Setting Standards for Your Relationship

I was recently talking with a client who’s been married for over fifteen years and has been unhappy most of that time.

She married in her early twenties and admits that she was second-guessing the relationship from the start. Before she met her husband, she hadn’t met a man who showed interest in her, and she was afraid she might not ever find another.

As she and I began to work together, one of the exercises I asked her to do was to answer a variety of questions related to what she wants and needs in this type of relationship in order to feel connected.

After all, if you don’t know what you need, you won’t be able to ask for it, and your chances of getting it are slim to none. Whether that means reconnecting with your existing partner in a way that works, or creating a healthy relationship with your future partner, either way, being crystal clear on what you need will set you up for success.

When she and I had our next coaching call, she said something to the effect of, “I remember Dr. Phil had a show about setting standards in your relationship, and I was never taught how to do that…until now.

Isn’t this true for most of us? We might’ve been taught how to meet other people’s standards – how to be a good student, how to be a responsible employee, how to be a good wife, etc. – but what about how to set our own standards?

Raising Your Standards to Increase Your Quality of Life
Best-selling author and speaker Mandy Hale said: “Your life can’t rise any higher than the standards you set or the company you keep.”

So if you have low (or no) standards, your life and relationships won’t feel nearly as fulfilling as they could…and quite frankly, should. I rarely use the word ‘should’, but in this case, I have no problem saying that you should be living a life of joy, not mediocrity!

Some women fear that in setting high standards for themselves, their chances of meeting someone who can meet those standards are diminished.

In some cases, this may be a valid point. But in ALL cases, so what? Wouldn’t you rather have high standards and take a chance of being single than have low standards and live your life with someone who doesn’t treat you well and/or you’re not happy to be with?

If you believe the purpose of a romantic relationship is just to be in a relationship, no matter who’s it with, then you probably won’t agree with that statement.

But if you want the quality of your relationship to rise above your current circumstances, I highly encourage you to set your standards for ‘things’ that add value to your life…that light you up and make you feel happy to be alive!

Who Is the Right Partner for You? (Exercise Included)
So…who IS the right partner for you? How do you set standards for the relationship you desire? There are many different ways to approach this question, and here are a few insights and questions to ponder to get the juices flowing.

International bestselling author and spiritual teacher Don Miguel Ruiz offers this perspective on the right partner: “Someone who wants to go in the same direction as you do, someone who is compatible with your views and your values — emotionally, physically, economically, spiritually.”

Over the next several days, I encourage you to start writing down what comes to mind when you think about your views and values. Not what other people think. Not what you were taught as a child (unless you still resonate with that). And not what you’ve been complacent about in your current relationship.

I want you to get real and raw and honest about what you want and need! Don’t be afraid of this exercise. No one needs to see it and it’s for your benefit only.

If you give yourself permission to do this, you will feel a shift in your energy. Because you’ll be honoring your inner voice, your heart and your true desires, you’ll naturally feel better.

You don’t need anyone to validate your feelings for this exercise. You just need to show up for you!

If you’ve been trained to believe that it’s selfish to put your needs ahead of others, or to make yourself a priority, consider this…doesn’t that go both ways? If you’re considered selfish for being honest about what you want, isn’t the other person being selfish by not wanting to hear what you want?

If you don’t make yourself a priority, who will?

If you don’t set standards for what you truly desire in a relationship, who will?

And if you don’t give yourself permission to live the life you want to live, who will?

Putting These Ideas Into Practice
Answering all of these questions not only helps you set higher standards for yourself and your relationship, it also helps you feel confident in knowing what you truly want…which helps alleviate confusion.

I recognize putting these ideas into practice is often easier said than done. But I encourage you to do it anyway and start taking steps in a new and empowered direction.

Just one step at a time is all that’s needed. You don’t need to figure it all out to start.

The exercise I shared above is one of many that are included in Module 2 of my HEALTHY Path Process program. If you’re interested in learning more about this module and/or the other modules in the program, you can simply reply to this message and say “I’d like to know more”.

As always, I am happy to talk with you and answer any questions you might have. You’re not alone in this!

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