Chances are, you were taught basic skills such as reading, writing, and how to ride a bike. Yet how many of you were taught how to be in a love relationship and make it work?
It's quite amazing that in these sophisticated times people are not taught basic relationship skills. It's obviously needed because the divorce statistics are so high, not to mention all the single people out there looking for a mate. That is why I want to share some key factors with you.
These factors are:
1. Relationship is a path to growth and healing.
2. The art of listening.
3. The three A's - Acceptance, Acknowledgment, and Appreciation
4. The importance of sustaining your emotional bank account.
The first factor I'd like you to be aware of is that your relationship is a path to growth and healing. Did you know that unconsciously you attract someone to you who will embody both the positive and negative qualities of your parents or caretakers? This is because the path of a love relationship has an underlying purpose - which is the healing of childhood wounds. Just think of how many times a lover will trigger your core issues. For example, let's look at a couple who we will call Linda and Dave. Suppose Linda has childhood issues around abandonment. When she and her husband, Dave, get into an argument Dave has a tendency to get angry and walk out on her. This drives Linda crazy. Why? It unconsciously brings up her fear of abandonment. And Dave walks out because arguing makes him feel frustrated which in turn makes him feel like a failure.
Okay, that's interesting, you might think. But what does a person do about a situation like that? Well, that brings us to the next factor, which is the art of listening. You can train yourself to become aware of core issues by listening to what your emotions are trying to tell you. The following is an exercise from Dr. Christiane Northrup.
First pay attention to what you are sensing or feeling. Notice where in your body you are feeling the sensation and breathe into that area to release some of the tension there. Then describe the feeling and ask yourself these questions. "What event prompted this emotion? Do I have any self-judgments or shame around this? Does this remind me of anything from my childhood? And what need do I have that is not being met?" Take some time to record your insights in a journal.
Once you gain clarity about what you are experiencing it will help your communication with your partner. The two of you could also make an agreement to really listen to one another. And here's the tricky part - which is listening to what the other person has to say even if you do not agree with that person's point of view.
Another factor that helps is to communicate what I call the three A's to one another as often as possible. The three A's are acceptance, acknowledgment, and appreciation. For example, "I love you for who you are. Thank you for taking out the garbage. We're so lucky to be together."
Acceptance means letting go of the need to be perfect and honoring your humanness. So much of the time couples try to change one another. This comes out of an unconscious need to control life in order to feel safe. However, it is fear based and does not foster love.
Acknowledgment and appreciation are also important. Remember to sincerely acknowledge all the little things your partner does that bring you joy and support in your life. Which brings me to the last factor...what I call your emotional bank account.
We all know about financial bank accounts where we make monetary deposits and withdrawals. An emotional bank account represents the amount of trust that has built up in a relationship. This reserve of trust helps you feel safe with one another.
Examples of emotional bank deposits are kindness, honesty, courtesy, spending fun time alone together, as well as the three A's I have just mentioned.
Examples of withdrawals would be disrespect, dishonesty, cutting the other person off, and betrayal of trust.
The more you build a reserve of deposits, the higher the level of trust. When the level of trust is high, communication becomes easier and the bond between you becomes stronger. However, if your withdrawals far exceed your deposits, the relationship may eventually fall apart.
As you can see a relationship can not sustain itself. It needs to be nurtured by the people involved. I know. I have been in a relationship with my husband for over 20 years. We've had our good times and our not so good times. But our willingness to be there for each other, even through difficult times, has strengthened the bond between us. I share this with you so that you will know that it is possible to not only make a love relationship work but be deeply enriched by the experience as well.