Sometimes couple life can get downright hard and ugly. We can spiral down to a place it seems we will never get out of. We find ourselves angry, hurt, and disconnected and it’s lonely.
Partners in a distressed couple sometimes describe how they walk on eggshells. When doing so, I am not bringing my full self to the relationship, out of fear. So I hold back in an attempt to manage or maybe even control your behavior. But that never feels good or right, and it never provides satisfactory results in the long term. When we work harder at trying to mitigate a partner’s behavior rather than our own, we know we are in trouble.
Some of us use shaming and criticism in an attempt to change a partner’s behavior, not able to see that perhaps a change in the shaming and criticizing might elicit the desired response! Also painful, are the strategies that involve dismissal, alienation, and withdrawal. At the core, this leaves both parties very vulnerable and in too much pain to ever “right the ship” as it were.
So how do we reach across the chasm at times like these? How do we allow ourselves to make a move that would be healing?
What would happen if you took the time to just focus on yourself and decided to be the best person you could be? What would happen if you brought to the surface what you liked best about yourself? If you were able to turn your focus on to what was good about you rather than what was bad about your partner, can you sense that a shift would be possible?
Just like when we were children, we all long to be loving, caring, and open hearted individuals. We crave belonging and love and acceptance from others. When we were little we learned that we got that by bringing our best and kindest self to the table. Those rules haven’t really changed.
Bringing my best self to the table means that my focus won’t be on my partner’s flaws. It means there is a good chance I won’t show up defensive. It means I may not even feel angry – because I have been focusing on what I love about myself: my kindness, my generosity of spirit, my curiosity .. those lovely parts of all of us. It might be interesting to think about too, that all these positive attributes I want to bring to the table are what my partner initially fell in love with! And imagine looking across the table, and there is the person you fell in love with! See how that works?
Peace to you.