How to Do More Than Just Survive Your Relationship

In last week’s message, we talked about how some people find themselves in a relationship that continually sucks the life out of them. If you can relate to that feeling, then you might also relate to the feeling of just trying to get through each day.

When I hear people say things like, ‘I’m just trying to survive’ or ‘I don’t have the energy to try to make it better’, my heart goes out to them. I remember feeling this way in my former marriage…and I also remember that my life didn’t feel so good at that time.

It felt heavy. It felt painful and confusing. It felt exhausting. Even though all of those feelings were signs that I wasn’t in the right relationship, I couldn’t figure out why.

My mind would revert to conditioned thoughts of, ‘We say we love each other, so why isn’t it working? They say marriage is hard work…maybe we’re not trying hard enough.’

Even though our friends, family and society were telling us that we just needed to stick it out, it never got better…it just seemed to get worse. It took me a long time to figure out the obvious, but I finally did, and it saved me from having to live the rest of my life in survival mode. 

The Effects of Not Listening to Our Feelings
If you’ve ever gone to counseling or any type of therapy, one of the most common approaches to working through conflict and unresolved issues is to talk about your feelings.

I remember going to a second counselor with my then husband and how she would say, “Catherine, how do you feel about xyz?”. I would describe my feelings as best as I could, and then she would ask my husband, “okay, now repeat back to Catherine what you just heard her say.”

He did not like that at all. He would visibly squirm in his chair and let out numerous sighs of frustration. More than 90% of the time, what he repeated back to me was not even close to what I had expressed.

It’s pretty crazy to realize that the man you chose to commit the rest of your life to doesn’t understand you and would rather repeat the cycle of lies, manipulation and disrespect than learn how to effectively communicate our feelings in a healthy way.

But then again, that’s what I was doing to myself. I was lying to myself by staying in a relationship that didn’t feel loving. I was manipulating my thoughts to somehow make it okay. And I was disrespecting my feelings to avoid more pain (which ironically caused even more pain).

So what did I learn from that painful chapter in my life? I learned a lot! And one of the most important and life-changing lessons I learned was that, if I wanted to live a better life, I could no longer avoid my feelings.

Your Feelings Are Your Inner Guidance System
Our feelings are a HUGE part of who we are, how we express ourselves and how we navigate through life’s challenges with greater ease and grace. When we ignore that HUGE part of us and let our thoughts dominate our conversations and choices, we are disconnected and out of alignment with our inner guidance system.

That’s what your feelings are…an inner guidance system. When you feel good and at peace about something, that’s a huge sign that you’re on the right track. When you feel awful and stressed out about something, that’s a huge sign that you’re off track.

The good news is, when you’re off track, if you continue to tap into your feelings and hear what they’re telling you, you’ll soon find your way to being back on track.

Lack of Connection With Self = Lack of Connection With Others
Since life is all about relationships, and relationships are all about connection, it’s important to know what helps you feel connected with others, especially your romantic partner.

But if you’re disconnected from yourself, and just going through the motions, how do you know what connects you with your partner? How do you communicate this to him/her?

If there’s no connection with your partner, then what’s the point? A relationship without connection is like a cell phone without service…it doesn’t serve its purpose.

Your romantic relationship is one of the most significant relationships you’ll ever have and has a strong influence on your quality of life.

If you don’t feel good about it, chances are you’re not feeling very good about yourself. And if you’re not feeling good about yourself, chances are you’re not enjoying life nearly as much as you could be.

While it’s common and somewhat ‘normal’ for couples to start out with a strong connection and then lose that connection over time, it’s not ‘natural’. And when you’re going against your nature, life feels much more difficult…this is what causes the pain and confusion…you’re not designed to live that way.

One of the most empowering things you can do in this situation is get back in alignment with yourself. Work on your relationship with yourself. Take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions.

Empowering Exercise
Over the next several days, I encourage you to sit down and get clear on what life is all about to you. This is your life, and you’re here living it, so tap into your power to make it the best life possible. Grab a piece of paper and write down the answers to these questions:

  • What are your top priorities in life?
  • What does being in a committed relationship mean to you?
  • What are the must-haves for a healthy and loving relationship?
  • What are the deal-breakers?
  • What will help you thrive and feel excited about your life?

Make a list of your core values and beliefs as well – this is always an eye opener and nice reminder of who we really are. Make sure you’re listening to your heart (not just your mind) while answering these questions. It doesn’t matter what anyone else’s ideas, values and beliefs are…it matters what YOURS are!

This exercise should feel really good. If it doesn’t, that’s most likely a sign that you’re avoiding something that’s hard for you to accept. And if that’s the case, that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it and give up. Be willing to take one step at a time…that will help you build strength.

When you show up for yourself and have a healthy and loving relationship with YOU, your relationships with others will also be healthy and loving. You can’t expect other people to give you what you’re not willing to give yourself.

The Trap of Feeling Selfish
Many of us have been conditioned to believe that we’re being selfish if we want something more than we already have. If we have a roof over our head, food on the table and a person who says they love us, then we’ve got nothing to complain about, right?

This might be true for someone who just wants to survive. But if you want to thrive, it’s imperative that you grow and stretch and expand. And it’s even more imperative that you believe in yourself and that you deserve to feel loved…not just have someone say they love you.

Dr. Maya Angelou said: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive.” That’s my mission too – are you with me? I sure hope so! You were born to live a life filled with purpose and joy and love…and it’s up to you to claim your good.

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,

Catherine Dietz
Healthy Relationship Coach

P.S. If you’re feeling off track in your relationship and want to get back on track, schedule your complimentary Relationship Breakthrough Session here. I would love to connect with you and support you however I can.