If someone were to ask you today, “On a scale from 1-10, how do you rate your level of satisfaction in your marriage/romantic relationship?”, what would your answer be? (1 being the worst, 10 being the best)
And if someone had asked you that same question 6 months ago, what would your answer have been back then? What about 6 months before that (a year ago)?
If the number is going up, it’s obvious that the quality of your relationship is getting better, and that’s a good thing!
But if the number is going down, it’s clear that the quality of your relationship is getting worse, and that’s not such a good thing.
In either case, you have way more influence over this than you may realize, and if you’re wanting that number to increase, I encourage you to try this.
Simple Exercise/Powerful Insight
I’m going to share a very simple exercise with you. And if you’re willing to play along, you’ll receive a powerful insight that can help you feel better about your relationship…even if it’s not in a good state right now.
Keeping in mind that the quality of our relationships tend to fluctuate from time-to-time, this exercise is especially helpful when your relationship has been in a funk for ‘way too long’, and you’re looking for some form of emotional relief.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen and draw a horizontal line across the top. On the left side of that line, write the number 1. And on the right side of that line, write the number 10.
Now, underneath number 1 on the left side, write down these emotions:
These are all very common emotions when feeling unhappy about a discordant relationship. If there are any other emotions you’re feeling that aren’t listed, go ahead and add them. I want this to relate to you.
Please don’t get caught up in the technicality of whether these are defined as emotions. That’s not the point. The point is to get a clear picture of ‘negative’ feelings being on the low end of the scale, and ‘positive’ feelings being on the high end of the scale.
So let’s move on to the positive emotions. Underneath number 10 on the right side, write down these emotions:
Again, if there are other positive emotions that you’d like to add to the list, please do. This may seem rudimentary, but it’s powerful, so stay with me…
Which Side of the Scale Are You Tipping?
Now that you have this scale and its corresponding emotions drawn out in front of you, take a moment to identify which end of the scale you’re giving most of your attention to on any given day.
For example, are you constantly telling yourself and others how unhappy you are? OR Are you focusing on how to gain clarity about what needs to change and appreciating the opportunity to make improvements?
Are you regularly complaining about how frustrated you are with your partner? OR Are you trying to find ways to connect and grow stronger through your challenges?
Are you always stressed out about living under the same roof and dodging needed conversations? OR Are you trusting that you have the ability to find peace within the conflict…EVEN IF you don’t end up staying together?
Now…this is where the empowerment comes in. If you find that you’re putting the majority of your attention on what you don’t like about your partner and/or relationship, you’ll continue experiencing those same unwanted emotions and circumstances until you tip your focus in the other direction.
When part of you wants things to feel better, but another part of you keeps focusing on what feels bad, it’s as if you’re arguing with yourself and then feeling even more upset because you don’t know how to change it. This is commonly referred to a ‘vicious cycle’ or ‘split energy’.
How to Tip the Emotional Scale In the Other Direction
Once you see that you’re feeding a pattern that you no longer want, you can start making shifts in the other direction by focusing on better feeling thoughts (like the examples I shared in the previous section)…thoughts that feel empowering rather than helpless.
When you focus on what you can do to make things better – instead of blaming it on your partner and waiting for him to make changes – you will feel relief. I’ll share a personal example of how utilizing the power of our individual focus can drastically shift the energy and emotions of whatever we happen to be going through.
This happened to me many years ago…I was feeling extremely frustrated with my then partner about how much time he spent on his electronic gadgets. I let it to drive me crazy, and I complained it about it often…to him and to others.
This went on for a long time with no resolution in sight. I continued to get more and more irritated and kept playing the same broken record of how much this bothered me.
And he continued to feel confused about why this bothered me so much. I never really had an answer as to why – it just bothered me – wasn’t that a good enough reason?…or so I thought.
After enough irritation and frustration built up, I started to feel angry and resentful, and that perpetuated the situation even more.
Then…one day, as I was reading A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, I had a huge moment of clarity. I don’t remember the exact specifics of her message, but I do remember that it helped me realize that on the other side of all of my frustration was a need that wasn’t getting met…an unfulfilled and strong desire that was pulling at my heart.
This revelation inspired me to change my perspective from feeling helpless to empowered. I asked myself, ‘what can I do to change this situation?’
I decided to get curious – instead of serious – about what need of mine was not being met, and the answer came right away. I needed to feel a connection with my partner. And I needed him to be present when we were choosing to spend time together, instead of distracted by electronics.
Yes…that made so much sense! And because I felt so much clarity about this, I immediately felt better. A burden had been lifted, and I was then able to communicate my need to him in a much more loving way. He finally understood why I had been so bothered, and he was happy to honor my request.
If I couldn’t even understand the root of my frustration, how could he? And if I couldn’t ask for what I needed, how would he know what to give to me?
It was one of those moments I’ll never forget. I had been making it way more difficult than it needed to be – for both him and me – because I was way too focused on the negative instead of the positive…on the unwanted effects instead of the underlying cause.
Living Life Through Conscious Participation
So, how might you be able to apply this in your relationship? Is there a particular area of frustration that you’ve been stuck in and can’t seem to find your way out of?
I encourage you to use the example I shared and see if you can tip the scale of confusion and frustration to the scale of clarity and ease. It’s actually quite simple if you’re willing to participate.
A lot of people don’t even realize how much they complain until they consciously pay attention to their thoughts throughout their day. Many of us are in a default mentality from the habits and patterns we’ve created and just go through the motions without being aware of our focus.
So, if you’re willing to participate in your life and be aware of what you’re thinking and feeling throughout the day, you can totally change it for the better. It takes time and practice, but it can absolutely be done, and it is so worth it!
Keynote speaker William Westney said: “If we’re not actively making things better, chances are we’re making them worse.”
This is the difference between participating (actively engaging) in an empowered life, or defaulting to a life you think you have no control over. Yes, there are many things we can’t control outside of ourselves, but we can absolutely control what goes on inside of us.
When I look back at the way I used to live my life by default – when my quality of life was less than desirable – it’s hard to believe that I was that person.
When I look at who I am now, and how much I enjoy my life, I feel so incredibly grateful that I was willing to learn these types of empowering lessons and participate in what I choose to put my focus on.
Going back to the original question, “is your relationship getting better or worse?”, if you’re unhappy with its current state, but you really want to make it work, try changing your focus…minute by minute, day by day, week by week, until you feel a shift.
Once you start feeling these energetic shifts, you’ll gain more clarity about what needs to change and how to go about it.
Even if you already believe there’s no way that your relationship can improve, and you know you want to leave, isn’t the quality of your life worth changing your focus anyway?
Not only will this help you through the painful process of a breakup, it will teach you how to create new patterns and not carry the old patterns into your next relationship.
Your thoughts are powerful. Your feelings are powerful. Your focus is powerful. YOU are powerful…choose to use that power for good!
Stay tuned for more mindful messages and other valuable resources – giving you helpful insights, tips and exercises to improve the quality of your life and relationships!
With love and support,
Healthy Relationship Coach
P.S. Need some extra help? Looking for objective and non-judgemental support about what’s going on in your relationship? Schedule your complimentary Relationship Breakthrough Session – I’d love to connect with you and help you tip the scales in the right direction.