If there’s any relationship advice we’d give for couples in marriages of many years, it’s to have it as your intention to learn how to get closer, especially when you lose your connection.
Here are 2 ways to make your marriage closer that we invite you to experiment with in your relationship…
1. Learn how to calm yourself, especially when things get tough
In a perfect world, we’d all like to be calm all of the time but because of stressful thoughts and the way other people act that we think they shouldn’t, we sometimes lose it and we aren’t calm.
We’re not only talking about calming yourself when you’re visibly agitated but also when you look calm on the outside but you’re withdrawn and frozen or shaking on the inside.
Why learn to calm yourself?
Your reactions feed and escalate your conflict and anxiety and you end up saying and doing things you regret.
You try to apologize later but your spouse never quite forgets.
When you can’t control yourself, you try to control your spouse and that never works.
What happens when you get agitated?
How can you learn how to calm yourself? Here are a couple of suggestions…
*Come into awareness of what you do when you get agitated
*One of the best strategies to calm yourself is to challenge your stories
Have you noticed how the stories you tell yourself can either create calm inside you or make you agitated?
Become aware when you are telling yourself a story about what happened or didn’t happen that moves you away from what you want. When you do this, you also avoid “futurizing” or projecting into the future about how things may or may not be or focusing on what happened in the past.
Bring your mind into the present moment and focus on what’s truly happening right here, right now.
When we recognize and stop the constant stories of why someone is doing or saying something–and you don’t know, new life and a new sense of possibility flows in the relationship.
Simply say-“I don’t know” and be curious but not combative.
Come into the present moment-become aware of what’s happening right now. Challenge your stories.
What stories are you telling yourself that if you stopped would help you stay calm when you most need to?
2. Recognize your relationship dance and learn how to change the music when you’re out of step. Shift out of gridlock.
What we’ve discovered both in our marriage and in working with hundreds and hundreds of coaching clients is that EVERYONE who is in a relationship or married has a particular “dance” or “pattern” that goes on between the two of you that causes almost every one of your fights, upsets or disagreements.
This is the way it is for us and almost everyone. One of our coaching clients put it THIS way: “It’s almost like we’ve repeated the same fight and had the same argument every week of our marriage for the past 30 years.”
This is crazy, isn’t it? But this is what we do in our important relationships. We take a position and we fight and hold on to our desire to be “right,” almost at any cost.
What we found that is helpful is to become aware that you do have a “pattern” of upsets in your relationship and to really work to recognize this “dance” that goes on between you and your partner. Then shift out of the dance and out of gridlock if you get stuck.)
Everyone that’s in a relationship has habitual patterns–how you think, react, respond and it gets really interesting when your habits and patterns cause us to get “out of sync” with our partner.
These dynamics that get created when our wants, needs, desires and ways of looking at the world are what we call the relationship dance.
Once you recognize your particular relationship dance, you then experiment with ways to shift it. If you don’t, it’s relationship gridlock-where the same pattern comes up over and over–both people know they’re right-and nothing gets resolved.
You are worth more than to spend your time hurting someone else with these behaviors or possibly getting hurt by the other person.
Getting stuck in any of these and feeling disconnected for days is not what we are willing to do anymore.
We made a conscious commitment to stop when we’re in one of our relationship dances, bring ourselves into remembering our agreements to listen, to be best friends, to take responsibility for the situation.
What about you?
Ask yourself these questions:
“What is it that I’m thinking and believing about my partner and does that bring me closer to or push him or her further away?”
“When do I do any of these behaviors and what steps can I take to quit doing them, and open to creating what I want?”
We invite you to take the responsibility to begin creating something better for yourself.