Category: <span>relationships</span>

Don’t live a Life of Catch 22

Couple watching the sunset

How to create room for BOTH

Both what? What on earth does that mean? Many times individuals, couples, or families will find they are fighting to choose a side. The context can be different every time.

Who is right here?

What is the real truth?

Should I love them or be upset with them?

Why I am I always giving in?

Compromise feels more like they won.

Relationships won’t work when you are consistently facing these questions and forcing yourself, or others, to choose a side.  We are not one dimensional human beings.  Everything about us is complex – from our respiratory system to our thought process to the roles we fulfill on a daily basis. Why would it be healthy then to respond to our environment with such a black and white approach?

When you find yourself fighting from a boxed in and well defended corner, you have immediately lost the opportunity for growth and closeness. 

This is clear to see in relationships.  We can all picture the last or the most significant conflict we have encountered with someone we love.  

Did it end well? Was each person able to express their side AND listen to the other side? Were you able to clearly articulate what was ok for you and what wasn’t?

OR

Did you scream and yell? Did you shut down? Did you act like nothing happened in the following days? Did you feel awful?

What feels better for you?

Coming from an individual perspective, it may not be as obvious but you probably can relate. 

Did you allow yourself to be upset with someone you love? Did you clearly tell another where your limits and boundaries lie? Did you feel positive about being genuine and honest in your communication?

OR

Do you hold it all in? Do you avoid conflict at every cost? Do you feel guilty and shameful for expressing yourself? Is everything your fault?

Creating room for BOTH refers to you being your most genuine and authentic self every minute of the day. Be kind and patient with yourself. Know you are a complex being who will experience an array of emotions. Accept that your loved ones are different than you. Understand that different does not mean bad.

Use the above healthy questions to guide you in creating a healthy life with fulfilling relationships.

Making the Most of Relationships

You know the phrase “Relationships Take Work” but what does that mean specifically for you and your partner?

Every relationship has its unique challenges.  Maybe addiction or infidelity are a challenge for you.  Maybe its direct and in the moment communication or managing finances.  Maybe external factors get in the middle, like careers and in-laws and children.  

Whatever it is, these challenges make it hard to invest in our relationships.  They make it hard to move close to our partner, listen and support them, and be vulnerable and honest.

Ironically, investing in our relationships (and ourselves) is the exact remedy for these challenges.

Do you remember when you first met your partner? How exciting it was to receive an unexpected call or special surprise? How nice it was to hear they are thinking of you?  How good it felt to return those sentiments? 

During that time, would you also say you were being pretty good to yourself?  It was important impress this person, to be deeply connected to them, so you made sure you put your best foot forward.

Why did that stop?  When did it become too hard to invest in ourselves and in our relationships?

To help you get back on track, here are some ideas and tips to make the most of your relationship:

  1. Pick one thing that you can do every day that makes you feel good. Drink plenty of water, move your body for 30 minutes, listen to a motivating podcast, cook a healthy meal, read a funny novel.  Do one thing every day that makes you feel good.  It will not only relax you, but it will increase your ability to tolerate stress, execute patience, and give you a little feel-good dopamine release.
  2. Look for opportunities to turn toward your partner.  Pay attention to all the times you may roll your eyes, sigh heavily, or mumble some not so nice words under your breath.  Imagine every time you do this a little brick is placed on the wall that is building between you and your partner. Instead, use this as a chance to strengthen your relationship.  When you want to sigh heavily, you may choose now to say “I’m not understanding your choice.  Can you tell me more?” When you mumble under your breath, perhaps “It may not have been your intention, but that hurt my feelings” would work better. When you reach for the phone to text a friend to complain, I would imagine “I need your help right now” would go further.
  3. Find time to wow and woo.  Remember those first several weeks or even months of dating, when everyone was out to impress and win over one another? You can still make that happen! Leave a note of appreciation, pack a lunch, make a random call during the work day to let your partner know you are thinking of them, laugh and have fun together. Here is a list of 50 ways to show you.
  4. Create deep and meaningful conversations.  Some couples enjoy listening to podcasts and discussing their thoughts, others prefer to have conversation prompts (answering thought-provoking questions), and some prefer to watch moving films together and then analyzing.  All of these activities enhance your relationship by creating a connection, spending time together, and challenging your way of thinking and communicating. Its impossible to know every single thought your partner has so why not take advantage of these new ways of relating. 

If you are reading this list and saying to yourself, this is easier said than done OR my relationship is nowhere near ready for this OR I don’t even know if I want to make the most of my relationship, its ok.  Every relationship is unique and moves and grows at various speeds.  Use this list to help yourself set goals instead.  Perhaps your goal is to invest in yourself over the next 90 days.  Maybe its to talk with a professional to see if you can build enough trust in your relationship to turn towards your partner.  If you are not in a place to take action, start by creating a vision for your relationship.