Paula was a coaching client of ours and over the years before coming to us, she was frustrated and wanted her marriage to change…
But her husband didn’t.
When she’d try to talk with him about what, in her opinion, would make their relationship better, he’d say something like this…
“I’m perfectly happy–if there is a problem, it’s YOUR problem, so you’d better fix your problem and then everything would be OK.”
Paula tried a lot of techniques to get him to talk about their relationship but they increasingly fought more and more–even about little things like who would take the garbage cans to the street and who would clean up the kitchen after a meal.
Paula felt like she couldn’t say or do anything right.
Her husband seemed to be constantly irritated (and she thought it was always about her) and they spent a lot of time in separate rooms during evening hours–him on the computer and Paula watching tv or reading a book.
She wanted the closeness they used to have and although she didn’t want to fight with him, it always ended up that way.
Paula was very frustrated and her husband didn’t want to talk about “it.”
We’ve worked with enough couples with similar stories that we know the drill…
One person feels like they try and try and try and nothing ever seems to change so they do what a lot of people do…
They give up and “settle” for being roommates or even strangers in their relationship.
We’re certainly not blaming you if this is what’s happening to you.
The truth is that everyone’s entitled to live their life in whatever they want but if you want more love, passion, connection or anything else in your relationship, here’s a suggestion…
Don’t settle into stifling who you are inside.
That not only deadens the relationship but deadens your spirit as well.
Don’t settle for what you are currently doing in REACTION to your partner.
You could be fed up with doing “everything” in the relationship and trying ideas that don’t seem to budge your partner from his or her position.
Here’s the thing…
Your partner may or may not want to change but if YOU start changing and taking yourself out of your old “relationship dance,” something will shift.
Here’s some of the relationship advice we gave to Paula…
1. Take the pressure off “changing the relationship” and changing your partner.
Look at the part you’re playing in your “relationship dance.” Simply replay the action in one of your troublesome interactions and don’t pay attention to what your partner does.
Without blame, pay attention to what you do.
2. Stop repeating what DOESN’T work.
When you really see how you withdraw, fight back, defend yourself or whatever else you do, take a breath and don’t do that thing you’ve always done.
In other words, don’t keep repeating what doesn’t work.
3. Say what’s true for you and don’t defend it.
If your partner wants to fight over it, don’t do it. Take yourself out of the fight.
4. Get clear about what you’re committed to and figure out what you’re willing to tolerate in your relationship.
Make sure you don’t just “settle” but rather commit to something bigger than you can see for yourself right now.
Paula started practicing these ideas (as well as others) and her husband began to actually reveal more about himself to her than he had in years. They are also having far fewer arguments.
Is Paula’s relationship exactly the way she wants it?
No, not completely but Paula has seen that it’s finally going in the right direction–and she’s happy with the changes she’s seeing in herself and in her husband.
So if this is somewhat familiar to you, know that your thoughts about your relationship and your partner come and go–and don’t be attached to them.
Keep experimenting and growing as a person.
Do it for your relationship but more importantly, do it for you.
No matter what your partner does or doesn’t do, you have the choice to keep growing.
You can also consider other options if it becomes too painful for you and you can’t fathom living in this way forever.
If you need help sorting out one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, check out our “Should you stay or should you go?” program.
The truth is that if you’re growing, your partner may also choose to change as well.
Dr. David Schnarch in his book, Intimacy & Desire says this about marriage and love relationships…
“Marriage asks, Are you willing to stand up now, or do things have to get worse?…Love relationships prod you to stand up and deal with things that frighten you.”
Our question to you is this…
Are you going to stand up and deal with what frightens you or are you going to let it get worse?
Whether your relationship issues are overwhelming or not very big, take this opportunity to love yourself, your partner and your relationship by taking action to stop your behaviors that hold you back from having the love you want.
It can be very confusing trying to decide whether your relationship is worth staying in or not. Go here for help in making the best decision…