I have found that most relationship issues can be boiled down to taking personal responsibility and setting effective boundaries… This includes showing-up to our interactions appropriately by being intentional, mindful and compassionate. It doesn’t do anybody any good to show-up by ramming ourselves down others’ throats… That’s not actually showing-up… This is disrespectful and a boundary injury…
What is showing-up? Showing-up means we share our internal experiences, our dreams, our feelings, our preferences, our skills, our gifts for the good of all involved. Not just for our benefit… We don’t do this at the expense of others… We do this to create mutuality, to learn each other, to connect, to serve each other, to create a stronger partnership. In partnership we are more than the parts…
But it takes skill and a certain finesse to do this well. A lot of times partners don’t feel heard, understood, seen, valued, appreciated and therefore are on a rampage to be seen – however they do that. This can look like actively pursuing the other for these things, or like withdrawing for self-preservation, out of resentment, and for power struggling. The partners usually polarize in their approach where one becomes aggressive or overzealous and the other becomes passive-aggressive or paralyzed / stupefied / inactive…
It is the overzealous person that usually seems to struggle the most in the relationship. They are the ones that are doing the feeling for both partners… They are the expressive ones, the ones not satisfied, complaining, criticizing, and overtly reacting. They don’t realize that their approach makes their partner withdraw even further and become more stupefied. This leaves them more alone and abandoned maintaining this painful cycle. The challenge here is to self-soothe and self-regulate, implement a self-care practice, and learn containing skills. Containing skills means knowing when and how to approach the partner to increase the chances of being heard and getting needs met. Throwing-up on the partner, beating them up, and demanding for needs to be met usually don’t go over well…
It is the inactive person that usually seems unfazed and uncaring in the relationship. This is simply not true. They are fazed and affected in different ways, and at times they are not even aware of it… Their reactivity is passive-aggressive. Because their needs are different and they express themselves differently it doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings or don’t care. They do have a tendency to come across as narcissistic, making it a challenging to see behind this. They even believe their own indifference sometimes… The challenge here is to get past all these defenses (that are often in the form of a lot of logic…), to own vulnerability, and to take a risk being available… Being available means not only making the physical time to spend together, but being able to take the partner in (to be attuned), to get them and to have compassion for them.
It is our responsibility to show-up appropriately to our interactions, being mindful of how we impact our partner, and to represent ourselves in a way that honors us and gets our needs met. If we are not getting a desired response, we have to identify what we are doing that’s inviting what we don’t want. How are we co-creating the interaction with our partner that is not serving us? Pay attention to your particular flavor of how you do this, and start stretching and tweaking how you show-up to be more mindful of your impact. Upgrade what you contribute so you can both have a better experience!
> Boundary setting and getting needs met:
Let’s say your partner is always late. The best way to address this is not when they are late and you are annoyed, but to address this for going forward. So, knowing that your partner might be late coming home, meeting you, being ready to go somewhere, or in some other way decide which is the most frustrating and tackle it first. Address these individually, separately and specifically. Have conversations with your partner to put in place parameters around each late situation type to prevent relationship moments from going south.
Include: clearly established and agreed upon time to “get together”, courtesy agreed upon checking-in time to confirm still on the same page, how much notice to provide heads up of any changes, how to stay in touch if things change to regroup and come up with alternative solutions that work best for the person waiting, how much waiting time is reasonable, what happens after the waiting time lapsed, and how is the infraction amended (whether things were in the other person’s control or not, they still need to make amends if they are late – ranging from apologizing to making whole new plans to their partner’s preference). The parameters can be tweaked as needed beforehand for special circumstances.
Keep in mind each of your tendencies to be overzealous or inactive in your relationship and the underlying needs for each when setting up the parameters. The overzealous person has a tendency to feel abandoned, taken for granted, unimportant, not valued and not seen/heard. The inactive person tends to feel criticized, controlled, stifled, smothered, unappreciated and incompetent/not good enough. Keep these in mind when setting up the parameters so neither partner gets triggered by how the set up might play out.
No plan or set up is perfect. The key is to be as preventative as possible and remain intentional, mindful and compassionate when situations are not working out as expected. Always show-up with your best Self!
Complete the MetroRelationship™ Assignment below to help you effortlessly implement this, make changes and immediately start experiencing your awesome and radiant relationship, and authentic and meaningful life…
P.S. We are now providing monthly personal growth and relationship nurturing workshops! For details on our next Connection Workshop™ visit here!
~ Your MetroRelationship™ Assignment
Revisit the last exchange with your partner that went south, and identify how you did your usual… Recognize your flavor of distancing and pursuing in that particular scenario.
Break it down, deconstruct it to its smallest denominator catching even the smallest of infractions on your part. Find the questions, responses, exclamations, body language, etc. that gave your partner the usual impression of your pursuing or distancing.
Then, reconstruct the exchange by tweaking each infraction. Note, how the exchange could have changed course at anyone of these junctures giving you a different outcome… Bring this insight into the next exchange that can potentially go south, or as it is starting to go south.
Always be as intentional, mindful and compassionate as possible.
Add this to your Tool Kit…
~ Share Your Thoughts & Successes in the comment box at the end!
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Copyright (c) 2016 Emma K. Viglucci. All rights reserved.
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Emma K. Viglucci, LMFT is the Founder and Director of Metropolitan Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC, a private practice that specializes in working with couples, she is the creator of the MetroRelationship™ philosophy and a variety of Successful Couple™ content that assist couples succeed at their relationship and their life. Stay Connected™ with Emma and receive weekly Connection Notes in your inbox with Personal Growth and Relationship Enrichment insights and strategies, visit: www.metrorelationship.com.