I hear many stories from individuals and couples who want to have ‘sparks’ in their relationship but they can’t get past their barriers. The top barriers I hear are communication and far too many assumptions.
We instantly assume the reasons for our partner’s undesirable behavior. We are adamant that they don’t care. We decide how they are feeling. We decide how they are thinking. We decide what their motivations are. We create a negative scenario about them and then hold them accountable for our perception of them. Doesn’t sound fair or reasonable does it?
Most people don’t even realize they are doing it. They take it personally. They interpret what is happening as an attack on them. They believe their partner is doing something to them. What’s interesting is that most of the time it has absolutely nothing to do with them!
When we take our partners actions personally, we need to stop and assess the situation.
- How did this make me feel?
- Why do I feel this?
- Is this something that I feel often?
- What do I believe about myself or my partner that causes me to feel this way?
- Is there any evidence or truth behind this belief?
- Is this me or is this my partner?
It’s always healthy to be brutally honest about your feelings – in a respectful way. I believe it’s important to talk it out. It takes communication and asking some good questions.
Try asking your partner for their perspective before imposing your own. Here are some examples:
- Can we talk about something that’s on my mind? I’m feeling uncomfortable about ‘X situation.’
- When you said ‘XYZ” – what did you mean by that?
- When ‘this’ happened, I’m curious what your thoughts were at the time.
- This is how I felt…….
When two loving partners care about each other, they are able to freely express their thoughts and concerns. There is no accusing or blaming. They can acknowledge their role in the situation and they can come to an understanding or resolution that satisfies both.
Here are some examples of what that type of conversation sounds like:
- Oh, I didn’t realize you felt that way. I was preoccupied with a situation at work and I wasn’t fully listening to you.
- I’m sorry, I forgot. I seem to do that often. I guess I need to find some way to remind myself.
- I realize that this is not as important to me as it is to you. I can pay more attention to it, however, if it isn’t showing up as a priority, it doesn’t mean I don’t care.
- I assumed you didn’t care about me and that’s not the case.
- I felt unimportant to you – but that’s my own issue. You really have done nothing to show me I’m not important to you. That’s how I view situations and I will need to change that.
- I’m sorry if my actions hurt you.
- How do we prevent this from happening – what can we both do?
- I love you.
And, not holding grudges or withdrawing love and affection. Once the discussion is over and a resolution or understanding takes place – it’s over. Drop it and move on.
Then of course – there is always the kiss and make up part!