Rescue Your Relationship
Love, Love, Love and love. Long - lasting and passionate relationships. Better mood, better health and longer life. Happier parents, secure children.
“That’s all I want - just to find someone who gets me” A catch phrase in movies, songs and in the hallways of life with Mick Jager’s “You can’t always get what you want” phrase. But if you try real hard, you might just find you get what you need…and, most of us need a close/intimate relationship. Its in our DNA, our code of life.
“Is our relationship worth saving?” A question I’ve heard countless times. As a therapist who has worked with hundreds of couples over the years, I’m amazed by these couples stories of their journeys together; the anticipation, excitement and the hope for their future. A few breaths later are the tales of disappointment, conflict, and anxiety of what the future holds for them. Divorce rate is frequently quoted to be about 50%. Many people remarry and for them the divorce rate is above 60%. The number of stepfamilies have increased steadily and are now becoming the norm for many. Research on children of divorce is revealing many challenges that they will need to face in their own relationships, health, and emotional sense of security. And how important is this emotional sense of security? It is the life blood of healthy love relationships. Maybe the question these couples are really asking is “Can we ever feel secure and connected to each other?” “Can I ever feel happy again?” “Will therapy really help?” Relationship success embodies emotional wellbeing and abundance regardless of socioeconomic status. How do we know when to put the metal to the peddle so to speak and learn ways to rekindle or “fix” love relationships and when to make the decision that ending the relationship is the best option?
The answers lie within the relationship you have with yourself. Below the layers of indecision, frustration, anxiety, jealousy, anger and any number of other feelings is your wisdom. This is accessible at any age if the interest is there. I often tell couples that a key part of communication with another is understanding themselves. This creates an openness that is vital to understand your partner. Mindfulness is a way of thinking and behaving that is becoming quite popular in the psychological treatment of stress and mood problems. Mindfulness is the act of awareness and acceptance of the present situation and through this state a lot can happen! It’s a very simple process yet incredibly complicated at the same time. That’s because it involves our thoughts and behaviors that are habituated - in other words the longer the problems have been there the stronger the habit. Crisis situations can be great learning times - this is when we are motivated to action - so when crisis brings a couple to the therapist’s office there is an opportunity to “end this craziness’ or “finally take action” and experience something new, learn and change the old habits of communicating.
Mindfulness. The word may bring images of meditation/prayer and sitting quietly. Mindfulness is an active process that can be very useful in everyday life. Try this. Imagine a person in your life, partner, family member, good friend that you have recently had a conflict with. Bring to mind that incident in as much detail as you can. When you think about the incident zero in on the most distressing moment/image. Be there for that moment despite its discomfort. Breathe as you practice watching the event and pay attention to what you are thinking and what your body is doing now. Observe it as you would a video and notice how you feel. This exercise can give you valuable clues. As you notice any negative physical sensations or thoughts allow them to pass through your mind as soon as you recognize them. Do this for a couple of minutes. At the end of this exercise take 3 slow and even breaths and let yourself relax completely. Notice any thoughts, insights, or ideas that may have emerged. Whatever reaction you have, accept it. Avoid judgment of the experience. The key to a great love relationship is learning to accept yourself and your partner as they are…..and negotiate differences at the same time! That is why a healthy relationship is both an art and a science. The good news is that it is within anyone’s reach. The only requirement is desire.
The next time you find yourself judging your partner, consider this as a potential opportunity to practice mindfulness in your relationship. For example, the words “You always…or You never….or You’re just like…” may be trigger phrases to remind you that here you are. Stop and try to understand what just happened. Rewind the video in your mind by using your breath to help. Think three even breath. If you can, communicate this to your partner, otherwise take a time out to clear the emotional air so to speak. This is vital. When our emotions are activated by pain we can quickly become out of control. After a certain point, there is no holding back and the conflict will replay itself out it its usual format. The aftermath is usually pain, no real resolution in sight. These incidents may happen and I like to encourage couples that I work with to keep on the road…learn and try again. Intimacy is created by confiding what we think and feel and being able to express physical affection. This doesn’t have to be sexual but it can be…the heart of the matter is feeling a sense of safety within the relationship. By learning mindfulness skills, we can take an active part in building passionate and long lasting love relationships both with ourselves and the one we love.