STOP TRYING TO FIX YOUR PARTNER’S FEELINGS, CONNECT WITH THEM INSTEAD
One of our deepest needs as humans is to feel understood, and true understanding is not possible without empathy. As psychologist Carl Rogers put it, “When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good!”
Think back to a time when you were listened to and really felt heard. How did it feel to be seen as you were?
The last letter in Dr. Gottman’s ATTUNE model is E and it stands for Empathy. Brené Brown describes empathy beautifully in this brief animated video.
Empathy is the willingness to feel with your partner. To understand their inner world.
“The trouble is if you don’t spend your life yourself, other people spend it for you.”
Think about that quote for a moment, and ask yourself: What does my happiness feel like?
In several of our recent emails and blog posts, we’ve invited you to join us in examining the relationship between happiness and hardship. Hardship feels easy to define—a season of financial struggle, a time of personal loss, a period of life marked by troubles—as the source of ongoing frustration in our lives. But happiness? What exactly is the emotion we call happiness and why do we crave it so badly?
When trying to define happiness, it’s tempting to adopt the “I’ll know it when I see it” mindset. I have no doubt that you will—but Marc and I challenge you to dig a bit deeper. Take just a moment to write down between two and three specific (and simple) actions you know make you feel happy.
Ever wondered why a relationship that was seemingly going smoothly then takes a bad turn?
The reasons why partners drift apart is no brain teaser at all as they differ in various relationships but there are some reasons that cut across most relationships. The drifting apart might take some time to unfold but what is important is to tackle the issues before it is too late.
Here are the five most common reasons couples drift apart and what you can do to avoid or, as the case may be, correct these issues in your own relationship.
You were made for someone to study you. To read you. To reflect on you. You were made for someone to be attuned to you.
Attunement is the desire and willingness for someone to travel into your inner world to explore who you are and who you are becoming. In a securely attached relationship, this connection cultivates trust that allows your heart to rest.
To truly love another, we must read them well. I’m not talking about the kind of reading where you skim to the parts of a book you think might be interesting, but the kind of reading that engages you in such a way that you are captivated by the story.
There is probably nothing more devastating to a relationship than an affair, no matter how big or small.
We understand your pain
The contract two people had between them that was supposed to be unbreakable and impermeable has been broken. The betrayed partner finds themselves wondering about who is this person I am with and have the past years all been a lie.You do not have to go through this alone or without tools to repair the unfathomable damage. We gently support and guide both parties through this and help them understand the context of the affair. We do not minimize the damage but we do believe there is a way to navigate through it and rebuild trust and faithfulness again.
I was recently visiting with a friend and she shared a story about a blowout fight she had with her husband. Being a therapist, I’ve grown used to this over the years.
The story went like this. Someone accidentally moved her chair as she was going to sit down at work, causing her to fall and hit her neck against a desk. As a result, her range of motion was limited and it was very painful for her to turn her head.
After her fall, she and her husband had been driving on the freeway and as he was trying to make a last-second lane change, he asked her to check out the passenger side window for cars. She said she felt disregarded because he knew she was in pain, and his request only made it worse.
Everyone experiences an unhappy mood on occasion, but there is a big difference between experiencing a temporary bout of unhappiness and living a habitually unhappy life. That’s what chronically unhappy people do. And although many of these people are afraid to admit it, a vast majority of their unhappiness stems from their own beliefs and behaviors.
Over the past decade, Marc and I have helped hundreds of unhappy people rediscover their smiles and, in the process, we’ve learned a lot about the negative beliefs and behaviors that typically hold them back. Even if you are generally a happy person, take a look at the short list below. Many of the unhappy people we’ve worked with via our course and coaching initially refused to admit that they carried these beliefs and behaviors, even when the evidence stacked against them was undeniable. See if any of these points are keeping you from experiencing greater amounts of joy.
1. They struggle with self-respect. – Decide this minute to never again beg anyone for the love, respect, and attention that you should be showing yourself. Be a friend to yoruself. Trust your inner spirit and follow your instincts. Accept who you are completely, the good and the bad, and make changes in your life as YOU see fit—not because you think anyone else wants you to be different, but because you know it’s the right thing to do, for YOU. Be the person you will be happy to live with for the duration of your life. Don’t rely on your significant other, or anyone else, for your happiness and self-worth. Know that our first and last love is always self-love, and that if you can’t love and respect yourself, no one else will be able to either. (covered in the “Self-Love” chapter of our NEW book)
My husband was seriously injured at work in August 2002. He was unable to work for about six months. Much of his income is from overtime and his disability pay did not equal even 25 percent of the income we count on. We have five children and this was a massive loss of income for our family. It became necessary for me to work a second full-time job.
Most days I went to my teaching job at 7:00 a.m., went to my second job as a cashier at a local retail store at 4:00 p.m., and dragged myself home around midnight, knowing I had to do the same thing the next day. I still had to do lesson planning and somehow squeeze in family time. I worked seven days a week, and was rarely home. My youngest child, seven years old at the time, missed me so much that he started carrying a picture of me to school in his pocket.
Until then, I’d been very active in my church. But I became too busy for most of my church life and missed many meetings. Word spread about our situation, and I received many calls with words of encouragement and emotional support from fellow church members.
WIN RELATIONSHIP CONFLICT BY LETTING YOUR PARTNER WIN TOO
Good relationships are built on the belief of what’s good for you is good for me too. Partners realize that the best bet is to work together, rather than against each other.
Meet Jordan and Taylor, a couple in their mid-forties.
They’ve been having issues with housework. Jordan is exhausted from nagging Taylor about leaving dirty clothes on the floor and not vacuuming the house. Jordan feels Taylor doesn’t listen, and feels that Taylor’s unwillingness demonstrates a lack of caring. Taylor, on the other hand, feels that Jordan is demanding and unloving. If Jordan truly cared, Taylor would get some slack on when the housework gets done.