Friday, October 21st, 2011...12:33 pm
SHE said…..HE said…..
Couples entering therapy still do so as a last attempt to fix their relationship; usually after much irreversible damage has occurred.
In most cases, couples rely on their partner to ‘change’ as a prerequisite for the relationship to improve. Doing so simply averts the immediate positive outcome they are seeking since a loving couple relationship requires the efforts and ’inner’ work of both people.
A healthy and loving relationship is a product of both person in the relationship. The more you improve upon who you are, the better all of your relationships become. And for many couples who walk into therapy initially blaming their partner, it means reexamining their own actions, and reevaluating their beliefs and values including what they want in a partner.
Ultimately both people must want the relationship; both need to believe that each other adds immensely to the quality of their individual lives; and both members of the couple need to be consistently kind, loving and respectful to one another.
Two vital factors for the success and longevity of all love relationships:
To develop and nurture a healthy love relationship that continues to transform itself, growing deeper with the passing of time, consider these necessary elements:
1) Practice endless FORGIVENESS and ’FORGET’ past mistakes and wrongdoings.
No person is the same as they were a month ago, a year ago, etc. (Furthermore, we are h u m a n). If you are good at holding onto grudges or past hurts you are creating a proverbial “OCEAN” (never mind just “water”) under the bridge. In time, the ocean engulfs the bridge and there is nothing left – including your relationship.
Instead, attentively observe and listen to your partner’s words and reactions and seek to learn from them. Ask question to clarify. Please don’t assume that because you’ve been together 19 or 26 or even 42 years that you know each other implicitly. WE do change, albeit in different ways. Change sometimes means you adopt new beliefs or ways of being in the world. You would do well to consider your partner is evolving as well – regardless of whether their growing pace is different from yours. The beauty of forgiveness and forgetting means that there is nothing to harbour and no feelings of resentment or hurt.
To resolve a past hurt that you haven’t forgiven, consider how you can forgive the person first, even if it is difficult to forgive the behavior. Forgiveness helps with forgetting and letting go of the past. Communicating what has hurt you helps the other person know better for future. Rather than react with anger if the behavior occurs again, consider how you can remind your partner of the impact of their actions and simultaneously ask yourself what you need to do to change how you perceive this situation. There is often some good opportunities for self-growth every time something angers you.
When couples hold past resentments about a specific issue, they react every time this behavior occurs – but with heightened and often irrational emotion. The reaction is no longer specific to the current issue, but a culmination of all of the previous times that you were witness to this and similar behaviors. It becomes a ‘KABOOM!’ reaction that is highly illogical and at the same time, harmful to the receiver.
2) Be UNCONDITIONALLY LOVING to your partner.
The idea of unconditional love is to love without conditions or expectations. Unconditional love means that you are open in your giving of love to your partner (never withholding). When you feel angry or hurt, communicate in gentle ways that express your honest feelings without condemning the person. (This may mean taking a step back first to process how and why you feel the way you do). This often means more revelation about who you are then about what it was your partner did that angered or hurt you.
When couple clients begin therapy work: they often have sessions together, and also individually with myself. The simple reason for this is so that I can help them uncover and heal their own issues from childhood, raise their levels of healthy SELF-esteem, and changing unwanted behaviors that continue to negatively impact their lives and in particular, their relationships with loved ones. And of course, individual work in therapy invariably includes discovering more about one’s self.
Members of a couple willing to personally growth aids the relationship substantially since it is who we are as individuals that determines what we bring to our love relationship.
As two individuals within a couple, you will invariably have different points of view; different memories of the same situation; and different emotions experienced in any single life event. Sometimes, a couples’ recollection of the same conversation will be like hearing two completely different stories; again since any situation is seen and felt through the eyes of two separate individuals with vastly unique life experiences.
I remind couples to try and stay ‘calm’ and ‘present’ when they hear their mate describe a totally different recollection of a conflict situation that they are trying to resolve. You learn so much about the inner workings of your spouse by hearing their particular viewpoint and core beliefs in the context of sharing openly with a third ‘neutral’ party in a couples’ session. The idea isn’t to decide who has remembered a situation correctly, or who is ‘right’, but rather how does my partner view others (including myself) and the world at large? How does she or he view their own actions and ideas in that situation and why?
Understanding is the real benefit to sharing thoughts, perceptions and ideas in therapy.
Consider the notion of ‘she said, he said’ (differing views in two partners) as an invitation to understand one another. One of the biggest mistakes a couple can make is not speaking their truth. The moment they stop sharing their true thoughts and feelings, the connection and communication halts.
Encourage your mate to speak their truth. Embrace and encourage them to be their individual. If you are in the dating stages of a love relationship, this “truth” will help you know if this is the right partner for you. If you are currently in a committed long-term relationship, rebuilding or beginning an honest exchange of value-driven ideas with a respectful and curious interchange of questions directed at helping you both understand each other better – will help you know if you are truly with the ‘right’ partner.
Listening and hearing what your mate actually says rather than assume you know how they would think or feel on a topic means a purposeful “she said…..he said”. Knowing who you are considering to spend much of your adult life with is something worth exploring long before you say, ‘I do’.
The true caveat here is this:
You may not have chosen the absolutely best person as your life mate. This is likely the most common reason people do not remain together in a love relationship.
Choosing a life partner without knowing yourself intimately, and without maintaining full honesty about what is most important to you, means that you both are likely to feel as though you are sacrificing too much at different points in the relationship.
This truth revealed invariably catches up with you; and unless you and your partner are able to overcome some of the major differences you face, you may be better suited to find your SELF first …. then choose a ‘right’ partner.