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How to Support Growth and Transition in Your Relationship.

If you have a relationship with a partner that has lasted for years than I expect that you each have grown and changed over that time period. If you met in your 20’s and now you are in your 30’s or beyond than you each are different people in many ways. Relationships are not just two people coming together and that’s it, they are stories of transformation and change and in a healthy relationship you have allowed this to happen and supported each other in it. 

The goal is that each person in the relationship accommodates the growth of the other person. Your partner will change at a different rate and in a different way than you do. They don’t see the world in the same way as you do and they don’t have the same needs but the goal is not to make them like you but to learn from them and support them as they grow. Ask yourself these questions;

  • Do you have a unique and specific way of connecting with your partner and refreshing the relationship when you feel burned out or distant?
  • During the time of connection do you feel safe and supported in your thoughts and beliefs?
  • Do you feel like your partner values and accepts your growth and ideas?
  • Are your life dreams similar and compatible? Or if they are different do you feel supported in yours?
  • When you are working through a struggle do you feel like your partner listens and helps you gain understanding, facing it with you?

One way to support growth is to build into your relationship rituals and behaviors that allow for change to happen. If you are only living parallel lives, and not making the time to connect and share in each others growth then you will eventually grow apart. The rituals that you create in your lives together are important and will keep you connected. 

Possible rituals could be a weekly date night, a shared meal at home or a time before bed to relax and connect after your day. During these times the objective is to learn about each others thoughts and feelings, be supportive and non-judgmental and listening well. It is not a time to correct your partner or fix their problems for them but just a time to find out what is happening with them. This time allows you too gently try to find out what is stressing your partner or making them fearful. Creating a safe space to share their interior world. It is important not to let too much time pass between checking in. 

I encourage you to commit to a ritual that will create space for you both to grow and learn together. Seeking understanding of each others inner world and sharing the growth and transitions together that supports your relationship.

Written by Lisa Strong

If Your Partner Says There’s a Problem, What Should You Do?

If your partner comes to you with a problem or concern about the relationship, how do you respond? Maybe they are unhappy with you or something you are doing. Does it make you feel under pressure, defensive or frustrated. You can respond in many ways, some more productive than others. The typical fight, flight or freeze response can be seen in relationships but are not healthy choices. If your partner has a problem and wants to discuss it with you they would hope that you would listen to their concern and work with them to find a solution but that is not always the case.

The fight response results in anger, arguments and hurt feelings. This breaks down the emotional connection and the ability to be honest and vulnerable in the relationship. When your partner shares their concern they don’t want to then have to deal with you becoming angry and fighting with them. This only increases your stress level.

The flight response results in a feeling of abandonment. If when your partner shares their concern, you leave the room or slams the door and walks away tyou might feel safe because you have avoided the stress but they feel alone with their problem with no partner to stand with them and solve it together. 

The freeze response usually results in frustration. Again they share their concern which causes stress in you because you don’t want to hear that they are unhappy with you or something that you have done. You  may feel attacked and you don’t know how to respond so you just freeze or listen quietly, maybe even agreeing but in the long run nothing changes. There is not action taken. The problem remains which is frustrating.

There needs to be freedom and safety in your relationship to share a concern. One of the basic relationship needs is compassion which means that if your partner has a problem then you need to be concerned and want to help them. When they share their concern they want to know that you are listening, that you understand and that you are not being judgmental or dismissive. At his moment it is not about you, try to think of how they are feeling and how you can help. 

I know that this is not easy, your own insecurities surface, you want to defend your behavior but dismissing their concern and focusing on your own defense or stress level will not solve the problem. Try not to see it as a battle which involves you on one side and your partner on the other. Instead look at it as both of you on the same side, standing together to battle the thing that is causing the stress. You are united, working together to build a relationship that works for each of you. 

Communicating your concerns in a safe environment, listening to each other and avoiding the fight, flight or freeze response will build a healthy foundation for each of you. It takes practice and if you need help then give me a call at 562-260-4796. I would be happy to support you.

Written by Lisa Strong

Does You Relationship Feel Like a Competition?

Competition is the American way. Who is the best athlete, student, employee, or even friend? Who is the best? But when it comes to a marriage and relationship with the person you love it should no longer be about competition, in fact the two of you are supposed to be on the same team. You are partners, you are there to support and look after each other. Having each others back. So why does it feel like your partner has become the enemy or you are trying to win in an argument? 

When there is a conflict between the two of you the goal is not to win but to come to a solution that works for both of you. A win/win solution. If it is a win/loose solution then the person who looses ends up feeling resentful or used and after time these feelings will rise to the surface. If it is hard for you to compromise and your Moto is “My way or the highway” then this is a problem. In a healthy relationship you consider your partners views and feelings when you are making a decision. It’s not all about you. 

Trying to outshine you partner is another red flag in the relationship. If your partner does something that results in praise or a reward, the healthy response would be to be happy for them and to congratulate them but if you feel a need to upstage your spouse or minimize their accomplishment then this will result in bitterness. It is important to allow your spouse to take the limelight sometimes. Let them have their moment and hold your tongue or join in on the praise. As the spouse you should be their biggest cheerleader. 

Another red flag would be keeping score of who has done what for whom. Bringing up past hurts and mistakes is one way to remind your partner of their shortcomings and moving them down in the score column. In a disagreement this does not help move you on to a solution. You may want to be recognized for your contribution by pointing our all you have done, moving yourself up in the score column, but this sends a message of “I’m doing more than you”. Your goal should not be to make your contribution known instead it should be to focus on working together for a common good. 

It’s important to take notice if there is some competition going on in the marriage. Try to understand some of the underlying reasons for it. One reason someone pushes to be on top and win may be because they are actually insecure and may overcompensate by pushing to be on top. They are afraid to be vulnerable and show those insecurities. If you notice this in your spouse then talk to your spouse about what you are noticing and try to find ways to work together as a team rather than trying to step on one another to get ahead.

Written by Lisa Strong