We’re often asked for relationship advice from couples who want to save their marriage but don’t know how.
Here’s a big secret we’ve discovered…
Make the commitment to not run away and hide when things get tough.
One of the things we learned very early in our marriage was that we each had a tendency in our previous relationships to shut down emotionally and even physically run away when things got tough.
Because we recognized that this pattern can create big problems in relationships, we made the commitment to each other that we would not make the same mistake in our relationship.
We committed that we would stay present with each other and not run away, either emotionally or physically. Sounds like a great commitment but we’ve discovered that it can be a challenge to keep.
What we are sure of is that this principle of not running away has made our relationship stronger, increased trust between us and has helped to create the close, connected feeling that we have with each other.
What does it take to not run away and hide when things get tough?
Here are some tips to help you and your spouse if you choose to make this commitment to each other:
1. Find out what your patterns are when there’s conflict between the two of you or conflict with someone else.
What do you immediately do?
- Lash out in anger?
- Put up walls between you and the other person and pull all of your energy inside yourself?
- Leave the room?
What does your partner do when this happens?
2. If you decide that you don’t want to create these harmful patterns anymore, decide how you would like to act in those situations.
Change can take time and it usually means taking “baby steps” in moving toward the behavior you want so be patient with yourself.
It’s important that you focus on you and your patterns rather than what your partner is doing. Always start with yourself and if you keep pointing your finger outward toward your partner, just know that you will probably stay stuck in the same “dance” that you’ve been in. We urge you to commit to changing “you.”
3. Ask for help if you find that you unconsciously go into your patterns.
This may be help from your partner who can lovingly point them out to you (only if you agree how you’d like him/her to do this).
It may also be that you need support from a coach, therapist or even a friend. If you choose a friend, choose someone who can lovingly tell you the truth about your actions and not someone who will either be critical of you or sugar coat the truth.
If you want a great relationship, learning how to stay present and talk and listen is just about the most important skill you can learn.