Two years ago, my marriage was in a spot of trouble.
Thankfully, Luke and I found our way back to each other, but it required a lot of work. Delving into some uncomfortable truths surrounding expectations about intimacy and marriage, uplevelling our communication skills and committing to the process, even when things felt hard.
And, we’re still working on it. Only now, our relationship is thriving.
It’s akin to that old analogy about a car that never gets serviced. Without regular maintenance, your car will eventually break down, so why should our most pivotal relationships be any different?
I see myself as part of a community of women who come alive when they can help others feel empowered about the choices they’re making.
Women who are wholeheartedly engaged with the lives they’re leading and who believe that personal growth in their relationships (with themselves and with others), can absolutely make the world a better place!
Thats why I’ve put together this summary of some of my recent relationship learnings, including valuable sources of wisdom, that continue to support, challenge, and guide me:
Some of the lessons I’ve been learning (and who’s helping me with my marriage)
Relationships are a powerful vehicle for learning about ourselves.
Every time your partner does something that hits a sore spot, provides an opportunity to recognize that trigger and transform your reaction to it. The very act of developing your own awareness is a vehicle for improving your relationship.
If you’re interested in learning more about the psychology of love and how our intimate relationships are an opportunity to heal ourselves – Getting the Love you Want by Harville Hendrix is the book to read.
Be prepared to question some of the ideas and expectations you might be carrying around about relationships.
For a long time, I held a romanticized notion that I should feel connected to my partner at all times. So anytime I perceived my partner as shut down or disconnected, I took as a sign that my marriage was doomed….DOOMED!
It seems crazy to me now, but I guarantee that if you dig deep enough, you’ll discover a few unhelpful beliefs of your own.
The good news is that we can only let go of what is first recognized and acknowledged. So I invite you to check in with yourself.
Stop blaming your partner and take responsibility for your own actions.
Who else likes to play the blame game?
How happy is that making you?
Blaming and shaming is an incredibly destructive human habit and one that I’m working hard to eliminate.
I dig this piece from Mark Hanson – Six Toxic Habits that most people think are normal. These include familiar relationship pitfalls such as blaming your partner, being passive aggressive in attempts to have your own needs met and keeping score in your relationship (yeah, you know what I’m talking about!).
If you want to get better at dealing with conflict, stop avoiding it.
I’ve yet to meet someone who enjoys dealing with conflict. Most of us avoid it at all costs, so it makes sense that we suck at it! You can read all the books you want, but until you apply the knowledge you’ve learnt, you’re going to stay in the same place.
Agreeing to head into conflict and ‘fight fair’ has helped my relationship immensely, because I’ve been forced to practice skills and tools that previously I’d only encouraged others to use.
I discovered that not only is conflict never as scary as it seems but that the right amount of difference in a relationship can actually be energizing. Our lives feel richer when we don’t insist on seeing things the same way, which leads to more attraction and working better with conflict! (I wish I’d figured this one out sooner!)
The Smart Couple podcast is an absolute must for helping you master communication and take your marriage to the next level. You will learn how to speak up and advocate for yourself (without complaining and nitpicking), enjoy some interesting, honest conversations regarding sex, opening up to conflict, and dealing with the little stuff so that it doesn’t turn into big stuff.
Your partner is your relationship teacher.
Sometimes I wish this wasn’t true. I crave for endless pathways on ‘Easy Street’ sustained by a bond that proves to be a constant source of harmony. But real life’s not like that and after more than 10 years together, my biggest lesson is that my partner is also my greatest teacher in the ways of relationship.
I’m just beginning to see that as a gift.
PS – I’m not a relationship coach or expert in relationships (other than the relationship I have with myself).
This is me, sharing my own lessons in a way I trust will be helpful for you.
I’d love to hear about some of your own relationship lessons and any go-to people/resources that are helping you right now.
Please share with with all of us in the comments.