During this month’s theme of growth, I’m asking you to get outside of your comfort zone and inside your heart to answer some challenging questions about the health of your romantic relationship.
Why? Because if you’re not happy with it, until you face the truth of what’s going on, you won’t be able to change it.
How would you feel if I told you that ten years from now your relationship would be the same? Or even five years from now? You’d be with the same partner, repeating the same patterns, and experiencing the same level of discontent and unhappiness.
If that idea has your stomach churning, pay attention…that’s your guidance system telling you that you deserve something better. You owe it to yourself to listen to that guidance, and I have some empowering insights and questions that will help.
To Be or Not To Be
Romantic relationships are supposed to be loving, healthy and stable. When you feel supported, respected and valued, and you’re excited about being with your partner, it’s definitely on the right track.
Romantic relationships are not supposed to be cold, lifeless and unsafe. When you feel criticized, resentful and unloved, and you can’t stand to be around your partner, it’s definitely not on the right track.
This is simple enough to understand, and we all know this on an intuitive level. Unfortunately though, so many of us have been bombarded with other people’s ideas about what it means to stay true to our commitments, that we end up staying in unhealthy relationships and feel like a failure if we can’t make it work.
Staying True to Commitments and Vows
Just this past week, I received an email from a woman who is seeking help with whether or not to stay in her relationship. She shared some of the details of “a very rough time” she and her husband are having, and my heart went out to her as she described what this is doing to her:
“I am completely shut down right now…I don’t know what to do….I am exhausted, especially emotionally.” She told me about some of the ugly and repetitive patterns they’re in and then went on to say, “The only thing that keeps me going everyday is my vows.”
Now, I totally agree that the vows we make are significant and are not to be taken lightly. However, I do not agree that vows and/or other forms of commitment are intended to mean that we put up with whatever comes our way, and stick it out forever even when it doesn’t feel loving.
I wrote an article on this very subject (which I shared in my response to her), and you’re welcome to read it here. It offers some questions that you can ask yourself about what vows, love and commitment mean to YOU.
When you answer these questions truthfully, and you’re willing to be honest about whether or not you and/or your partner are practicing the promises you made to each other, you can use that information to make healthy changes.
This may mean that the two of you commit to working on the issues that are causing conflict and ultimately return to the intended state of harmony. Or, if that’s simply not possible (and sometimes it’s not), it may mean that it’s time to lovingly let go of the relationship.
As Long As We Both Shall Love
Even though a committed relationship is designed to bring two people together to share their lives in harmony, statistics show that at least 40% of married couples later find themselves in a state of pain so great that they end up saying they hate each other and spend thousands of dollars to get divorced.
This is a sad fact, but we can’t avoid the truth. Or can we? And if a couple goes into their relationship with love, even if they don’t stay together, why can’t they end it with love?
I wonder how many love affairs have gone sour due to a lack of honesty. I wonder how many unexpressed feelings have festered and grown dark with resentment from a lack of understanding.
Author Mandy Hale said: “A healthy relationship doesn’t drag you down. It inspires you to be better.”
It is not your partner’s responsibility to make you feel better, and vice versa. It is your job to feel good about yourself first and then share your awesomeness with your partner.
That being said, when your significant other reminds you how awesome you are, through their loving words and actions, you naturally feel even better than you did on your own. But if they repeatedly talk down to you and disrespect your feelings, this lack of love will cause you to feel dragged down in your relationship.
It Starts With YOU
So…it’s up to you to first be true to yourself and then to your commitment to others. When you do this, you won’t allow others to treat you poorly. And you’ll have enough love for yourself to be honest about your feelings.
I used to think that holding back some of my feelings was an act of kindness toward my then partner…because I didn’t want him to feel rejected or that his efforts weren’t appreciated.
The truth is, even though he wasn’t doing anything wrong, there were certain things that really bothered me deep down. But I dismissed my own feelings because I was too afraid of hurting his.
I kept telling myself that I had more inside work to do and that I could eventually learn to accept our differences. But as time went on, I started to feel resentful. Not because he wasn’t honoring my feelings, but because I wasn’t honoring them! I was trying so hard to accept ALL of him that I didn’t realize that I wasn’t accepting ALL of me.
This was a huge a-ha moment for me. How could he possibly do anything to help alleviate what I was struggling with if I wasn’t even being honest with myself, let alone with him?
That pivotal moment was a HUGE step toward a healthier path. A path that led to more honesty and less fear. More respect and less resentment. More hope and less disappointment. And more light and less darkness.
It’s Time to Get Real (Exercise Included)
Now it’s your turn. When you’re in a state of emotional pain in your relationship, you can begin to heal that pain by identifying its source. It starts with being honest with yourself about what’s not working.
- What are you upset about?
- What part of you is not being heard or understood?
- What need is not being met?
It’s not about blame, being right, or changing the other person. It’s about honesty…plain and simple, down-to-earth honesty.
When you choose to listen to and face the reality of your feelings with honesty, even if it’s difficult, it enables you to follow your guidance system with a lot more ease and grace. But when you dismiss your feelings or beat yourself up for having them (usually based on other people’s opinions), you are ignoring that guidance and causing yourself unnecessary stress and pain.
If you want true love to last, you must be truthful…in your relationship with yourself, in your relationship with your partner, and in your relationship with life.
I know some of this may not be easy. But I also know that you absolutely deserve to have the fulfilling relationship you desire, and you might experience some growing pains along the way.
If you’re struggling, please remember that you’re not alone. And know that you will grow from all that you’re going through (more on that subject in next week’s message).
Stay tuned for more mindful messages. Giving you helpful tips and exercises to improve the quality of your life and relationships!
With love and support,
Healthy Relationship Coach
P.S. If you’re feeling stressed out about your romantic relationship, and you’d like to receive some objective feedback and guidance, go here to learn more about your complimentary Relationship Breakthrough Session. My schedule for April is filling up fast, so I encourage you to reserve your call now.