I get lots of email about relationships. Everyone wants to find true love or break away from an "abusive" relationship. So, most of my posts try to help you in your search. But I thought I might try a different approach today. What if you saw your mate, the one you're already in a relationship with, in a fresh light? We are all so busy looking for the "red flags" that we miss seeing the wonderful. I think sometimes we throw away perfectly good relationships in search of the mysterious "something better".
If you are gathering up the evidence that your relationship is headed South, then you already have one foot out the door... What you look for, you will find. So, if you're looking for evidence of his being unfaithful, for instance, you brain WILL find something. You'll second guess everything he ever says. You'll assume every female in his life is a potential marital saboteur. You'll question his every motive until you have indeed convinced yourself that he must have cheated. "Look at all this evidence I found!" But perhaps, could I implore you to maybe look for reasons to... stay.
Today, let's look on your partner with eyes of love and see if any of these reasons apply to you.
(I've written this for both sides of the couple, but I'm going to write if from a female perspective and use the "he" pronoun for simplicity sake. )
- You can sit together in silence and do nothing in particular and still be perfectly happy in each other's company.
-You know that arguments are not necessarily deal breakers. It's never easy to confront a situation but you know that you are safe and loved enough to bring your issues to the table to talk them out. Problems will be worked out and not ignored, belittled or dismissed.
-He accepts you for who you are, blemishes and all. He accepts your kind of crazy and doesn't judge you! Go ahead and give in to that urge to get tacos late at night! He lets you watch all the award shows you want. He knows you're going to put your cold feet on his warm skin... and he LETS you!
-He is real with you. He's opened himself up so you could see his soul. He trusts you with his yesterdays and his tomorrows.
- You guys have future plans! It's on the calendar!
-Your heart still flutters when you see his name on your phone.
-You love hanging out with him. You just enjoy his company. You never run out of things to talk about and he makes you laugh. Whether it's something big like vacations or something small like folding laundry. You can't think of anyone else you'd rather fold your sheets with!
-Physical intimacy. He KNOWS you and knows your body and knows what you love and knows how to wake you up in the morning, and knows that a kiss or a touch can mean so much. He can speak to you with a simple touch.
-Trust. This is the person you can trust with your feelings, your secrets, your ambitions, your fears, with your whole being. You can go to him with anything and he will not betray that trust by judging you or not giving you the benefit of the doubt, or his undivided attention. He believes in you. Your conversations belong to you.
-He remembers the little things. Your birthday. That your favorite ice-cream is coffee and it's your reward to yourself. That you need quiet time to regroup. How you take your coffee in the morning... and makes it for you. That daffodils are your favoritist-favorite flower. That you don't like onions on your burgers... the little things.
-He shows up. He is there for you, supporting you and encouraging you. He's the one on the side-lines saying, "Yep, that's MY girl! Isn't she amazing?" He is by your side during times of trouble or even during that stupid Christmas party you're going to make him go to.
-Your families have blended. Your family accepts him as part of your life and his family loves you too.
-He says "I love you." ... and means it.
(and says it on his own! Not just "love you too"!)
-He knows you need best-friend time.
- When you are broken or hurting so deeply he is there. He is beside you or giving you space. He is close by when you need a hand. He catches you as you are falling and gives you a safe place to land. He protects you while you grieve and work through your heartbreaks. He helps you up when you are ready to stand on your own again.
-He touches you when he passes by. He kisses your neck. He holds your hand. He rests his hand on your leg while he's driving. He kisses you hello. He kisses you good-bye. He kisses you good-night.
-You are a priority. He carves time out of his life for you. No matter what. Even if he has to work seventy-two hours that week, he makes time to shoot you a text with a kissy-face emoticon.
-He respects you.
-You're comfortable. You can read each other's moods. You have that perfect secret language. You can sing off-key in the shower. He can dance in his boxers. He can talk baby-talk to the dog. He will wipe away the cookie crumbs from your shirt. He knows what you look like without make-up on and lounging in sweats and loves you anyway.
-You are not a secret. He is proud to have you in his life. You are not a second choice.
