The 1st Place to Look When Relationship Challenges Arise
A couple of weeks ago, we led our signature Thrive in Love retreat, which is always one of our very favorite weekends of the year. On the first morning, we love to dispel some outdated relationship myths and guide people into embracing a new relationship paradigm — one of thriving love.
At one point, Bret said to everyone: “Many people think relationships are a lot of work. But the truth is: you’re a lot of work.” 😉
He said this with some playfulness and lightness, but it is a very true statement.
When we are in a romantic relationship, there is no place for the scared, confused, ashamed, egotistical, wounded, messy, and less-than-perfect areas within us to hide. They all come to the surface for us to, ideally, love, heal, and transform. However, if they are not addressed consciously, they can show up in unhealthy ways.
Unfortunately for our partner, when this happens, the less evolved parts of ourselves get projected onto them so that they look like the one with all the issues…
“My partner doesn’t help out.”
“He’s always checked out.”
“She isn’t affectionate.”
“He doesn’t listen to me.”
“She’s so controlling.”
…and on and on…
However, any time we hear people complain about their partners, it is almost always an indication that they have areas within themselves to grow.
We are not suggesting that your beloved has no role in whatever is happening and in the areas of frustration for you. In fact, we are nearly certain they do! :) However, most of the time, we find that the frustrated partner is contributing to whatever the issue is — and they simply have blind spots when it comes to their ability to see their own role in it.
Determining exactly how much responsibility is yours and how much is your beloved’s isn’t always straightforward. However, what we know is this: most people spend way too much time blaming their partner and way too little time changing themselves and their approach.
What we lovingly and gently suggest to every adult in a relationship: assume that you have a significant role in whatever is happening before you assume it’s all your partner (and before you justify your own less-than-ideal actions by saying, “yea, but I only do this because they…”).
Instead, take radical responsibility for your role in creating any situation in your adult life. Of course, things absolutely happen that are outside of our control. However, whenever we’re not happy with something in our lives, our relationship and partner can become the easiest scapegoat.
The more we approach life from the perspective of taking responsibility and seeing our own role in both every challenging and beautiful thing in our lives, the freer, happier, and more empowered we can be — because we realize we get to actively CREATE the kind of relationship and life we really want.
Here are some examples of ways you can do this…
Blame: My partner isn’t listening to me.
Instead: I wonder how I can speak in a way that makes it easier for them to hear me.
Blame: My partner is checked out.
Instead: I wonder how I’ve made it unappealing to want to be close to me and what I can do to make coming closer and spending more time a more positive experience.
Blame: They are so critical and negative.
Instead: Rather than getting defensive or taking it personally, I wonder how I can better hear and see what they are really upset about and more effectively support them with that.
Blame: My partner doesn’t do what they say they’re going to do.
Instead: I wonder how I can help us co-create better agreements that work well for both of us.
Blame: I’m mad at them for…
Instead: I’m mad (or sad, stressed, scared, etc.) and am focusing my anger on them. I wonder what I’m really upset about underneath this.
Blame: You are the reason for my unhappiness.
Instead: I wonder how I can create healthier habits and a better mindset in my personal life to cultivate more inner happiness.
Blame: How could they treat me like this?
Instead: How am I setting it up so this is happening?
Blame: My partner doesn’t openly communicate with me.
Instead: I wonder how I can create a safer and more inviting space for them to share their perspective and authentic feelings.
There are countless ways you can create this shift from blaming your beloved (whether it’s about household chores, sex, how they parent your kids, finances, or how they communicate) to looking within — where the true growth opportunities are.
Again, we’re not suggesting it is all your fault, and in no way do we want you to beat yourself up or feel guilty. We just want to lovingly invite you to always make your first stop this: look at what YOU could do differently to get different results.
Remember — the health of any relationship is only as healthy as the two are individually. This means, when we enter into a relationship, we have a responsibility to always be growing and evolving ourselves — because however we don’t will negatively impact our partner and the relationship, and however we do positively affects both.
If there is anything we can do to help you make the right positive changes that will get you different and amazing results — in your life and in your love, know that we are here for you with open hearts, clear and easy guidance, and tons of compassion. We warmly welcome you to learn more about our counseling and coaching HERE or sign up for a free 20-minute consultation HERE. We also enthusiastically recommend saving the date for our next couple’s retreat, happening Valentine’s weekend, February 16-17! Registration is open, and we’ve sold out the past few years >> CenterThrive.com/courses
Have a beautiful autumnal season! May it be filled with positive growth that benefits you in every possible way!