Saving your relationship
For what I’m about to say, the title may appear to be confusing. ‘Saving your relationship’ is a common clickbait title you’ve probably read many times if you’ve looked online for advice on how to 'save your struggling relationship'. Yet I’m going to say the opposite... Let your current relationship die.
This sounds dramatic, but ask yourself this question: Do you really and truly want to save the current relationship you’re in? A better question may be, why?
Your relationship is difficult, your communication together is rubbish, the intimacy and playfulness are a thing of the past, the attraction has dwindled and the things you used to find endearing about each other are now aggravating. The closeness you felt has been replaced by distance. You may well feel sad about this and be mourning what you both had, but ultimately you’re not happy, and you want to be happy again.
So a better decision might be to let go of your current relationship, but what does letting go really mean? You must let go of your current relationship and essentially, go back to school. Back to when we weren’t taught how to be in relationships, which is incredible when you think about it. You must be willing to re-educate yourself on who you are and learn to understand who your partner is.
Here are some of the steps I go through with couples in conflict concerning what they must be willing to let go of to have a great relationship with their partners. Trust me, you need to take these seriously if you wish to save your relationship.
Letting go of your current relationship
1. Let go of your perception of who you think they are
When I first encounter a couple in crisis, they usually attempt to try and force their partner into seeing things their way. This is a recipe for disaster. Why? Because respect is built through mutual understanding.
In Dale Carnegie’s book, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People', there is a chapter called ‘Seek to understand before being understood’. This sums up your new mission perfectly. When one person learns from another he or she is a pupil. A good pupil listens, they don’t interrupt or try to tell the teacher what to think. Similarly, the teacher shares information respectfully and without criticism. This isn’t easy when a couple wants to tear shreds out of each other, but without a simple willingness to learn, there can never be any growth, so let go of your need to make them see your perspective.
Be open to this. You don’t know them, you think you know them but 99% of the time, couples project an idea of who their partner is onto them, and when the relationship is going south, that projection isn’t a good one. You understand some of their patterns, but you have no idea where they have come from, what they are really thinking, and why they say or do the things they do.
You must let go of making everything about you and be prepared to understand them on a much deeper level. This is how stronger bonds and connections are built.
2. Let go of trying to understand each other through your gender
A woman can never understand what it feels like to be a man, and a man can never understand what it feels like to be a woman. There are inherent differences in the way women and men think, emote and behave. When we project our sex (male/female) onto one another, things go pear-shaped. This is entirely normal, but to evolve past the conflict caused by gender projection, you must come to the conclusion that men and women are different, and that’s ok. So instead of taking everything your partner does or says personally, it’s much better to learn to appreciate and accept those differences.
3. Let go of your past pains and conditioning
As adults, we carry baggage from past experiences which means that we develop defence mechanisms to protect ourselves from emotional pain. We bring these unconscious defensive habits/patterns to our relationships. Unless you learn what these behavioural defences are you, will continue to build walls against your partner to save yourself from pain and potential rejection.
4. Let go of the Disney idea that healthy relationships are devoid of conflict
We are sold utter nonsense through popular culture on how relationships should be. Take a look at any rom-com on Netflix, or the content people post via social media to paint the picture of their perfected relationships and lives. If you compare your relationship to these glossy images and films, your relationships will never be good enough, because that kind of perfection is an illusion, it’s not reality.
You must learn to let go of the glossy narrative and understand the truth. Relationships are hard work because we, as people, are extremely complex. Anything worthwhile has to be worked on, whether it’s your body, a skill set or a relationship. The grass is seldom greener, so quitting through emotional reactivity that your Disney image hasn’t been met rarely brings happiness. You’ll simply bring your unconscious patterns to the next relationship and gradually find new issues with the new person. You’re not always going to be happy in your relationship as this is completely unrealistic. Building an adult understanding and awareness that real peace is found through accepting and learning from potential conflicts together within your relationship is key.
Relationship counselling and coaching can help you to let go of everything that hasn’t worked in your relationship and build a true working relationship. If you’re willing to chance letting go of everything I’ve just spoken about to save your relationship, feel free to contact me for a couples counselling consultation.