Healing Your Relationship.
You may be thinking that your relationship with your spouse, significant other (SO), lover, potential lover, or special friend is too far gone. It’s not. The staying power of love is profound. If you love someone, then it’s never too late to express that. If you love someone, step up and do the scary thing. Face rejection. Face pain. Bare your soul and show them who you really are. A deep connection happens too rarely to bury it and deny it.
First a few words of wisdom from Dr. Phil (I know. I know. But it’s relevant.)
Dr. Phil: “There’s a 50/50 chance a marriage is going to work if both people are head over heels in love, passionate and willing to climb the mountain, swim the river and slay the dragon to get to each other. That’s with everybody crazy in love and running toward each other in that field that we see in the commercials. The problem you’ve got here is he’s running the other way in the field! So if it’s 50/50 when you’re running toward each other, what do you think it is when the other person is running out of the field and hiding in the woods?”
First thing to ask yourself is whether you are running toward your SO and intimacy or whether you are running away and/or hiding in the woods. If it’s the former, is your SO also running towards you, or do you feel like they’re running away/hiding? If it’s the latter, then stop, turn around, and head back toward your SO. Or don’t. But it is up to you to heal your relationship. No one else can, especially if you have either been the one running away or *perceived* by your beloved as running away.
As I mentioned in a previous post, you can use your fears to get closer to your SO. Everyone has fears, and the most basic fear for anyone in a loving relationship, whether that is a marriage or just a special friend with whom you feel that indescribable connection, is abandonment. We are all afraid of being left, the horrible feeling of being tossed to the side as if one never mattered. This is the fear that must be quelled again and again. In a broken relationship, the smallest thing can feel like an abandonment, like silence for a few days or not returning phone calls or texts or just living around each other instead of really talking. When I’m feeling particularly vulnerable and hormonal, something as silly as my husband falling asleep while we’re watching a movie can stir up fears of abandonment, and this is after 12 years. Now I am quite confident my husband would not truly abandon me, as we are quite close; but fears are not rational. They are very irrational, but they are also very real to the person that has them.
I know my intense fear of abandonment is irrational. It’s embarrassing, really; but it doesn’t change the fact that it is my greatest fear. It doesn’t change the panic that arises when that is triggered.
Discover your SO’s deepest fears and share yours with them as well. This will create a deep bond of trust between you. Baring your soul to your beloved(s) is the most powerful way to create intimacy. You are showing them that you trust them not to mock you or laugh at you or think your fears are silly, because they are not silly. They are very real. There is no such thing as “it’s all in your head,” because to the one feeling those fears, that is their reality. When you embark on a romantic relationship, you take partial responsibility for your beloved’s heart. Don’t take that responsibility lightly.
CREATE A SAFE SPACE
You must create a space in which you and your SO feel safe to talk with each other without judgment. Your SO might hold their feelings inside because of their fears. This is a recipe for disaster. Feelings bottled up and pushed down fester there. The ultimate result of this practice is to wake up one morning next to a stranger or to hear the dreaded words “I’m leaving. This is over, and it has been over for me for a long time.” It sounds like it comes from nowhere, out of the blue; but it doesn’t. It has built up over weeks, months, or even years.
Work at creating that safe space in which you and your SO can talk openly…
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
You must talk and talk and talk with your SO. It can never be too much, although that can also bring up insecurities and feelings of being “needy.” If your SO is showing signs of neediness, then it’s because they feel you pulling away and they are trying to hold on. You may not think you are pulling away, but they do. This is what’s important. Find the root of their fears and what you can do about it. It’s normally a very small daily loving gesture that will help them feel more secure until trust can be built or rebuilt. Remember, a lapse in that daily gesture, even for a few days, can bring up those fears all over again. Isn’t a few moments a day worth saving your special relationship?
Learn how to not only say what you feel but ensure that your beloved heard what you really said and what you really meant. We all have emotional triggers stemming back from childhood. We all have insecurities, especially when it comes to romance because we feel particularly vulnerable in these situations. You may say “I need some time to think,” and you may mean you need a few hours to clear your head, but your SO might hear “I’m trying to get away from you.” Those aren’t the words you said, but those are the words they heard.
Take extra care to ensure that what you said is actually what they heard. The same goes for you. If your SO says something that activates an emotional trigger, and you will know because it will hurt or make your angry or some other strong emotion, then say that. “When you said _____, I heard _____. Is this what you meant?”
Allow them to clarify. And then you clarify what you’re feeling/thinking as well. Leave anger out of it. This is a loving, safe space, and anger has no place here. If you or your SO feels angry, remember that anger is a reaction of fear. Find that fear and soothe it.
As you’re rebuilding a relationship, take the time to say things in great detail. Don’t assume they can read your mind. They can’t. Even if you’ve been together for years or decades, your SO cannot read your mind. Say what you mean. Mean what you say, then act in a manner that backs up your words.
For example, say instead: “I need a few hours to clear my head and get my thoughts straight, but then I will come back and we can talk some more. I love you, and I will come back.”
Then do that, which brings us to…
Trust is likely the most important part of any relationship. Building trust is quite simple, really. We are all familiar with the old cliche “Actions speak louder than words,” and that is true; however, words have their own power and are very important as well.
The way to build trust is to say you’re going to do something and then do it. Over and over again. If you have lost trust in your relationship, it might take awhile to regain it, especially if you have the ability to say pretty things and then not do them. You must do them. This is the key.
Set a reminder on your phone if you are absentminded or busy. Just be true to your word. This is the greatest indication of integrity. Say what you mean/feel. Do what you say.
Let us remember the Four Agreements*:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Always do your best
- Don’t make assumptions
- Don’t take anything personally
No matter how bad you think it is in your broken relationship, it’s not too late. The staying power of love is profound. Never underestimate the strength of a small, loving gesture. Pick up the phone. Send a text. Apologize. Apologize again. Take your lover into your arms, if not physically then metaphorically. Open up. Share your fears. Tell them how you feel.
Reach out today. You will be so glad you did.
Love is too precious to just let it fade away.
*Ruiz, Don Miguel. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book. San Rafael: Amber-Allen Publishing, 2001.
This book has helped me in the past, and I’m going to read it again starting today along with its companion book:
Ruiz, Don Miguel. The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship, A Toltec Wisdom Book. San Rafael: Amber-Allen Publishing, 1999.
Read my other articles on romance and relationships: