Where do we go from here? Three secrets to relationships that last
If you’ve been doing life with someone for a long time, it’s likely you’ve asked or been asked this question – Where do we go from here? You know the story. It seems that every encounter ends in a disagreement and the tension hangs thick in the air more times than not. You’re at a loss for what to do but you know you stand at a crossroads. A kind of emotional numbness replaces uncontrollable sobbing and explosive anger. A realization that you are in over your head brings a calm resolve to chart a new course – a decision to take action. Do you cut your losses or do you do something totally new and radically different? These thoughts – and feelings – resonate in the hearts of many couples across the world. But I want you to ask yourself this extremely important question.
Have you ever considered that these thoughts and these feelings are the voice and springboard of opportunity?
Yes, opportunity. An opportunity to tell the story of your relationship in a new way. For both of you to stop blaming each other and start taking responsibility for where you are and how you got there. An opportunity to shake things up and to take a risk to do something totally and radically different – together. To dare to look for the good in each other and in yourself, and to be mature enough to truly express gratitude and self-love when you find something to brag about. An opportunity to invest in a Guide to take you to new places within yourself and in your relationship that you haven’t given yourself permission to dream could exist for a long time.
Sound scary? Of course. Sound impossible? Impossible? – No. Difficult? – Yes. It will be hard. It will require you both to dig deep – very, very deep – within yourself first. And then into the heart of each other. Will there be pain? Yes. But aren’t you in pain now? Is it worth the risk? It could be. Will you grow and know more than you know now? It’s possible. Is your future worth it? Absolutely. What are the odds you’ll succeed? Here’s what we know.
People whose relationships are satisfying over time seem to have a certain life perspective that is deeply a part of who they are. It’s not so much what they do as how they view life and the people around them. This belief about themselves and others is consistently present in intimate relationships, in families, in office settings and in friendships. It’s inspiring when you see it and it’s peaceful when you adopt it as your own. These are 3 components of this perspective that research shows sets people up to succeed in their relationships with themselves and with others. The A-B-Cs of relationship success are the 3 best kept secrets and can change everything.
It’s not so much what they do as how they view life and the people around them.
Appreciation – When couples feel valued, appreciated, and celebrated they tend to stay optimistic that their marriage will last, according to Tim Futris at University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences. The key is to speak it out loud and acknowledge your spouse’s contribution to your well-being. Even if you fight more than you’d like, tell the whole story and appreciate the good.
Bring your best to the table – How well are you caring for yourself? Yes, you are a part of a couple, but you were a whole person first! Have some personal goals to grow and “get better”. Do you have new interests and goals that make you fun to know? If not, then get some! Take responsibility for where you are stuck and are – okay -boring! – and find out how to move forward with your life. Art Arons, psychology professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and his wife, Elaine Aron, specialize in relationships that stay the course. They tell us that avoiding the boredom trap can keep your relationship vibrant and strong. It can even “reignite passion” by associating the new things you are experiencing with the relationship forming a new bond.
Compassionate Commitment – There is a point in happy relationships where partners agree to accept the differences. Drs. John and Julie Gottman call these never-ending stalemates Gridlock. You can stay stuck in it and argue for your way or you can commit to accepting the differences with compassion and work together to find the humor in the headaches. Lighten up and live lighter!
So, which road will you take? Seize the opportunity. Try the New Way. Who knows where the road may lead!
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Dianne Presley, LCSW, BC-TMH
Believe, Hope, Inspire Wellness Services LLC
Anxiety, Depression, Loss and Relationship Therapy
Gottman Level 1 and Level 2 Training in Couples Method Therapist
Gottman Training in Traumas and Affairs and in Couples in Addiction
Gottman Educator in 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work and Bringing Baby Home
Certified Brain Based Success Coach