As a psychologist writing romance, I think about love a lot. As a woman in a ten-year relationship (my second marriage) in which we have a child, I am very invested in making it work. As a person nearing fifty, I am learning about how self-respect and self-kindness make my life zing. Every day.
Recently life called on me to look at my own behaviour in a relationship. I was falling into “the blame game”, which is so easy to do when you have good reason to! It can become a rut though. A resentment track in your mind. A demand that the Other change, shape up, improve (“in order for me to be happy”).
What about being the change you want to see?
Would you like it if your partner demanded that you were different, better somehow? No, you’d hate it. We all want acceptance and unconditional positive regard (also known as love).
And people hate being controlled.
Instead, empower yourself to take action. Here are some cool ideas I stumbled on in my research:
- Instead of demanding, inspire.
- Instead of pleasing and score-keeping, give.
- Instead of reacting defensively, align.
They say there are two magic words that can save a marriage: “You’re right”.
Focus on loving him as the man you know he is. See his pain and frustration. Build rapport instead of breaking him down. Trigger the best in him.
Give encouragement and support. No blaming, judging or criticising allowed (especially not of yourself! Banish guilt too; it’s a useless emotion.)
Before you know it, you will be relating to each other as your authentic selves again. Adjusting your attitude has a ripple effect. And living life in this kind of integrity is wonderful.