A healthy relationship is one where two independent people just make a deal that they will empower the other to become the best version of themselves. ‘The better I am at taking care of myself, the more I will be able to comfortably let my partner be their authentic self.’
When we meet limits within our relationships our feelings can become unbearable and we hurt our partner without realizing the longer term implications of even the most arbitrary off the cuff remark. Men in particular have a hard time expressing ourselves as we learn from an early age to repress emotions.
Oftentimes we do not look at the needs that are present and being met, or count our blessings. If we can continually strive to remain focused on the positive and practical way the needs we have that are being met we afford the relationship relief.
- How much of the relationship is intolerable and how much is tolerable?
- How much positive and how much negative?
Satisfied needs tend to be overshadowed by problems so we should be more mindful to focus on the needs that are being met.
Evaluate & Negotiate
After evaluating and attempting to negotiate the problem areas that may have been deemed intolerable, we will have acquired more experiential data with which to determine what aspects of the relationship need tending to. This is healthy behavior emotionally sober individuals exhibit.
Realistic Expectations in Recovery
I’ve found that recovery from communication breakdown requires mature thought processing and is about improvement, not perfection.
- Recovery is a journey, not a destination.
- Go easy on yourself and your partner.
- Take a break before communication break downs down.
The characteristics and strengths we are able to exhibit at any moment can ebb and flow depending on our individual levels of awareness.
We learn that we can trust someone other than, as well as, our partner. Some relational aspects will be positive, some negative. Not to realize this is to set ourselves and our partners up for certain pain and disappointment.
Relational issues should be negotiated, never used as a weapon of judgment, retaliation or resentment. Never threaten abandonment in a relationship.
- Break Time: Talk about stepping away to calm down and always be mindful to talk about the return. “I would like to talk. About the negotiation of what I want. And what you want.”
- A Gentle Will: A partnership dispute is resolved by respectful negotiation, not by heavy handed judgement or expressing reactive resentments. For example: “Would you be willing to discuss this situation, and share our respective feelings on the matter?”
- Middle-Ground: Invite inclusion and participation. Ask if your partner would be willing to discuss a certain challenging scenario within the relationship. For example: “Let us find middle ground as much as possible.”
Whenever possible, let’s seek commonality. No one person is at fault, no one is to blame, it is everyone’s responsibility.
- Express feeling words like ‘sad’ or ‘hurt.’
- Steer clear of the word ‘disappointed.’ This word only fuels anger and resentment.
- Use ‘I’ sentence starters instead of ‘You.’ Own you’re reality.
When one person approaches a conversation expecting rejection, it sparks fear and shame and shuts down access to any and all expression of positive healthy emotions. Attempt to support and assist your partner by honoring their feelings, even if, and especially when, they are afraid to do so.
- Listen with curiosity.
- Share to be known.
For example: “I want to help you work to overcome the shame of asking for what you want for fear of anticipating rejection. I will not reject you. I love you. You are safe.”
Intimacy is sharing in each other’s vulnerability.
It requires healthy boundaries, self-esteem from within and knowing when it is appropriate to reveal who we are to someone and when it isn’t.
Vulnerability is terrifying and must be incrementally entered into – only then can a foundation can be laid. With greater, steady safety and security.
In recovery the journey is the goal.