Tis the season…
Oh no, not again! No wait….this time, it’s the season for LOVE! In fact, the next four posts will all focus on one pillar of wellness, the pillar of connection. If you want a recap on the other pillars, you can find them here. While this post focuses on our romantic relationships, these 3 components must be present for any of your relationships to thrive, whether it’s your relationship with your parents, your kids, your siblings, or your friends. The people you surround yourself with and come into contact with affect your entire well- being: financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically. Pay attention. There are many long-term relationships where we tell ourselves, that’s the way he is or that’s the way we are and we move through our days sort of waiting and thinking….what? What are we thinking? That we’ll wait it out ’til we die? Until the kids leave? Until the other person dies? That we don’t deserve any better? I hear you. Over my life, I have had several relationships that drained the life force out of me. I am here to show you there is a better way and this is where to start.
Today is an overview of the 3 necessary components of thriving relationships. There are other components that relationships can have but if these three aren’t all present, your relationship will be scraping by or described as “ho hum”. Sure, you can survive like that but my goal is for you to be living a life you love and that includes loving who you’re with. Start strengthening any of these three mandatory components and you will see a shift in your relationship.
Emotional Adult: This is perhaps the most important tool in healthy relationships. If you show up as an emotional adult in your relationship, there will be significantly less strife and drama in that relationship. What does “being an emotional adult” mean? It means it’s necessary to take responsibility for yourself, for how you feel, and for what makes you angry or upset. Being an adult means understanding that it’s not what happens in your life that makes you feel a certain way. It’s our thoughts about what happen that make us feel a certain way. It’s not that our husband brings us flowers, buys us a gorgeous piece of jewelry, or leaves us love notes that make us feel a certain way. It’s our THOUGHT about those things that makes us feel what we’re feeling. You are in charge of the thoughts you focus on and so you are in charge of how you feel. In the same way, it’s not that your husband leaves his dishes in the sink, his socks on the floor, and takes a while to return your texts that make you feel a certain way. It’s our THOUGHT about those things that makes us feel what we’re feeling. Being an emotional adult means you recognize that if it bothers you, it’s about you. Click To Tweet It’s not about the other person. When I am bugged by my partner (or anyone I’m in relation with), one of the first questions I ask myself is: “What are you making it mean?” This allows me to become a “watcher” of my mind. I get to step back and see which thought I’m thinking to feel the way I’m feeling. Am I telling myself that him leaving his socks on the floor means he doesn’t respect me? Am I telling him that he buying me flowers means he treasures me? It’s important for me to see that it’s the thought I’m thinking that leaves me feeling the way I’m feeling. If you want to dig deeper into this, I do in this past blog post. For now, please choose to bring attention to what you’re thinking and how it’s making you feel. You are an adult. You do not get to blame others for how you feel. Click To Tweet You feel the way you feel because of the thoughts you’re choosing to focus on. If you’ve been stuck playing the “blame game” for a while, this might be depressing to learn. I urge you to see the empowering ticket to life that this is. No one else can make you feel a certain way. It took me a while to learn but once I did, it freed and empowered me and, is the foundation on which my amazing, what-I-could-only-dream-of current relationship is.
1+1=3 In our society this is a tough one to grasp. Even marriage therapists will say: What do you need in your relationship? And then tell the husband to do those things, as if it’s his role in the relationship to take care of you. Nope. I can barely take care of myself, let alone another adult. In order to thrive in a relationship, your job is to take care of yourself and your needs. Your partner’s job is to take care of him and his needs. Your partner is not here to complete you. He is not here to take care of your needs. He’s not here to “make you” feel happy, sexy, adored, or valuable. That’s your job. You need to take care of your own needs so you’re not looking for him to fill you up. When I take care of myself and my needs, I come to my relationship as a complete woman and my partner’s only role is to be there so I can love him. He’s not responsible for making me happy. If he tells me I’m gorgeous and awesome, I can think the thought “how lucky I am to have such a supportive and amazing mate”. But I don’t need him to say these things. Why? Because I take care of me. I do the work on myself. Further, I am not here to make him feel a certain way. I am here to support and pour love on him. It’s not my job to make him feel a certain way about himself. Click To Tweet We are both emotional adults and recognize that we are in charge of our care and how we feel. This is why they say you can’t love anyone more than you love yourself. If I don’t think I’m sexy or gorgeous or awesome, I very well may ask him to tell me these things. The problem is, no matter how many times he tells me, if I don’t believe it myself, it won’t matter. When he takes care of himself and I take care of myself, we come together as a force greater than we both are independently. Think of your relationship as a team. The stronger you are and the stronger he is, the stronger the team is. Be able to stand on your own, knowing that he is there for you. You need to take care of yourself for the team. The better you care for yourself, of your 5 pillars of wellness, the better you’ll be for the team. It’s not your partner’s job to complete you. It’s yours. You do you and let him take care of him. When the two of you come together your light will shine far brighter than it would individually.
WORK AT IT Relationships take work. If we have the expectation that our life with our partner will be all rainbows and daisies, we are setting ourself up for disappointment in our current relationship (and all future ones as well). Think of your relationship like a car. You have to maintain the car. Fill it with gas. Replace it’s oil. Clean it. We maintain our car so that when we hit a rough road or snowy day, our car can weather the storm. Committed relationships are the same way. Couples in happy, committed relationships maintain their relationships. They have systems in place so that when they hit a rough patch, the health of their relationship is strong and can weather the storm. They go out on regular dates. They regularly compliment their partner. They make the effort to connect every single day. They recognize that there will be tough days and bumps in the road but they commit to love and care for their relationship. This means even if you have young kids. This means even if you have grumpy teenagers. Too often parents put the relationship with their kids above their relationship with their spouse. Please don’t. If you don’t maintain your marriage, when your kids leave (as they will), you’ll turn and think: “Who the hell is that?” 18 years is a long time to “just get by”. Instead, model the relationship you want your kids to have with your spouse. Show them the importance of the connection pillar of wellness. Stop what you’re doing when your mate comes home or leaves for the day. Hug. Kiss. Go out to dinner. Dress up. Take walks together. Touch. Look each other in the eye. Ask how their day was and….listen. And then hug and kiss some more.
Our relationships offer us an incredible playground for growth and expansion. Melissa Ambrosini
This is a great time of year to pause and evaluate what’s going on in your romantic relationship or, if you’re not in a relationship now, your relationship with yourself. Emotional adulthood is having the courage to step back from what is happening in your life to learn and to examine your role in it. Where are you bringing drama? Where are you expecting others to meet your needs? Aside from your relationship with yourself, it is the most important relationship in your life. If you don’t have a romantic relationship now, then this is a great opportunity to pour love on yourself and your own relationship. I spent years working on my relationship with myself before I was ready for the connection I have today. I don’t see this as a fault or negative but rather a gift to solidify my emotional intelligence. During this valentine’s season, remember that no one can make you feel a certain way: not your spouse, not a friend, and certainly not a bouquet of roses. You do you and your light and love will shine out and either attract a mate to you or ameliorate the relationship with the mate you already have.
Let’s love warriors.