How To Have A More Fulfilling And Dynamic Relationship
Two weeks ago, I published an article titled Seven Reasons Why Relationship Feels So Hard Sometimes. I discussed the fact that while one of our most essential needs is to love and be loved, we often feel confused and perplexed about how to cultivate a fulfilling, lasting intimate relationship. It is very common to feel challenged, uncomfortable, and even pained within the dynamics of our relationships. In this article, I will discuss what we can do to help address these seven areas of difficulty. While these points might seem simple, there is a tremendous amount of depth to be understood, explored, and integrated in the process of applying these principles into your life and relationship. This is part one of a three part series.
1. Develop a model or vision for your relationship
As I mentioned in my previous article, when we do not have a good road map or vision for our relationship, it can be all too easy to get lost in tradition, expectations, assumptions, habit, and convention.
@ Nadine Heidrich | Flcikr
This can be a huge issue, especially when what you want does not match tradition or convention.
Creating a vision or model for your relationship works best when you take time to get clear individually and then co-create a vision for the relationship with your partner that includes both of your desires.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to start the conversation:
- If your relationship is good, what would make it great (or even better relationship)?
- What do you long for or desire in relationship?
- If you were extremely fulfilled, happy, and satisfied in relationship, what would your relationship look like?
- What would you be like in a truly wonderful relationship?
- What kinds of things would you and your partner do together?
- How would you deal with challenges as a couple?
If you don’t have a clue of what you want, get curious. See what you are attracted to in others. Also, take note of any time you may feel envious or jealous of another person and their relationship. You can use this as information. What did you observe that you wish you had? Can you use this information as inspiration and incorporate it into your vision?
Another idea is to look for models to learn from. Relationship models can be people you
@ Leland Francisco | Flickr
know or people you don’t know. You can also take qualities and traits from different relationships. It can be like creating a recipe…a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Essentially, you are custom designing what you want in relationship.
Creating a vision will help you know where you want to go. Knowing where you want to go and what you want helps you have direction. Ultimately, knowing where you want to go will help you get where you want to be. You will likely take an active role in working towards your goals with your partner. And you will be on a path to co-creating a relationship that you are your partner are extremely happy and fulfilled with.
Learning what love means to you will be helpful in creating your vision with your partner. Here are a few questions for you to ask yourself and for your partner to do the same:
Learning about the process and development of an intimate relationship will be another important component. Most of us do not know what to expect within a long-term relationship or marriage. Knowing the developmental stages in a relationship can be helpful, so that you know what to expect especially during times of challenge. You will be more likely to understand that some of the distress is normal and natural, rather than thinking something is wrong with you, your partner, or the relationship.
It is natural to experience ebbs and flows in life and relationship. Some moments will be wonderful and others not so much. It reminds me of the little graphic about what success looks like (see picture). Adopting a growth orientation will help you tolerate challenges and set-backs more easily and you will have a better framework for understanding the value of a relationship difficulties. Despite the discomfort, you will be able to look for opportunities and learnings even within a very trying situation.
2. Increasing your ability to deal with differences and conflict in your relationship
As I mentioned in Seven Reasons Why Relationship Feels So Hard Sometimes, relationship dynamics are complex when you have two different individuals. There are going to be times when you will have vastly different perspectives or interpretations on things. Most often these differences will feel like a conflict and/or result in power struggles, disagreements, and threats to the relationship.
What if there was a better way to deal with the conflict? What if you viewed differences in your relationship as merely just a difference…not good, bad, right, or wrong. Would you treat the situation any differently?
A couple of months ago, I read this article by Fawn on her website Happy Wives Club. Not sure how I came across this website and article, but I thought her personal sharing was wonderful. I highly recommend reading the second half of her post. She talks about how most of us are taught to argue and guard our true feelings when in conflict. She shares how her and her husband, of 11 years, have had great success in their relationship and communication by remaining in a place of vulnerability and staying with their original emotion, when discussing an issue. She provided a great example of how important it is to deal with the underlying feelings and conflict, rather than getting caught up in reactions, assumptions, projections and fears.
Here are some tips for learning to address conflict constructively and effectively:
Learning about healthy and constructive models for dealing with conflict can be extremely valuable. Marshall Rosenberg wrote Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, where he offers a wonderful model to how to address conflictual topics with your partner. It was published several years ago. However, he has quite the following. You may even be able to find a NVC Meetup group in your area to gain skill and practice.
@ Garry Knight | Flickr
Another strategy that I teach couples about is working towards a win-win solution. Most couples try to get to a compromise or solution before really going through the steps to really understand what each person is feeling and needing. Prematurely trying to solve the issue will leave you spinning and going back and forth because you are not really dealing with what is most important. You will not know what is most important if you do not take the time to understand and explore. In my sessions with clients, I talk about the importance of “unpacking” the conflict, which is discussed in the Step-By-Step Guide To Turn Any Argument Into Effective Communication. Taking time to really understand what each person is feeling and experiencing gives a good foundation to work from.
If you are having difficulty understanding what your underlying need is, ask yourself “what would ______ allow me to feel?” Usually, we get attached to an idea, but do not know why we want it so badly. Most often, if we clarify the underlying need, then we can see that there are many ways to get that need met, not just the one you had in mind. There may be many forms that will offer you the experience of what you are wanting or needing.
When you and your partner are clear on your underlying need, then you can look at the situation differently, more creatively. The question becomes what solutions can we generate that meet both of our needs? This gets you and your partner working together towards a common goal. When you can come up with a solution that you can both feel good about, it will feel extremely rewarding and well worth the effort of going through the process.
An important part of this process is allowing space for the full range of the human emotions within relationship, so that you and your partner do not restrict or limit your authentic experience. Speaking what is true, even if it is difficult. Yes, with tact and consideration, but not denying, hiding, or avoiding what is real.
@ Nattu | Flickr
There is a belief that a long-term, intimate relationship can transform us. Almost as if, relationships are designed to force us to confront difficult topics and circumstances to evolve and mature us, both individually and as a couple. With this, the goal is not about having zero challenges, it is about how we deal with them that determines our success in relationship.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
The next two articles will discuss the next five points from Seven Reasons Why Relationship Feels So Hard Sometimes, Thank you for taking the time to learn and contemplate new ways of relating to improve the quality of your relationship. Please Click Here to Subscribe, if you would like to be up-to-date on the latest posts.
What do you think about these suggestions? Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you. Thank you. ❤