We’ve been making our way through the 5 Elements of our Successful Couple Strategy™ to launch us into the New Year ready to create the best version of our relationship yet.
We are midway through, at Element3, of better implementing the Successful Couple Strategy™:
Element1 – Context & Mindset
Element2 – Communication & Alignment
Element3 – Clarity & Dynamics
Element4 – Connection & Intimacy
Element5 – Collaboration & Partnership
Today’s topic – The Same Thing Over and Over. Unless we make sure we don’t get stuck, that’s exactly what happens… When partners wing things in their relationship they will find themselves creating repeating patterns. That’s just the way of things. Even if they don’t necessarily “wing it”, but are not intentional, mindful, informed, and use Relationship Enrichment Skills this is still what happens…
What happens? What drives the repeating patterns? Why do partners get stuck here, no matter how smart they are? As I’ve said once or twice in session, this is not a logical problem to be solved with an intellectual conversation or approach, or as if it’s a riddle… No matter how much you kick it around in your head that’s not how you change this.
This happens because at some level we are looking to get what we haven’t gotten yet… It’s our unconscious mind at work, it’s a built-in mechanism to give us a second chance. A second chance at getting our needs met, at fully growing up, and at actually becoming who we are…
So even though it’s super frustrating to be stuck in repeating patterns, this is actually a Gift, a Blessing. This is an opportunity in disguise. This is a chance to give it another try! This happens FOR us not TO us.
This means our relationship is a gift, our Partner is a Gift… For in this context we have the perfect situation to do our work and have our human experience… It gives us the opportunity to practice, try again, and crack the code. How many situations in our life are as rich as this…?
Ok, so how do the frustrating things keep repeating against sometimes our bestest efforts and wishes? They repeat because is not the specific behavior or situation that is the issue or that needs to change, and that’s what the partners focus on…
- Like leaving the toilet seat up
- Like not getting up early to help with the children
- Like not doing the dishes
- Like always running late
- Like telling white lies
- Like leaving crumbs on the counter
- Like not responding to texts fast enough
- Like listening to the T.V. too loudly
- Like not immediately picking up after the dog went in the yard
- Like not buying groceries frequently enough
These are all real examples from couples I’m currently working with, and the list goes on and on. Any resonate for you? What is the thing that’s getting you?
Partners get stuck on items like this and what ensues when trying to address them… As you can see from the behaviors listed, the focus is on what the partner is doing or not doing! Right off the bat they are off in the wrong direction… The mere focus on these items as the partner being a perpetrator of some kind automatically affects one’s mood, state, experience and approach… And, it disempowers us…
The key with these and other similar focus items is to understand what they trigger for us… The trigger, the emotional response, is the hook… It’s not the behavior per se that’s so egregious, but what it does to us, how it makes us feel… As we are on the lookout to no longer get hurt in the same old way, to not feel that pain again, we are sensitive to any experience that might trigger it…
Some of the behaviors listed above wouldn’t bother someone else to the same extent if at all… Partners are not usually aware of the trigger, or get so triggered that they can’t help themselves, so they just get hang-up on the particular behavior for its own sake…
Partners then focus on correcting the infraction and getting their way. When faced with certain behaviors, we assign some negative meaning to them that triggers us. This by the way, happens at lightning speed where most of the time we are not even aware of our process…
And, then we react to the trigger, triggering our partner, who reacts to their trigger, triggering us some more. Fun times! LOL Thus, we go around and around, we create a repeating loop, we get stuck in a Power Struggle where both partners are focused on getting their way (getting their needs met and relieving their pain)… They end up creating repeating patterns, stuck dynamics. This creates stuckness in the relationship…
Changing the focus from our partner’s behavior in trying to take care of ourselves to caring of how we feel and what got triggered is how we shift the stuckness, change the dynamics and the patterns. When we change to this approach, we heal… When we stretch to meet our needs appropriately, and our partner’s when addressing their concerns, we grow… When we intentionally work together we create a deeper understanding, more connection and greater intimacy…
This is how we create an everlasting bond, a rock-solid Partnership. This is what enables us to Flourish and create our Brilliant Life…
ASSIGNMENT: Take a moment to,
Identify the infractions, your partner’s imperfections, that you tend to focus on in your relationship.
Identify what they trigger for you, what feelings come up when faced with them. Note, that this is a pervasive feeling… It just gets exacerbated during certain times…
Identify what the feelings call for. What are the associated needs? What do you imagine you need when those feelings come up? This is where the focus needs to be, on the feeling and how to meet the needs driving it. And, the need is NOT, I need my partner to do the dishes! LOL
Identify ways to appropriately meet your needs- to address the pervasive feeling… And remember, it has nothing to do with the actual items that get you. They are just messengers…
Play with this to your heart’s content, heal yourself and grow yourself up. You’ll notice how much easier and beautiful your life becomes… Embrace the opportunities!
Complete the Assignment, and share your takeaway, insights, and results with a note in the Comments box at the end! I’d love to hear how you are using this content.
Copyright (c) 2019 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.