In order to encourage positive change in your relationship, learn to embrace the discomfort and uncertainty that is inherent in making changes.
We are creatures of habit. Yet this often encourages and creates unnecessary inertia in our relationship. We find ourselves waiting (and waiting) for our partner to change. This is the ‘if/then’ mindset. If my partner changes, then I don’t have to. Yet, thinking this way is simply a lesson in futility. It keeps you stuck in the backseat of your life and prevents you from examining the changes you need to make to create a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship.
Yet more often than not, people do just that and continue to side step the challenges and issues in their relationship, But, trust me, they will continue to follow you around like a bad penny where ever you go. Arguments and disagreements become circular, leaving you feeling stuck and frustrated.
If you really want to create positive change in your relationship, the waiting game never works, so don’t do that. And honestly, it isn’t how it works and not how relationships evolve and continue to grow.
Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts. (Arnold Bennet)
- Own your own sh*t. We all have areas we can work on to help us evolve and become the person we want to be. Identify your challenges and issues. Take stock of what you need to change. Own it, tackle it, and embrace the necessary steps to move you down a new path. A path that empowers and holds you accountable to yourself and to your relationship. Don’t walk away from your challenges, run towards them.
- Improve your Emotional Intelligence (EQ). EQ is being able to manage your own emotions and express how you feel to another person without exploding. It’s critical in relationships – both at work and at home. This is a key ingredient in having healthy communication. A high EQ allows you to express how you feel and what you need in healthy and productive ways and comprises four components.
- Self awareness. Your ability to be self-aware of how you are thinking, reacting, feeling, and behaving in the moment and long term.
- Self-management. Your ability to manage yourself and is dependent on self-awareness and your ability to utilize your awareness of your emotions and stay flexible to direct your behavior positively.
- Social awareness. Your ability to be perceptive of another person's emotions and understand what's going on with them. In essence, being tuned in, not tuned out.
- Relationship management. This combination of self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness to improve relationship interactions.
- Identify your triggers. We all have triggers. Ask yourself, what are they? Why do I have them? Where do they come from and when do they occur? Many times our triggers are subconscious and evolve from our first family or past relationships.
- Communicate differently. With a few ‘tweaks’, your ability to effectively communicate can improve
- Start with a soft start up. Ask, is this a good time to talk or would another time work better?
- Turn towards your partner. When your partner is reaching out for ‘bids’ (John Gottman), then turn towards them even if in the moment you are not in the mood. This will turn up the connection between both of you.
- Take a time out. Feeling overwhelmed? Ask for a time out (short period of time) to regroup or calm yourself down. However, make a commitment to return to the conversation.
- Listen and hear. We listen, but do we actually hear what our partner is saying? Often not. We are just waiting for our opening. Listen, validate, and clarify. A little bit goes a long way.
- Be present. Turn the tv off, put your phone down, close your computer. Bam.
- Demand more. In essence, ask more of yourself and the relationship in healthy ways that promote individual and couple growth. Help one another reach your full potential. As how you can help them. They should be asking the same of you. Demanding more isn’t setting lofty expectations. It actually starts to create direction and traction to improve your relationship.
Relationships thrive when they each person makes individual changes for the greater good, shows up with intention, attention, and being present.