-He always texts you back.
-He is faithful to you. He never gives you reason to doubt. He doesn't flirt on Facebook, or text with other women or exes. He is open and honest about the relationships he has with women, (friendships, co-workers, etc.) No secrets.
-He would protect you if bad guys ever broke in.
-You miss him when he's not around... even if you're mad.
-That way he looks at you...
-He loves you. He really loves you... even when he's mad.
So... now see there? Isn't he wonderful?? How could you even THINK about leaving this person???
Sometimes couples have been together for such a long time that they forget to see all the reasons WHY they have been together for so long!
Time invested. Love invested.
Don't let your relationship- your perfectly good relationship- slip into boring and a mundane passing of time. Find that spark again, don't take your love for granted and make sure he knows that you think he is the perfect one for you. (And tell him the reasons too!)
And if there IS a bit of turbulence in the relationship, just look over the above list again and this time, make the list happen. Be those things, do those things and you'll be the wonderful person from that list.
Start today. Take a closer look at your relationship and see all the reasons you should stay together. If you spend the time to forever "woo" your love, you will be in love forever.
Change Your Perspective
I am so happy. Even though I have to work Every. Single. Day in a job that I hate. (for now!) I am happy. On my way to work, I pass palm trees and spooky trees (you might call them Live Oaks with Spanish Moss dangling from them) and beautiful bays of salty water. The air is warm and the sky is blue.
If I chose... I could focus on my long hours every. Single. Day. The pain in my hands and back and feet. People missing from my life. Poor tipping habits and fussy co-workers.
Both sets of events are happening in my life on a daily basis. Which outlook do think I should choose?
Every morning, when we wake up we make the choice in how we are going to face our day. It's a lot harder to get sucked into a bad mood when you start your day with a positive attitude.
I know life isn't all sunshine and roses. I don't pretend that it is, but everyone has bad things happen to them. The one's that come out ahead are the ones who choose to face it with a glass half full kind of attitude. You could, if you wanted to, stew over the event, or action and let it ferment inside you and sour your point of view and double the pain in your back or knees and see the world as a darker place... or you can know, that this to shall pass. Get past it. Don't let things defeat you! Change your perspective!
On the days that the sun doesn't shine and the world really is dark and gloomy, all I have to do is close my eyes and think on things that make me happy. I find my sunshine in my grandchildren's faces. The ocean waves coming into shore. It's always there, sometimes I have to search a bit for it. But I always find it.
So much with how we solve problems is how we react to them. Change your perspective. There's a saying out there that says Looking back, I've survived with 100% success all the days so far, so that's a pretty good track record. I love that!!
I promise you, I am not always happy and bouncing off the walls. Most days, I'm pretty quiet and reflective. But I am no less happy that I woke up this morning.
Here's a few tips that might help change your perspective as you go through your days....
-Take a step back. Look at the bigger picture. How is this going to affect you in 10 years? 5 years? 5 months? 5 days? There is some serious stuff going on out there in the world today. Whatever my little problems are, they don't even measure up to what other's have to deal with.
- Literally, change your perspective. Look at the world, the room, the office, the car in a different way. Lay on the ground and look up. Climb to a higher space and look down. Stand on your head. Close one eye. Walk on your knees. Suddenly, things look so different! Your eye catches things it would have never seen otherwise.
- Remind yourself that "failure" is just a learning curve. We all go through trials to make us stronger. What can you learn from this set back?
- Every day, is a new day. Be thankful that you woke up! The day is already looking better! Yesterday is gone. It's not coming back. Let the events from yesterday go with it. Today, you can choose to start of happy or sad. Fearful or triumphant. The choice really is yours. (Don't believe me? Try it out for a week. You'll be amazed and think I'm really awesome!)
- Remind yourself that everyone is afraid of something. Has lost something. and loves something. We don't know what another person is going through... so if they come at you with a foul attitude, respond with kindness... always.
