Admit it; you want to know the secret to a successful relationship.
So do I!
Relationships can be tricky
Making a relationship work is not about doing a technique well. Fixing a relationship is not about figuring out that one issue that has your partner upset.
I know this because I tried and hundreds of the smart people I’ve worked with tried. As Americans, we are inundated with ads telling us that the latest and greatest tool will solve all our problems.
Has it ever worked for you? It rarely did for me.
Making Relationships Work is challenging
What solves a problem is a new perspective—a new strategy. I can’t tell you the times I struggle to fix something here at my house in the woods, only to leave the project in frustration! One time, I was putting on a plow for my pickup, which I use as my ultimate tool. I couldn’t hook up one of the hydraulic lines. No matter what I tried, it wouldn’t connect. I gave up.
Later that day, I thought about using a vice grip. How simple. Why didn’t I think about it before?
Like a lot of people, a new perspective helped me solve the problem. The more obsessed I became with the problem, the narrower my thinking became. When I wasn’t thinking about it, I found that I solved the problem with very little effort.
Fixing a Relationship is easier with a new perspective
Relationships are the same. We get stressed by problems with our partners. We become obsessive about fixing the issue ASAP. Trying to make the relationship work by focusing solely on the immediate problem only makes both of you more frustrated. If you don’t verbally blame your partner, you are at least telling yourself he or she is at fault. Right?
Getting a bigger hammer to beat on the problem will not solve it, certainly in the long run. We know that, but that’s what we do.
So, the next time you are struggling with your partner—back off. Realize that if you take a step back, you can return to the discussion after cooler heads prevail.
If you want to fix a relationship, fix how you communicate–not what you communicate.
We get wound up where a neutral conversation becomes a heated argument. How does that happen?
It happens because of two reasons. First, the charge is rarely about what you are fighting about. As humans, we bring our past, albeit unconsciously, into the present. Old issues come out in intimate interactions.
How do you solve this? Have compassion for your partner and yourself if you get triggered.
Additionally, it’s not what you are saying as much as how you are saying it. Often, we think we are communicating emotionally when we aren’t. Sharing your insights, solutions, judgments, and suggestions is not an emotional connection with your partner.
When you back away, notice how you were communicating. Notice the subtle voice and body language expressions. Notice what your perspective was. Were you trying to win the argument versus understand and connect with your partner?
When we learn new skills we don’t expect to master them on the court. We practice first, then we bring it to the game.
To apply a new strategy and learn new skills practice when you are not in a heated conversation. Practice with others—and your partners when you can connect. Practice when you can stay relaxed so you can track what you and your partner are doing. You don’t want to be reacting. You want to be responding to subtle cues.
The perspective that you should use is not “I am going to win.” You should focus on how to connect in a way that is satisfying for both partners. You can come out and ask that. Be up front. Tell your partner you are working on changing your relationship dance.
When will you experiment with developing a new skill set? Be proactive. Don’t wait for the next crisis. Your partner will appreciate that. Today, slow down. This will help you speak to your partner in a way that draws both of you closer, rather than create more distance between you.
Let us know how it goes. I will respond. I want you to get out of fixing your relationships to truly making relationships work.
Oh, have fun doing this. It can be fun!