?” or tell yourself, “That’s interesting, there’s anger rising.” Eventually, you can come back to your partner at a later time when both of you are in a calm frame of mind and can have a discussion of what transpired.
4. Give, Give, Give
If you want love, give love. If you want connection, give connection. So often, we complain about what our partner doesn’t do, yet we don’t do the same things we complain about!
So often I hear, “I wish he more affectionate.” When I ask, “What are you doing about it?” the response is always, “Well, nothing.” So how can you expect your partner to be affectionate when you aren’t being that life force, or drive that demonstrates and cries out affection.
Just continue to give in your relationship, and stop keeping score. When you focus on serving your significant other, your mind will not have time to think about the things you feel like you’re lacking.
5. Play the Long Game
Marriage is a long, long, long time. I hate to break it to you, but people are living until they are almost 100 years old. So if you got married when you were 30, then you’re going to be with the same person for 70 years!
If you start thinking, “Oh my god, I can’t believe he/she did that to me, I think it’s over…” You might be right, it could be over. But in reality, we all go through tough times, and often those tough times pass with time.
But dwelling in the moment, and not playing all out in your relationship creates this feeling of lack, this feeling of scarcity. When your’e not playing all out, you’re playing to fail.
You’re playing like any moment the relationship could end. This will surely be the downfall of your relationship. So play the long game. Be in it for the long haul, and don’t get too caught up on the little bumps along the way (remember, 70 years together with one person). We’re all bound to make mistakes, so do your best to forgive and move on.