5 Problem Behaviors that Ruin Relationship Satisfaction every time
And how to overcome them and feed the Soul of the Relationship.
Our significant relationship (partnership, marriage, life partner, etc.) is one that is ‘supposed’ to be soul nurturing, supportive, ‘home’, fun, easy, long term, happy, physical and logical puzzle pieces, emotionally there for one another, intellectually stimulating and sexually superb too, right?! And therein lies the problem! We are living in Fantasyland!
PROBLEM #1: We become attached to the vision of Fantasyland.
When we are so attached to a vision of what we feel our relationship ‘should’ be, we begin to get annoyed, try to change the other person, and feel that we ‘deserve better.’ The limiting belief around how we would like the relationship to be starts our dysfunctional behaviors. This hurts our own soul and the soul of our partner, and the soul of the relationship, too… and the negativity begins to set in. We start to focus on ‘our own personal needs’, not the needs of the relationship, and we forget about ‘us’ (as Terry Real says in US: Getting Past You and Me to a more Loving Relationship.).
SOUL-ution#1: Accept the good in Realityland.
Look for the good in your partner. Know that they mean well. They are most likely doing the best they can. Or have no idea they are not meeting up to (y)our expectations. Remember what you loved and appreciated at the beginning. Remember their heart. Remember that they too, are a bright light in this world, and shame on us for possibly dimming it in any way. What if we did our best to help them to shine their bright light?
PROBLEM #2: Harshness
Embedded into problem number one, when we get attached to a vision of how the relationship ‘should be’ or how our partner ‘should be’ behaving, is the place where the harshness begins… we begin to judge, we begin to want more of “blah blah blah” and there is a way of getting it that might work… but often we don’t try to help our partners be successful, instead, we judge. We are harsh both in our heads, and that is when harshness comes out of our mouths…. And as Terrence Real, Author of US, says, “No good ever comes from harshness.”
SOUL-ution #2: Soft Power
There seems to be a subtle but dramatic shift from getting our needs met from the perspective of ‘I deserve’ to helping our partners be great partners for the sake of the team. And making that shift is just that, a fresh perspective, but we must get our ego out of the way. When we get frustrated, angry, and uncaring about the situation, we have lost connection to the “us.” But HOW do we switch this? It starts with an awareness that we are in a negative state about the other person, then take a deep breath, PAUSE. Then dig deep to reconnect to the ‘us’ that you love. From that place, conversation is better. Conversation is deeper. Conversation is more authentic. Conversation is more honest. And when we connect to that place, we see even more good things in Realityland.
Problem #3: Criticism
Criticism is a cousin of Harshness, and we criticize first in our mind's eye, and in time, it comes out our mouth again; it’s funny how that happens…. The thought generates the behavior, and the result is us not feeling so good about another person. From both sides, the critiquee and critiquor. And criticizing is another one of those behaviors that makes one small… it diminishes, it dampens, it separates, it makes one want to run and hide. It hurts both of our souls.
SOUL-ution #3: Offer Acknowledgement
When we find we are criticizing in our minds and voices or returning to this pattern, it is time to go back to SOUL-ution number two and take a deep breath. Connect to ‘soft power’ (as Terrence Real puts it in the book US) again. From here, we can offer our partners an acknowledgment. Acknowledgments help us feel seen and heard. They sound like: You worked really hard this week; what do you feel like doing tonight? Or You listened to me well yesterday when I was frustrated; thank you, I felt heard.
Problem #4: Inflexibility
Our egos often get in the way of our ability to be flexible. Because our ego is that part of us that is mad and just does not want to give in to compromise. It’s the part of us that wants to stomp our feet and yell, “NO, I’m not gonna!” Most times, we don’t say that, thankfully, but perhaps our actions might say that. With no response or inaction. And this gets in the way of repairing any relationship. It’s when someone gets so set on being angry and stuck in a perspective that no longer serves the relationship. So how do we get unstuck?
SOUL-ution #4: Creativity/power of And
It takes a creative, willing mind to: 1) want to see a fresh perspective 2) get creative in how to create a win-win situation that serves both of us, both parties, and both partners. It is stepping out of ‘getting my needs met’ to getting OUR needs met. If we are committed to the relationship, we want to be creative to help achieve a win-win; if we don’t want to serve the relationship, we often stay stuck in getting our own needs met.
Problem #5: Keeping up with the jones
Always striving for more is a trap for seldom being present for those we love. It sets us up for working and missing the truly important things in life. Work becomes the priority, and living takes a back seat. The mindset of not enough and needing to constantly strive for the bigger house, the nicer car, the next job title, and the next vacation often create families and couples that barely have time for each other and may be able to find time on weekends if they are lucky, They count the dollars til the retirement goal... And hopefully, there is life left. Keeping up with the Jones has us forget about keeping up with what’s happening in our own homes at an intimate level.
SOUL-ution #5?: Knowing our values as a couple
Having a conversation as a couple to determine what is most important to both parties can be eye-opening and also help us to make decisions and understand where we get sidetracked. It helps us decide how we want to spend our time. Is it working 12-15 hours days (if money is a high priority), or is it working 5-7 hours per day and going for a hike 4 days a week? There is no wrong way to design our lives, but we have to remember that we get to design our lives together as a couple. The conversation makes all the difference.
Remember, you’re a team - Be a team always!