- This too shall pass. It's just another "day in the life". When we're looking back on our lives we may not even remember these trials. Or we may look back and realize the strength it took you to get past it. But don't let it show that this is where you gave up. Don't let your circumstances defeat you. This too shall pass.
- Everyone... let me say that again.... EVERYONE who now has the sun on their face has been through the shadows. No one escapes hard times. They come in different forms and they come at different times and the devil is relentless, but the sunshine is just around the corner, I promise.
Even when I get to work, I may get knocked down a notch or two, my smile may fade a little as the day or memories ware away at me, but then... on my way home... I pass palm trees and spooky trees and beautiful bays of salty water and when I open the door to my home, my big black dog is there and she thinks I am the greatest thing ever.
So, if your days are dark and gloomy, perhaps you need to look at the other side of the street. There IS some sunshine SOMEWHERE. You just have to find it. Life is too short to be miserable. Find your sunshine and blue salty water... change your perspective.
What Do You Really Want?
It seems like a simple enough question. What do you want? I mean, what do you really want? Have you given yourself permission to even think about it?
I now live on an island. Everyday if I drive more that a few miles, I will inevitably go over a bridge. Looking over the edge of that bridge knowing that the ocean is just a bit away, fills me with joy. Seeing the sunshine bounce off those beautiful blue waves just... does something for me. Simple right? It was a need that I didn't know I had. This time last year, I had to ask myself that question. What do I want? What do I REALLY want? All I knew was that I was cold, and didn't like it. But I didn't know what it was, specifically, that I wanted that would make me happy.
And when you first ask it a whole bunch of "superficial" answers come up. I want cake. I want a million dollars. I want that new dress. I want to travel the world. I want, I want, I want... and then, if you keep at it, you dig a little deeper.
I want more time with my children. I want to sleep peacefully at night. I want to live in a warmer climate. I want to write and write and write... and yes, if you keep going, it gets deeper still. You start to realize those deeper needs; the important ones that get glossed over as we push through our daily routines.
It's hard to look in the mirror and realize that you are not where you want to be. But you can't change that, until you know what you want. So I offer this exercise up to you.
Take out a sheet of paper and write. I WANT...
Then, set a timer for three minutes and write. Write everything you want. Even if it seems outrageous. Even if it seems selfish. Even if it seems impossible. Write. Don't pick up your pen from the paper until the timer goes off. Don't worry about being descriptive or specific or spelling or what anyone else might think. This is for you. Write.
If you get stuck, answer these questions, but keep writing.
Where do you want your finances to be? Where do you want to be health-wise? Who do you want to be with? What items do you want? Where do you want to live? What do you want to own? How do you want to spend your day? What do you want to do to earn an income? How do you want to spend your down time?
Dig deeper. How do you want to give back? How do you want to continue to grow? How do you want to be remembered? How do you want to affect others in your life? How can you show love to others?
When you have finished, choose the top ten things that matter the most to you and re-write them on another clean sheet of paper. This time around, we are looking for balance. Find at least one thing in each category. Finances, relationships, recreation, health, career etc...
You can't find happiness if you don't know what it is. It's like trying to hit a target that you know is "out there" but you just can't see it. Bring it in to focus. Once your brain knows what it is looking for, it will switch gears to try and get it for you. (You have to take the steps to get there, of course...) But the brain will start thinking of ways to get you what you want.
I believe that our purpose here on earth is simple. We are here to give back. Whatever gains you have been blessed with, give some back. I'm not just talking about finances. Giving of your time, your knowledge, your resources, your love... give what you have and it will be returned to you ten-fold. I know this to be true for a fact.
And the other thing, how do you want to grow? I believe that if you get all the best "toys" and are living the biggest house, it will never be enough until you find balance. And part of finding balance is to make sure you're always growing. Learn new things, see new places, meet new people, strive to become a better you.
Okay... sorry, back to the exercise.
Take your ten things in your various categories and write a sentence or two about WHY you want these things. Unveil your heart. Again, this is only for you. Why do you want your top ten list? Your brain functions on reason more than want. So write down the reasons you put this on your top ten. (It would be helpful if you write down more than "just cause". -Can you tell I'm used to working with teenagers? Lol!)
