Looking at a struggling relationship caused Michael Colon to realize that the problem was really in the ‘recipe.’
I love cooking. By nature I’m a very spastic person, I can’t stay still to save my life. So, when I first discovered cooking, it was quite the shock that I fell in love with it. Cooking takes time, it takes patience. Cooking asked me to do something I normally wasn’t able to do. Stay still.
When you cook you have to be in the moment (or you might set your house on fire!). You can’t walk away, you have to be there in the moment and focus on every little detail or all of your time could be for nothing! This was something I was not use too! The most tragic thing that would happen to me while I was trying to be a Hispanic Gordon Ramsey, Is that I would get halfway through preparing my meal and I would realize I didn’t have all the proper ingredients! Cue the violin as my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. So I would improvise and just push through and make the best meal with what I have, but it was never like the original recipe. I had to go out and collect the proper ingredients in order to make the meal the proper way.
When I started dating my current girlfriend I thought we had the perfect relationship, pretty much like everyone else does in the very beginning of their relationship. I realized pretty quickly how wrong I was. We fought over and over, it didn’t feel like it would ever stop. We were both exhausted and ready to call it quits.
The problem was—wait for it …. We didn’t have the proper recipe! I know what you’re thinking, what the hell are you talking about, recipe? Relationships aren’t as simple as a recipe in a cookbook. Well, I challenge that idea. What if they honestly were? I think as human beings we like to make ourselves to be more complicated than we actually are. By nature, human beings are actually pretty simple creatures. The one thing I learned on this journey of trying to discover what a healthy relationship looked like was that we can only be as healthy in our current relationship as our parents relationship was.
Why, you ask? Well that’s the recipe you know. Think about it! If you grew up in a home where you’re parents only communicated through yelling and belittling each other, you’re more likely to do the very same thing in your relationship. That’s the only recipe you know for communicating. Sadly, the recipe your parents have isn’t the right one. It took me a long time to realize this and a lot of heartache along the way. Don’t be like me, take a hard look at the way you communicate with your current partner. If you can, try to remember how your parents communicated growing up, I bet you’ll realize a lot of similarities to your current communication style.
I know it’s easy to say this stuff, but how do you legitimately start this journey. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some tips and advice on how to get started.
- Find a good recipe– I can’t tell you how much reading books about healthy relationships and communicating have dramatically helped my current relationship. The world is full of knowledge, you just have to go out and find it. Find a book about communication and read it together with your spouse or if their not ready for that, just read it on your own! Reading about communication techniques really helped me identify some of my own problems and learn new ones that help.
- Missing ingredients– If you keep trying to make a meal with some missing ingredients, you’ll always end up frustrated. Chances are most of your current relationship fights or problems arise from the past in some form or another. You and partner should sit down separately and really just dive into past relationships and identify problems (missing ingredients) and events that more than likely shaped your attitude towards a certain subject.
- Find a head chef– The reality is it’s really hard to change on our own, especially when it’s all we’ve ever known. On this journey to better myself in my relationship and communication skills, I sought out a therapist to help me. I have to say it was one of the better decisions I’ve made in a long time. Having someone on the outside and professionally trained in these things can only improve your relationship. If you’re reading this and thinking “No way could I ever open up and talk to a stranger about this stuff.” Chances are, that’s hurting your relationship.
- Substitute ingredients– Not everyone likes anchovies on their pizza and some people (god forbid) don’t even like pizza! What I’m trying to say is that everyone’s view of the “ideal” relationship is different. Maybe you want you and partner to be discuss sensitive subjects in a public setting or maybe you would like your partner to write a note if there’s something important they want to discuss and they don’t think they could say it without being too emotional. It works for some couples and it doesn’t work for others. Substitute ingredients.
- Keep the burner on low– Change isn’t easy and it’s a process, you have to respect the process. When I first started cooking I was very impatient, I would always keep the burner on high in hopes that it would cook the food faster and still be delicious! This did not work out the way I wanted too. The food burned and I ended up upset. If you and your partner are trying to change the entire dynamic of your relationship, you have to have patience and let it slowly cook over time.
Thank you for allowing me to turn my love of food into some weird analogy for relationships. These steps are not exactly the right steps, but I do think that it will guide you on the right course for a healthier relationship, not only with your spouse but with yourself.
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