5 Ways To Keep Your Eyes On Your Relationship Road
Picture this: You’re watching a TV show ….
The main character is driving a car and talking with a passenger. Pretty soon, the talker just turns to the passenger and talks.
As the conversation deepens or intensifies, the driver-talker looks away from the road a looooong time. So long that even though you know it’s fake — there is no road, there is no real driving going on — your mind begins to say “goooo baaaaaack, loooooooooook aaaaat the rooooooooad…”
It’s silly, it’s just a TV show, but if anybody in real life ignored the road that long while talking and driving, it wouldn’t be good.
Recently, I was talking to a woman who said she had started therapy with her husband, and they were doing well in this exploration. She was pleased with their progress.
She also said that she wished she hadn’t ignored the condition of her relationship for so long.
In other words, she wished she hadn’t looked away from the (relationship) road quite so long. Their relationship had been off road for a long time, and she and her husband were clearly driving alone, in separate cars, in entirely different directions.
Here’s a simple set of five do-able ideas for keeping your eyes on the relationship road — knowing where you’re going and paying attention to signs along the way.
1. Give your problems to the relationship, not to each other.
The two of you together are smarter than either one of you. Your intelligence as a relationship is exponential. Use it. If you truly want to be happy and see your partner happy, then partnership brainstorm sessions are in order.
Present your wish at an agreed upon time and place, describing it as best you can. Talk about your wish, your need, your desire only when the two of you can pay full attention. Don’t do this on the fly.
Let your partner ask any questions for clarity, and then leave the subject alone. Walk away from it. Don’t figure it out right then. It is OK to brainstorm a little, but especially if it is a “big chunk” type thing, give it some time to simmer.
The listener’s job is to listen as if s/he is not part of the problem. Listen like a friend. Listen with curiosity, not judgment. If the listener can’t be neutral, the listener has to say so, and simply try again another time. It’s OK. Sometimes, you have to hand the relationship a big ol’ problem and it is difficult to find ears to hear it right away.
A week later, a couple of days later — whatever — check in with each other and see if a solution has emerged from either of you, or from either of your environments. Maybe you had a discussion with a friend, or picked up a book. You somehow opened the book to the page that gave you an idea which lead to a solution. Answers can come from surprising places.
This is a quick synopsis of the process, and I’ll cover more details in another blog.
2. Plan things that don’t happen unless you plan them. This includes vacations, leisure time, and dates with each other. Go on regular dates together. Plan for them. It’s important. The relationship road has markers that you can look forward to, but only if you have to put up a sign to remind you to turn left here and go on a Safari. Or follow this yellow brick road and go to the movies this Saturday night or take a Sunday afternoon drive to a beautiful place.
3. Make sure you both have plenty of friends besides each other. I heard from one of my clients: “He’s got no friends, so when I’m not around, he’s lonely. He’s questioning me… where am I and what am I doing.” Or “I feel pressure to be at home because my wife doesn’t work, and she wants to be with me when I’m home from work. I have quite a few other activities and friends, and I like variety. It’s causing a problem in our relationship.”
If you’ve just got each other, you’ll probably, I don’t know — implode! You’ll be like the 12 story building on the 6 o’clock news with the video showing how the building fell down perfectly into itself in, say, 15 seconds.
One of the ways to take care of the relationship is to not expect everything from the relationship. Don’t make your relationship all-purpose. Have other interests, other friends. Talk to other people. Then bring who and what you are in those other situations back to the relationship so that your relationship can thrive.
4. Make a decent effort to look nice and smell nice. Not 100% of the time (nobody needs that kind of pressure), but pay attention to the relationship road here. And really, it’s not that hard, and at least one of you will appreciate it.
Dress up once in a while for each other. Get creative. Surprise each other.
5. Thank each other more than you think you might need to. Thank each other for big stuff, little stuff and everything in between. Taking each other for granted is the beginning of the end. You’ll drive off the road and you might not even know you did.
I mentioned a couple of blogs ago about creating a “pillow book” containing thank you’s to each other.
Appreciation is fuel. Appreciation is fun. Appreciation is uplifting and joy-producing. It’s good for you, and your heart and your hormones. It’s good for everybody. Appreciate generously and often.
Appreciation keeps the two of you looking each other straight in the eyes and connecting with each other, loving each other, and knowing that everything’s gonna be OK.
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In Care of Relationships with Terri Crosby– Tools For Creating Positive Momentum. https://incareofrelationships.com
Terri Crosby is a relationship mentor. She helps you create life-affirming, ever-evolving, happier relationships with those you love. She offers change-of-heart, change-of-mind perspectives to create great relationships. If you are ready to take your relationship to the next level, you can sign up to be on the mailing list HERE. To subscribe to her blog, go HERE.
In Care of Relationships, intimacy, maintaining a good relationship, relationship maintenance, relationship problems, relationships, Terri Crosby