It doesn’t matter how many souls I land up helping though, they all have the same commonality: everyone wants the other party to be the person that is in the wrong.
No one wants to take responsibility for being the person that is at fault – everything must be outside of them so that it can be fixed without their involvement or effort, so that their subjective view of them being perfect does not have to be threatened.
We all want to think of ourselves as perfect, but if you’re still alive you still have a way to go in terms of development. Richard Bach puts it beautifully:
‘Here’s the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.’
The issues listed below are those I most commonly run into with relationships across the board – not just romantic. Look at the issues honestly and acknowledge what is yours – it will help exponentially catapult your growth and the love you feel in your relationship.
1. You try to fit your partner into a mold
In our current contemporary society, it’s very difficult to not get caught up in the belief that your marriage and partner define a large part of your success.
This is especially true when you look at leading media countries like the United States, and the intense focus that is placed on marriage, fidelity and family values at all levels.
What this results in is us holding our partners up to some ridiculous levels of expectation sometimes, expecting them to be the main breadwinner and the perfect lover and a perfect parent and 100% supportive when internally we feel like a total wreck.
Accordingly, when your partner shows their humanity or fails to live up to your expectations in terms of behavior and characteristics, you’re quick to point out how they have changed because they aren’t meeting your expectations of how they should act.
The truth about this situation is that we are often so busy seeing the person through the filter of the expectations we wanted to see, that we never really saw who they were in the first place.
2. You aren’t compromising
Compromise is the glue that holds any relationship together.
When you have two or more people together in an environment you will quickly have dissent and mutiny if everything is only ever done according the whims of one.
Whether it’s biting your tongue about a small issue or giving up something that you want, compromise and flexibility can minimize the tension in even the most fiery of relationships, and it can do it quickly.
Most often though, people do not compromise because to do so would damage their ego and they would experience a loss of face. They would feel inferior to their partner and in our minds, feeling inferior somehow makes the other person superior to us. We can’t allow that obviously, so we don’t compromise.
3. You don’t consider your partner’s needs
Even if you’re only partially present in your relationship, and only listening with half an ear, chances are good you know exactly what your partner’s greatest need at this point this.
Whether or not we think we’re hiding it successfully, we’re all actually totally transparent and open with what we want through the things we keep talking about and the behaviors we keep engaging in.
If your partner is reaching for sex and you keep saying no then you are rejecting their needs. If they are asking for more time together or for you to work less, then you know exactly what it is they need. The only reason you’re not doing it is because it doesn’t serve you.
If you care so little about your partner that their most basic human needs of touch, bonding, love, intimacy and interaction don’t matter to you, then why are you in the relationship in the first place?
4. You’re an emotional hothead
Remember your mom always told you to think before you speak or act? This is why.
One of my favorite tools to introduce into fiery relationships is the 48-hour rule. Basically the rule states that if either of you ends the relationship, it’s not valid until you’ve come back and discussed it 48 hours later.
This rule works for a number of reasons, the first being that it gives you the space to come back and say, ‘I didn’t mean what I said’ – without losing face.
Secondly, if you’ve been through a break up before, you’ll know how much you change in the following 48 hours, and that you often realize that you didn’t want to break up at all. Your response happened in the moment and was spurred by your emotional reaction.
My favorite reason for this rule though, is that within a few cycles of it being implemented you usually reach the point where one of the parties says, ‘No! We’re not breaking up. It’s pointless anyway because we’ll just get back together. So we’ll sit and work it out now.’
The whole point of this exercise is to break the cycle of being an emotional hothead in your relationship. To start you thinking about what you’re doing and the consequences of the decisions you are making in the moment.
When you don’t have limits on what you can say and do in certain situations you land up saying and doing impulsive things that you regret afterwards. In fact, I’ve often seen that more damage is done in what people say and do to each other in the fighting after the event than was ever done by the contentious issue in the first place.
Simply putting a check on what you’re allowed to say and do within conflict situations can halve the problems in your relationship overnight.
5. You’re only focused on what’s in it for you
This manifests in so many ways it’s actually a little scary.
