Time is a teacher.
And so are relationships.
You can learn about yourself and others if you’re willing to remain open to learning. This one trait can serve you well in your own healing and it can create more harmonious, satisfying relationships.
In the early stages of relationships, pheromones are sparking – these are hormones that flood the body with feel good, “walking on a cloud” kind of feelings. We are in love with everything about our love interest.
My husband and I lived in different states when we were dating and I would often fly to see him. When the plane landed I wanted to run off as fast as I could silently screaming to myself “get out of my way people”! I couldn’t wait to see his glowing smiling face at the end of the jet bridge. No one else existed and time stood still.
And then, this feeling began to shift.
This heightened experience is short lived as the advanced stages of human connection begins, attachment. This is where seeming trouble can begin. It’s also where personal healing begins. We didn’t know it at the time, but we do now and we want to share our learnings.
We recently celebrated anniversary #22 and it got me to pondering about what keeps our relationship working well. What have we learned about nurturing our relationship that might help others?
Together we created this list of 22 ways that we keep the love alive and healthy in our relationship:
- Don’t go to bed angry or talk about finances before sleep. At the minimum agree to disagree and then commit to a time to revisit the issue later.
- If you and your partner are at a standstill in your communication, practice stating what you think your partner is trying to communicate. This is called effective listening; “what I hear you saying is…”. This slows down communication and allows for understanding, not necessarily agreement.
- Express to your partner how you want to spend your birthday, special occasions and holidays ahead of time.
- Use a fun, silly code word to break the spell of an argument that keeps you both talking in circles.
- Realize that you and your partner may be in a low place at the same time and can’t be available to support each other. Reach out to a best friend, family member or a counselor.
- When you need to bring up a sensitive issue with your partner, begin with “I” statements, not “you did this”. Using “you” will create a natural defensiveness in the other.
- Understand that you will trigger each other. You may unknowingly remind your partner of someone from the past or their family history. Be compassionate and consider your partner’s past hurts and/or traumas.
- When you do trigger each other ask yourself; who or what is this reminding me of from the past? Then tell your partner how you experienced it and allow them time to understand how their behavior is effecting you.
- Laugh, a lot!
- Keep your relationship fresh by offering your partner a surprise date, buying them something you know they love, or do act of kindness that let’s them know you care.
- Keep the phones and email’s as open territory; know each other’s passwords. If you need to keep secrets, that doesn’t bode well for trust.
- No name calling or put downs, no matter how angry you are. This is a total lack of respect for your partner and can’t be “unheard”.
- Tell your partner when something is bothering you so you don’t hold it in and allow resentment to fester.
- Honor that you each might require quiet time and allow space for that.
- Apologize sooner than later. Saying I’m sorry is the most soothing balm of all.
- Do not disparage your partner in front of others or with family present. Shaming is not welcome in a loving relationship.
- Speaking of in-laws, each person is responsible for communicating with their own family, especially when there is a conflict.
- When your partner is talking, respond with validation first, then offer solutions if needed. Validation is what we all crave the most.
- When your partner does something you love and appreciate, tell them. This teaches them how you want to be treated.
- Don’t expect your partner to be psychic or intuit your every need or want. Tell them, it’s your responsibility. Relationships are not about testing another person.
- Yelling and ignoring behavior shuts down communication and are both harmful emotionally; they don’t solve a thing. Stretch yourself to grow, be in control of you, and seek to understand.
- Above all, remember that love is the reason you came together. Remember the love as this is all you’ll take with you when you leave the earth.
Even though my husband and I live from this list doesn’t mean we practice it perfectly all the time. Sometimes we’re tired, hurt, hungry and we forget. However, we have learned from our 22 years together that we want to make our relationship work and be a safe space for each other, so we go back to the basics of listening and understanding. Relationships take effort, they need watering and nurturing to grow and thrive.
If you’re experiencing difficult communication with your partner and need support in growing through the difficulty, I’m available for couples counseling.
Connect with me HERE to create a thriving relationship.