Then, when do you want them. Write a time line for each of the ten items. (You might need to be a little more realistic on this one. If you want a million dollars, it might need a bit more time to show up than 24 hours!)
And then, read your list. Every day. Every night before you go to bed. Keep those things in your mind. And slowly check them off when they come into your life. (Then replace them with new things!) Trust that the future you want WILL come to pass.
Yes. Yes. A lot more goes into getting what you want other than making a list. But first thing before all else... you have to know what you want.
So, just for fun. Take a few moments and spend them on yourself and discover what it is that you want.
Some things you may realize that you already have in your life but have perhaps taken them for granted. This is the time to freshen up or take a new look at what's around you. Maybe you don't want things to change too much, but you just have to love (or find new ways to love) what/who you have a little more.
I knew I needed a different life, but I didn't know what. It wasn't until I saw that I really needed to do some major changing to clean out the toxicity in my life, that I could make those changes. And I did. I see the ocean (or at least arms of it) every day. It was one of those things I wanted. Really wanted. And I am happier for it.
I check my list everyday and am pleased to say that I cross things off and replace them with new items all the time. It works to corral your focus and really get what you want.
So let me ask you... What do you want?
(Did somebody say cake?)
Good, long lasting communication begins with listening. I know. It doesn't sound right. When we think of communicating we think of talking. When actually, communicating is the art of making your heart be known to your partner. Understanding and receiving the information that your partner is trying to give you.
Many times in this dance of making ourselves heard, we seldom take the time to listen, to hear with our hearts. A lot of our time talking we "pretend" to listen until there's a gap when it's our turn to talk again. So, we're not really "hearing" the other person, we are preparing our next speech. Therefore... things do not get communicated, conflicts to not get solved, hurts do not get healed.
Other times, we so want to help the person who has come to us in their time of need that our minds drifts to ways we can "fix" their situation. We jump to conclusions at the first hint we hear of a fixable problem and tune out the emotion that lies underneath.
True understanding of what another person is saying does not happen until FEELINGS are conveyed. When you truly "listen" for the emotion that your someone is trying to tell you, they will feel more understood, cared for and safe and you will be better able to help them, if that's indeed what they are searching for. You'll find that if you gloss over this very important part of communication, the same disagreements or conflicts will continue to come up over and over again, because whether they realize it or not, their underlying issue has not been met.
Many times it's not just words. Sometimes we can't convey our emotions and we sputter out words we don't necessarily mean. This is where your heart listening skills will become imperative. You are looking for the emotion behind the words. Listening for the heart of the matter.
Women especially are likely to come at their partners with words. Lots of words and can leave a man baffled at what she is really wanting. Sometimes we're not even sure, we just know that something isn't right.
Men are usually the "fixers". Skip the emotion- let's get to the fixing it part so we can call it a day. A lot of men don't seek verbal acknowledgement of things that are troubling them, they like to think that their partner will figure it out. (Hint: We are not mind-readers as much as we may pretend to be!)
So, here's a few hints to help resolve conflicts that might come up by using this skill we all have ( even if it might be a little dusty) called: listening...
- Listen for "feeling" words. Words like: hurt, sad, angry, ignored, helpless, happy, scared, insecure... for example. Those are usually the root of the issue. If you haven't learned to speak your emotion with "feeling" words, that would help a great deal. But a lot of times, they do happen to slip out so listen for them.
- Allow their emotion to reach your heart. It might sound odd at first, but if you can learn to empathize, you will be able to help your partner so much more. When you allow the emotion to touch your own heart, it will be easier to come up with a solution. See where your partner is coming from.
- Don't rush to "fix" anything at first. Just listen. If we don't become aware of the underlying issue, we could be working on fixing the wrong things. Take a moment. Hear them out. Don't talk over them and wait until they run out of words.
- By letting your partner know that you are truly and wholeheartedly interested in finding the source of the problem, they will feel more secure. By listening, they know you are willing to listen, they are more likely to trust and take the emotion down a notch, so that healing can actually begin without "walls" in the way.
