We have a unique approach to romantic relationships—we think they should be easy.
Yet, we encounter so many couples who tell us that their relationships are hard work. Why do these people stay in such relationships? Two basic reasons. 1) They prefer the known to the unknown. 2) They believe that they have lessons to learn and the hard work is helping them grow.
There’s an easier way to grow. And we explore what that looks like in this article . . .
First off, in all the work we do with couples we see the same thing. People grow more when they feel safe than when they have their buttons pushed. Why? Because when we feel safe we let down our armor. This allows us to be more present, to truly feel our feelings. If we are in touch with how we feel and we share our feelings in an appropriate way we can create greater intimacy. And we believe this is where the real growth occurs.
Being in a wonderful relationship does not have to result in complacency—not for those of us who are committed to personal growth. So there is no downside to allowing your relationship to be easy.
Second, we believe that the primary point of a romantic partnerships is to nourish ourselves by being with our partner. Yet, again, when we ask couples if they nourish or drain themselves by being in relationship, a surprising number say that they drain themselves. Some say that they exhaust themselves!
By the way, did you notice the way we are using our language in the previous paragraph. We did not say, “My partner nourishes me,” or “My partner drains me,” or “My partner exhausts me.” We are saying, “I nourish myself,” or “I drain myself,” or “I exhaust myself.” Do you feel the difference?
If I say that my partner nourishes me or my partner exhausts me then I am holding my partner responsible for how I feel. If I say that I nourish myself or that I exhaust myself then I am taking ownership of how I feel. This is an example of ReSpeak, which is a way of using language without ever presenting ourselves as victims. Instead of holding other people responsible for how we feel we take responsibility for creating our own feelings.
Using ReSpeak, if I’m angry I say, “I’m angering myself,” or “I’m making myself angry.” If I am bored I say, “I bore myself.” If I am delighted I say, “I delight myself.” This simple shift in language elevates the level of all of our conversations and eliminates a great deal of conflict and tension.
Okay . . . back to our point, we either nourish ourselves or drain ourselves with our partners. Which do you do? Is your relationship hard work? Do you tire or exhaust yourself when you need to work through something with your partner, or is it easy and flowing?
So much of this has to do with our expectations. If you expect a relationship to be hard work, it probably will be. That’s why we are introducing you to this idea that romantic partnerships can be easy—nourishing.
When we have a challenging topic to discuss we start off by reminding one another that we are best friends, that we are on the same “team.” We then take turns talking—without interrupting one another. We use ReSpeak, which means that we never blame the other person for how we feel. So there is no need to get defensive. There really is no need for conflict or tension.
Sure, occasionally one of us wants something that the other one doesn’t want, but if we keep the big picture in mind these little differences really don’t matter. The big picture, for us, is to be kind and respectful—to treat each other the way we want to be treated. The result, we both nourish ourselves in our interactions. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than this.