It seems unfair. Of the many couples that get married each year, hoping to find lifelong companionship, lasting joy, friendship and fulfillment, only about 50% will stay married, and of those that do, the vast majority, about 70%, devolve into arrangements that are unsatisfying at best, and dysfunctional or even destructive at worst.
Cheer up, however. These trends are not necessarily bad news, at least not if you think of them as information regarding what works — and doesn’t — to create healthy, vibrant couple relationships! They speak to key elements that relationships need — must have — to stay alive and thrive; and they also point to unrealistic yet prevailing expectations that need to be identified, let go of and replaced. Why? Expectations are life shaping agents. If they form thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that limit the capacity of men and women to nourish and strengthen their love relationship, they are set ups for failure.
Yes, resolving conflict is a worthy goal, and understanding “the problem” is also important. The biggest obstacles in couple communications, however, more often have to do with unlocking the heart and imagination of each partner to want to hear or listen to what the other says, to want to understand where each is coming from, and so on.
As discussed in Part 1, what you “see” subconsciously in your mind when you think of your partner and your relationship, or your “discussions” for that matter, may just be what you get.
There are are at least five prerequisites to unlocking your hearts — and subconscious minds — to break free of images and mindsets that keep each of you locked in reactive patterns, defensive showdowns, and the like.
Without empathy, we’re not connected to the otherwise amazing inner resources available to help us restore or keep our connection to built-in capacities to think and feel, and, when necessary, to shift to optimal thoughts and feelings, imagine new possibilities, transform fears, make optimal choices, and ultimately grow wiser learning from our mistakes.
It is in empathic relationships that we learn to feel safe enough to compassionately connect with what is going on inside of us — rather than run away or react aggressively — when we feel triggered or stressed.
Part 1 outlined key intentions underlying empathy, and Part 2 listed three of seven actions that naturally flow from seeking to genuinely connect with another human being at deeper levels. Here are the remaining four:
4. Seek to understand (other) before being understood.
This allows you to focus your attention on listening to understand the other’s heart with compassion (as you’d likely wish if you were them). In this place, you are present in mind and body, and are seeking what is in the highest interest of both, ultimately, to grow your compassion for your self and the other as human beings.
Healthy parenting nurtures children. A parent’s nurturing presence provides the emotional connection that not only helps strengthen the parent-child relationship, but also teaches the child how to regulate his or her emotions. Since conflict between parents is inevitable, it’s important to note a few rules parents can use to protect their children from marital issues.
If you want your children to be confident, stand up for and respect themselves, they need to learn how to ask to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn to respect themselves, and to do so in the context of the family they grow up in formative years of their lives. Respect here does not mean obedience, it means mutual and unconditional respect for self and other as human beings. In other words, if your children had the cognitive and affective development of an adult (and they won’t until they’re about 25 years of age), and they wrote you a letter, they would say something like the following:
Communication is the life tool with which we may create and strengthen our relationships, and relationships are all about emotional safety and meaningful connections.
Communication is a tool like no other. Whether verbal or nonverbal, it is to your emotional and mental health, and relationships, what food and water are to your body. You may be wondering, if talking is such a “loving” activity why do you experience so much pain in your communications with one of the most important persons in your life, your partner?
Okay, the details may be different, but overall do you get into a scripted dialogue in which you can guess what your partner is going to say or do in reaction to something you say?
(Most likely, by the way, your partner likely feels the same way too.)
The stuck feelings seem all too familiar to couples in a relationship. Like others, both of you likely wonder, at times, whether there’s a chance of ever getting the love, understanding, acceptance, appreciation, romance, etc., you want. You know, the feelings you had at the start of your relationship. It seems you’ve tried everything. Is it too much to ask to feel valued, important — and connected — in your relationship?
Gratitude is an emotion we use to express appreciation and thankfulness and joy in response to receiving a gift. It’s much more, however.
A powerful agent, gratitude can propel us with unstoppable momentum to find ways to express, exclaim and proclaim it to the world, or another person, perhaps shouting from the rooftops!
Words may not suffice to express gratitude, but this cannot stop us from trying.
Our early relationships are particularly formative. It is in early years that our brains form structures that, absent a change causing event, subconsciously, serve as reference points for relating to self and others throughout life.
Parents are often provided what-to-do-or-not-do lists to promote healthy child development, less often is the focus on the quality of emotional presence parents can bring, at any given time, to interactions with their children. In this post, we discuss two of five states of being, or “BE’S,” that parents can use as guidelines to nurture healthy relating capacity in children.
Because our mind-body refers to these early structures automatically, how we parent makes a difference. When we were children, for example, our parents’ brains subconsciously set parameters in what emotions we “should’ or “shouldn’t” feel or express, according to their own taboos and belief systems.
And yet, even when we know we’ve acted wrongly, something inside blocks us from saying so or taking action to make amends. More often, that something is a set of beliefs we hold that act as excuses.
Excuses are often assumptions that, whether conscious or subconscious, block us from taking action. Here are ten most frequent ones.
1. I’ll be seen as a bad person and not appreciated for the good things I’ve done.
This excuse also distracts us from directly resolving an issue. It focuses our attention on our fears, in particular the fear of not fulfilling our yearnings to matter and to feel we contribute value in our relationships.
This post is a continuation from Part 1 that listed four of seven mindful, conscious habits that bring out the best in life. A conscious habit is a choice to practice, remain aware and take action in the direction of working wonders in your life and relationships.
Here are habits five through seven:
Habit #5. Positive Thinking
Take complete responsibility for the thoughts you think. Your thoughts trigger emotional states that have tremendous power to energize or de-energize your momentum. One of the biggest mistakes most people make in their thinking is to focus on what they do not want, what they lack, what’s not going right, and so on.
This is a mistake because whatever we put our thoughts on is emotional energy that expands.
Think of emotions as energy in motion, which means they drive and shape our actions. Always begin every morning, each activity or interaction with others with the end in mind, focusing on what you want to create.