- Don't judge. Don't belittle. Don't jump to conclusions. Don't be defensive. Just listen. You'll get your turn. When you develop a relationship that allows you to feel secure to come to each other with problems or conflicts knowing that they will still love you even if you have issues to work out, will make your relationship stronger than you ever thought possible.
Effective communication, is one of the core values of a healthy relationship. We are all going to have conflict or feel troubled. It is important that your partner be there for you and vice versa. Be willing to listen, be comfortable sharing and give your partner the security of being in a trusted, safe, unconditionally loved place.
When to Say, "I'm Sorry."
Every couple is going to have disagreements, arguments and maybe even a few knock down drag outs, and all will be well, but I promise you, there will be times when a line has been crossed and your only way to mend the wound is by offering an apology.
Why is "I'm Sorry" so hard for some people to say?
I'm pretty sure it's a pride thing. When you are willing apologize to someone, you first have to admit that you did something wrong. And who likes to do that? Next, you have to put your partner's feelings above your own, and acknowledge that you have caused harm. A humbling task.
Pride is a powerful thing to set aside. But if you continually:
-pretend that an offense never happened
-downplay the hurt
-refuse to take ownership of the infraction
-avoid communicating (with the intent of resolution)
... then pride will destroy your trust, intimacy and may even destroy the relationship itself.
Don't let pride steal the intimacy from your relationship. Allow yourself to be vulnerable to the fact that you just might be at fault.
Avoiding the conversation is not the same thing as resolving it!! By pretending the offense never happened will do far more damage in the long run. You may be able to distract your partner a time or two or charm them into forgetting the offense this time, but believe me, it will catch up to you. No amount of charm or chocolates are going to save you now!!
So go ahead. Do the deed. Don't put it off any longer. Take responsibility for hurting your partner's feelings and do what needs to be done to salve it. Not sure how to go about it?
Here are a few tips:
- Just start by saying it. I'm sorry. (That will get their attention!) But don't stop there...
-address the problem (I'm sorry for...) Let your partner know that you are acknowledging the unhappy emotions you caused. This, usually means more than anything else you can say. Try to identify with your partner's feelings. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is to your partner. Don't argue your point, use this as a chance to try and understand.
-really make an effort to say and show how you are going to change in the future in case a similar situation arises. What's the point of apologizing if you have no intention to change? Make sure your partner knows you regret causing the pain and that you sincerely want to work toward a resolution.
-ask for forgiveness. These words are truly humbling and powerful. By asking for forgiveness, it shows that you are choosing to start again with different behaviors. It encourages trust.
-do what you say. Trust grows when you demonstrate the changes in your actions and behaviors that will benefit the relationship.
When NOT to say "I'm sorry"
-when you don't mean it anyway and you're just trying to "move things along".
-not every conflict requires an apology- just be sensitive to times when you know you have crossed the line. You'll know. You'll feel it. And if you don't, the silence will usually let you know.
-if you're just going to deflect it. (When you actually turn the offense back on your partner- guilt) "I'm sorry if you think...." or "I wouldn't have ____ if you hadn't ___" "It's not my fault if you took it that way..."
-if you're just going to take your partner down with you. "I'm sorry, but remember that time when you did ___ to me?"
-and worst of all, if you're just going to repeat the same offense time and again.
Sometimes it may take a few hours or maybe even a few days before the emotions settle down and you can discuss the offense with your partner. Take that breath. Don't storm off or slam doors, just let them know you need a break. This is not the opportunity to hope they "forget about it". If you want to make things right, you're eventually going to have to address it. Just do it, and get back to loving.
Sometimes it may take a while to be forgiven. And that is their right. If you hurt some one and they need time to grieve, allow them that time. And when they do come to accept your apology, be gracious. Don't hold a grudge or get defensive, allow for reconciliation.
I hope this helps. Too many relationships are being slowly shifted a part because of the pride that blocks the apology. We all make mistakes. Take the responsibility to own up to yours. Make things right, make the changes and grow closer together.
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