When a relationship becomes a one-way way street, it ends up at a dead end sooner or later. Learn to keep the traffic flowing both ways with conversation, forgiveness and mindful awareness to keep your relationship growing well into the future. It all starts with that inner conversation you have with yourself. Be aware of it, and find how easy it is to nurture your relationship in the direction you want it to go.
At one time or another, we all transfer the frustrations from our day onto our partners. Don’t get upset, it’s natural. People turn to the ones they trust, to those closest to them, to vent. The problem is your loved one doesn’t always know that you’re venting and can take it very personally.
That doesn’t mean you have to stop venting. It just means you need to be aware that you are venting. That way you can take the guesswork out by telling your partner why you’re venting. When you are mindful of the person across from you, it’s easy to help them understand the “why” behind the “what,” so they’re not left guessing if they are the one you’re angry with.
Just acknowledging that you’ve had a bad day can help you change your tone from exasperation to understanding. Being aware of how short your fuse has become means you can keep yourself from escalating a harmless comment into a full-blown argument. Being aware of your own volatility also puts you in a better place to show your partner how to do the same.
It doesn’t have to be a bigger deal than that. When you feel yourself escalating, take a breath, step back and explain why you’re upset. Take a moment to see where an issue came from. Let them know it’s not them, it’s the world.
If you feel defensive, ask yourself what you’re afraid of. If you are angry, ask yourself where it originated. Then explain it. Because when you are aware of the issues you brought in the door, you can ask your partner where theirs came from, too. You can become the change you want to see in your partner and in your relationship. You’ll find it’s easier to create change when you lead by example, and that starts with simply being aware.
Un-Filter Your World
The world you know is filtered through your hopes, dreams, fears and worries. The beauty and the ugliness you see in the world is not how the world is, but the world viewed through your emotions. It’s not good or bad. It just is. That’s how the brain works. The moment each of you becomes aware of your emotions is the moment you start to see how often egos can undermine your relationship. Then you can move past them so that you can build the world you want to build together.
Forgive the Imperfections of Life
Forgive yourself for not getting everything done in your day. Forgive yourself for the faux pas you made at the office. Forgive yourself for letting someone get under your skin. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Now, forgive the one you love for exactly the same things, and see how that changes the energy of the room you are in. Don’t let your fears ruin your relationship. Let your relationship be the foundation you need to overcome your fears.
Sow the Seeds of Love
Love doesn’t disappear in a cataclysmic fireball. It gets choked behind a wall of doubt and indifference. The seeds of doubt are planted when you realize that your partner doesn’t like to get their hands as dirty as you. Or maybe it’s when you realize that they don’t enjoy the level of sophistication that you do. Those are the seeds that grow into thoughts that only you can hear. If left unattended, they twist and turn around each other, growing into a knotted bramble. You don’t have to let them grow, though. You can clear that bramble up by sharing your hopes and concerns. You can rely on the love and understanding that created your relationship to sow the seeds you want through compassion, forgiveness, honesty — oh and yes, lots of talk. With those tools you can grow a garden that bears wonderful fruit well into the future.
Be Perfectly Imperfect
You are perfectly imperfect. So is your relationship. Don’t let someone else’s idea of how your life should be, ruin the life that is. Everyone has their ideas of love, life and connection. Always remember that this is your relationship. Don’t allow the dreams others have for their life shade what you want for yours. Be honest, be open, and allow yourself to experience and explore what you have without judgment. Give yourself permission to laugh and be silly, and to enjoy. Allow yourself to love and be loved unconditionally, no matter what others may think. Let your love flow back and forth, because that is what creates a two-way relationship that lasts.
Most important breathe slow and smile. That’s the first step to diffusing, redirecting and keeping the traffic flowing
Jeff Cannon works with couples and singles to help them create meaningful and lasting relationships based on honesty, love and understanding.