"A revelation of insight into the foundations of human suffering & transcendence. It not only lays out essential steps for inner freedom and joy but illuminates the way to true human potential." Paul Rademacher, author: A Spiritual Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe

"The masterwork of a profoundly gifted healer of the soul. Dazzling, challenging, wondrously useful." Peggy Rubin, author: To Be and How To Be, Transforming Your Life Through Sacred Theatre

"Rewiring the Soul is one the best introductions to the spiritual life I've ever read. Not esoteric but real-world and practical. The implications are profound." Peter Shepherd, author: Daring To Be Yourself

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When Your Partner No Longer Makes You Happy: 3 Survival Tips

It always seems to happen after a time, doesn't it? What starts out as sheer and utter bliss, becomes routine or much less, and one of the consequences is that your partner simply no longer makes you happy the way he/she did at the beginning.

So now what can you do?

  1. Communicate: As logical as it seems, talking is simply not one of those things many couples do when things start on the downward spiral. Or at least, they don't do it well. The issue is frequently that both partners believe that the downward spiral is the fault of the other, and so the 'talk' they do have is filled with blaming or accusations, or at the very least, guilt trips and other emotional manipulation, and so nothing is truly resolved in the talking because one or the other is always made to feel bad for their behavior or their perceived lack of something by the partner. Here are some ideas on how to better communicate:
    1. Address issues when they are fresh: don't let them linger. If one of you is hurt or angry or upset for any reason whatsoever, the issue should be discussed. The person who is upset is not necessarily right, nor is the other one necessarily right. What is important is the freedom to talk about it openly, putting both sides on the table and attempting to find a win-win solution that works for both. Some version of a win-win solution should almost always be possible. It simply means that both sides are willing to concede a point in order to leave the table with an amicable solution. On other occasions you may need to agree to disagree (see below), and sometimes using the scale of 1-10 (see below) might be helpful.
    2. Understand the meaning of healthy boundaries, discuss them and begin to implement them together. Above all, be careful about letting resentment enter your partnership if one of you is overstepping boundaries and the other has unhealthy boundaries because such resentment is ultimately poisonous for the relationship. Understand that both of you have an issue.      
    3. Be consciously aware and not blindly reactive in your reactions with your partner. Essentially this means that as long as you react impulsively when your buttons get pushed, as opposed to giving yourself a moment to choose a reaction that is good for you and good for the occasion, you will tend to bring your communication to a dysfunctional halt.
    4. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. People that don't do this tend to be afraid of standing emotionally naked before their partner. Hence they hold back many emotions, the consequence of which is, of course, that many avenues of exploration and communication with the partner remain blocked. Bringing up emotions, even if you find it difficult, is not only healthy for the relationship, but also for the person him or herself who finds it difficult to do this.
    5. Agree to disagree and learn how not to 'need' to be right. Taking your ego's needs out of the equation is a recipe for much success in a relationship. This does not mean you are to lie down and become a doormat, but that you need to ask yourself how much of your need to be right in  given situation with your partner is an ego question or is simply not important. Obviously the more both of you understand this principle and adhere to it, the more both of you will contribute to the blooming health of your partnership.
    6. Use the 'on a scale of 1-10' method for joining in activities you might find less than exciting. If your partner thrills to opera or can't wait to see the horse races, or if your partner loves football or bird watching, theatre or deep sea fishing, you might decide to do some of these activities separately as below in the point two, or, if you have a free afternoon that you actually want to spend together, and one prefers the action movie and the other prefers the romantic one, it might be a simple thing to ask: on a scale of 1-10, how important is it for you to do this? Depending on the answer, you will see which of the two is more invested in their particular choice, and assuming that this will be a two-way street on future occasions, you could then go ahead and participate in the activity of the partner with a higher rating on the afore-mentioned scale.
    7. Make a point of using dinner for daily communication - but not about issues or problems. Sit down at the table without the TV in the background (or foreground) for those 15-30 minutes that dinner takes and communicate with one another. Use that time to connect. Make it a habit!
  2. Open windows and doors to allow more 'fresh air' to enter the relationship: What I am calling 'fresh air' simply means that which the couple undertakes both together and separately: interests, activities, hobbies, friendships, etc. Just as too much of this 'fresh air' is not healthy for the relationship, so is not enough of it bad for the health of the relationship. You need to spend time together, but just as importantly, you need to spend time apart.
    1. Common activities and friendships: To have mutual friends and common interests and activities is evidently of paramount importance in a relationship.
    2. Separate activities and friendships: However, to also have separate friendships, interests, and activities is also of paramount importance in a relationship. This allows both partners to take in fresh air and bring this fresh air into their mutual contact and communication. If partners are clinging to each other for all their social activities and interests, the relationship will soon wither and stagnate, and even though people might stay together for decades or even a lifetime, the process of stagnation will have affected the quality of the relationship in ways that only become apparent when one of them 'suddenly' decides they can't take it anymore and announce they are leaving.
    3. Life meaning (for both): This is as essential to each of the partners and by extension to the relationship, as oxygen is to our bodies. I cannot underline enough how important it is for every individual to have a meaning in their life, no matter what that meaning is. This meaning should not depend on another human being, but should emanate from yourself. It should bring you joy and satisfaction and serve as a support for you when life is difficult.
  3. Recognize that your happiness is your own responsibility: This point is by far the most important one. As long as one or the other partner believes that their happiness is the responsibility of the other or lies in the hands of the other, the relationship will surely eventually slide down the slippery slope to failure. In order to implement such knowledge into your life, you will need to become very conscious and aware of all you think and do, and how you act and react at all times. This is not tremendously difficult, but does require some practice.

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