We all question our relationship at some point – that’s normal. How you handle your anxiety is where things get complicated.
If you worry about your relationship, odds are that something needs to be fixed. When I say worry, I don’t mean thinking about your relationship. I mean getting anxious about it.
I think about improving my relationship regularly. But, I don’t worry about it. When I think about my relationship I get a good warm glow and a happy feeling in my heart.
I have been in other relationships where thinking about the relationship brought up a lot of anxiety and a tightness in my gut that would sweep over me like a tidal wave. It was uncomfortable in the extreme.
The worst case of worry I had about a relationship caused me a duodenal ulcer. My pain had moved from emotional to physical. Damned near killed me, I got so sick.
Needless to say, when I was worrying about my relationship, things were not going well. In fact, there were some major problems but the main idea floating between my ears was, “Should I stay or should I go?”
I think I can make the assumption that most of us have been in a bad relationship at some point in our lives. But what if you are in an OK or a good relationship? When do you listen, or have to listen, to those niggling thoughts that start to creep into your mind? When do you acknowledge that you are spending far too much time thinking about minor issues between you and your partner? Or, are they minor?
I may not be anxious in the same way I am when in a “bad” relationship, but in some ways it is more perplexing. I may not even know why I am feeling antsy. I think everything is OK, but there is a disquiet lurking just beneath the surface. This nebulous and faceless entity is hard to coax into the light of day. I see the ripples of its passage but not the beast itself.
The mind is a tricky thing but the ego is trickier still. We live in a society where, generally speaking, men are taught to ignore their emotions. When I start to get negative feelings about the relationship, I might be inclined to ignore them at first.
If, at a cursory glance, I can’t find any reason for them, I will definitely put those concerns aside thinking, “Ah, I must be having a bad day.” Dismissing feelings that don’t fit into an approved paradigm has been beaten (literally) into many a man.
Yet, we are not stupid. And when those thoughts and accompanying feelings keep knocking at our door, even the toughest of us eventually turn around and face this persistent and annoying bear.
Bears are dangerous and need to be treated with respect, lest they rip out our guts. Facing up to our feelings, or intuition, is mind-bending for some men. Feelings have been historically discounted, and intuition was so far out in left field that it was akin to believing in aliens.
Things have changed to some degree.
The idea of trusting your gut (intuition) started to show up in leadership and business books.
For example, in 1993 Kathy Kolbe wrote Pure Instinct: Business’ Untapped Resource and more recently, Strategic Intuition by William Duggan was published by Columbia Business School Publishing in 2007.
Heck, if hard-ass business types place value on something other than rationality and logic – it has got to have value.
Here’s the bottom line, continuing on with the business analogy, if you are receiving messages from your body, mind, or intuition – LISTEN. You will save yourself lots of time and stress. I would have saved three years in one relationship alone if I had listened and acted on what I knew in my heart.
Action is, of course, key once you listen to the messages you are receiving. Action in a relationship typically means communicating with your partner. You may feel afraid to do this and maybe for good reason. But, if you don’t communicate, your situation is unlikely to improve.
Sure it’s challenging to go up to your partner and share that you are having doubts. But an interesting phenomenon occurs when we put words to our fears or concerns – they shrink. It is like shining a light into a dark part of the basement, once we can see what is actually there, it doesn’t look as bad as what we had imagined. It might be damp and dirty, but it is nothing to be afraid of.
Once your concerns have been shared, talked about, and mutually satisfying solutions identified and implemented, you are on your way to a future with less stress and more in alignment with your vision of how you want life to be.
Even if your doubts are borne out and lead to the dissolution of the relationship, better now than later I say. The sooner you listen to your inner truth and act on it, the sooner your anxiety dissipates.
My worry is always telling me something. If I ignore it, I become anxious which increases the negative effects on my body. Worry is an early warning system about my environment.
Ignore these warnings at your own peril. I have, and it is not worth it. Time has taught me to have compassion for myself; though a road much less traveled, it is a much happier path.
If you want to stay awake at night, make it for the right reasons.