A typical example is the women who expect a man to wine, dine and carry them financially, and provide them with gifts and holidays and a lavish lifestyle, with little or no regard for the man’s quality of life.
Or the alcoholic or drug addict that will take the last bit of money and spend it on a fix instead of food. Or the ambitious, career-driven, workaholic who is the perfect husband when colleagues and friends are around, but doesn’t notice his wife at all the rest of the time.
Each and every one of these people is in the relationship or situation in moments only when it serves them and their personal needs, with little to no regard for the partner standing in front of them and whether or not they are benefiting from the situation.
6. You think ‘me’ instead of ‘we’
When you make decisions, do you even consider your partner and family?
When you walk into the store, do you think about buying for your partner or checking in on budget before you make your purchase?
When a relationship exists between two people, you have to think of it as an entity within itself. It has needs and desires and you have to think in terms of how best to serve it so that it continues to grow.
When you’re taking money out of a joint budget, you aren’t making that decision just for yourself, what you do impacts your entire family and everyone connected to that budget.
When your partner gets faced with a challenge or roadblock to overcome, running away because it’s easier is again thinking only about ‘me’. If you choose for ‘we’ in this situation, then you can choose to stay and honestly be supportive of what your partner is experiencing. You do this knowing that by working together you can reach a solution and that your love will help support each other through this time.
7. You don’t make time
Time is such a precious commodity in our world it seems. We’re always rushing, trying to make up time, make more time… but for what?
Do you remember when you first met your partner how you couldn’t wait for the day to end so you could just be in the same room together, as close as you could be physically: touching, kissing, sharing, laughing, making love? Like any friendship or relationship, you’re going to get out of this what you put in.
If you share time and get to know about each other’s lives and worlds then you will be closer. If you’re running yourself ragged on the treadmill of life and sailing past each other like ships in the night, then you will lose touch with each other and your bond of love.
You have to make time daily and make it a habit to turn to your partner and rely on them. Make at least an hour a day to just be with your partner – talk, share, unburden, laugh and love. Throw gratitude into the mix as well.
If you can’t spare an hour a day to be with the love of your life, then maybe it’s time to reconsider if you want to be in this relationship.
8. You aren’t having intimacy
While sex does fall under needs and making time, it also deserves a mention on its own.
One important thing that sex does for us is bond us through the sense of smell. And as anyone who has ever had to rip the Band-Aid in their sex life will know, you can forget how good sex feels and how good it is to be touched and wanted and bonded to your partner.
Sex reduces stress, bonds you chemically, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, and it’s the one thing that separates this relationship from all your others. In a way sex defines the very nature of your relationship. Once you’ve taken the sex out of your relationship, there is nothing that distinguishes it from the other relationships in your life.
If you want something to be and remain special and sacred, you are going to have to treat it as special and sacred every single day.
9. You’ve let money become an issue
Money really does make the world go around – it permeates into every area and aspect of our lives. Relationships are not immune to this onslaught.
One of the key ways that money holds power over us is the ego emotions, including shame, embarrassment, humiliation, doubt, fear, guilt and vulnerability. Because we’re feeling some or all of these emotions, we start overthinking and overanalyzing and we get caught up in our own heads.
Here we make the biggest mistake though, we don’t turn to our partner and share our fears and support each other, we begin to lash out from pain and fear. Sadly the person that feels this lashing of pain happens to be the nearest in proximity – our partner.
Money issues do not have to derail your relationship; in fact they can drive you closer together as you work on problems together, find solutions together, support each other and raise each other up above the anxiety and fear.
10. You speak different love languages
How many times have you heard someone say, ‘But why can’t they can’t they see how much I love them?’
So often, when we meet someone, we project our ways of being onto them because we see ourselves as so similar, and them as aligned to ourselves. So it stands to reason that they would express and receive love in the same way we do, doesn’t it? Wrong.
Each and every one of us has a unique way of expressing our love and of feeling loved in return. Many times that people aren’t feeling loved it turns out to be because they aren’t seeing the love that is aimed at them, not because it doesn’t exist.
Visit www.5lovelanguages.com to work out your and your partner’s love languages.