This single decision can save you hours of silence & suffering in your relationship
Quick recap: in long-term relationships our partners will disappoint, hurt and misunderstand us. There will be a gap between the longed-for ideal lover we imagined and our real, human, imperfect partner. It is crucial that we learn to make room for these disappointments - even disillusionment - in order to restore connection and continue to evolve our possibilities in love.
Faced with disillusionment we have two choices –
Spiral down the path of control, revenge and resentful resignation – forgive yourself if you’ve traveled down this path too many times to count. We are wired to protest, angrily demand connection, retaliate and/or withdraw when we feel abandoned, helpless, ashamed, or hopeless.
Or, turn back toward our partner and repair so that connection can be restored – the difficult task of restoring connection in the face of relationship-pain brings with it renewed opportunities to know without a doubt that we are good-enough, we are lovable and loving, and that we can truly count on our partner and our relationship to be there for us (even in our darkest moments!)
This choice keeps showing up in our moment-by-moment interactions. The beauty of relationships is that like a daily practice – we need not be perfect. It is enough if we remember that it’s ok to make mistakes. It’s even ok to be reactive, to get angry, have a tantrum or withdraw. In fact, sometimes it’s absolutely necessary and most relationships can tolerate conflict. What does matter though, is that we consciously and deliberately make the powerful decision to respond differently by coming back to our partner and noticing they’re in pain too.
Next time you begin to notice the familiar feelings of disappointment, hopelessness and resentment bubble-up in your body, PAUSE. Take some deep, full breaths. Stop blaming and become curious about what got triggered for each of you that upset you both so deeply.
Trust that the biggest gift we can give ourselves & our mate is to take responsibility for our impact on our partner, while continuing to honor our own feelings. To see our partner with softer eyes and assume the best about their intentions.
Lastly, practice self-compassion if you’re not “there yet.” This isn’t a destination, rather a lifelong process. Even the most skilled people have days when this comes less easily or not at all. I’d love to hear what resonates with you, what you’d add or anything else you feel inspired to share about your own journey.