Exploring imagination, triggers, criticism and habit, Paulette Bibeau discovers the power of thought to affect her relationship.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Rumi
When your relationship is off and you’re thinking goes along this line . . . there is something wrong . . . we use to . . . now we . . . what happened to . . . we have to fix this . . . I never should have married him . . . .
If you have any of these thoughts, take these five simple steps to getting your juice back on.
1) The habit of complaining about your partner will displace loving feelings.
I cannot maintain a loving feeling and a long list of complaints at the same time. The complaints get into my psyche and rearrange my feelings. For example: My husband has a habit of having too many work projects on the go and consequently lives his life in overwhelm, constantly putting out fires.
Not that I don’t do overwhelm, but my brand is more acceptable to me. Call it my blind spot. Nevertheless, once I start this mental stewing about his lifestyle choices, before I know it, I’ve completely lost that loving feeling.
It’s been replaced with judgement and irritation, maybe a little resentment, mixed in with martyrdom. Needless to say it’s quite the cocktail I’m making. A potion that induces negative interactions, like me needing to fix him and rearrange him so he behaves in a way that puts me back in my comfort zone. You can imagine how that goes.
I recently accepted the fact that this is how he does life and have stepped out of the inner and outer conversations about this, mostly. It is his life after all and, of his own free will, he has learned the power of NO and his to-do lists aren’t as long as they used to be.
2) Imagine going back to the good old days, when you used to like each other, when you used to enjoy each other’s company, when simply being together was a sweet experience.
Those good feelings are still there. Buried, but can be exhumed. If you bring back those good feelings you may find some of your present day complaints going away.
Remember some of the sweet things you used to do together and do them again. Do more of what feels good.
You might say you were in love then and now you are a realist. Or, it may sound too simple, but it worked for me. I am a person who has spent a lot of time in complicated. I gave myself a much needed rest. I went for the simple solution.
For example: My husband and I have started spending all day Saturday together. At first we had an agenda on those days. Go here, go there. Do this and do that.
And there was a bit of a struggle about doing things we both enjoyed. We enjoy skiing, dining out, watching movies and going for walks. At one point, early on, we hit a snag on walking.
My husband’s idea of going for a walk was quite different from mine. I thought we were going to enjoy each other. He thought we were going to enjoy him and his business concerns. He actually thought he was being intimate when he talked to me about his business.
Now this may be an aphrodisiac to some women but . . . . Thanks to our experiments and willingness to work through our differences, our walks have evolved. They are enjoyable to both of us and we have re-discovered how much we like spending time together with no agenda.
There is only one condition on our Saturdays – we spend most of the day out of the house. There is too much temptation at home – distractions and work addictions. Our Saturdays are rejuvenating and we both look forward to them.
3) Is there a certain subject that you cannot discuss without losing it? And this has become a habit now with both sides fully entrenched in their point of view.
Any problem can be solved from a calm place. When you feel your temperature rising, step away from the conversation. Pull back. Retreat!
You cannot create world peace with a shouting match or high drama. We never make things right with volume. Your personal point of view is A point of view, not THE point of view.
For example: My husband and I had a conversation this morning that started to go south. I felt he was telling me I couldn’t have something I wanted to have. I heard: “You don’t need that.” (By the way – it had nothing to do with my wardrobe – he wouldn’t go there.)
It was like my father or even his father speaking. You know the tone. When I repeated it to him, in the voice that I heard in my head, we both laughed and it broke up the tension. We were able to continue our conversation (minus the childish “It’s my money” comments from me) and with both of us in a calmer state of mind, we were able to negotiate and see possibilities that were not available to our closed thinking moments before.
4) Don’t go down the “you said/I said” or the “I’m right/you’re wrong” rabbit hole.
You will exhaust each other before you find there is no bottom. You will erode all goodwill if this kind of corroding dialogue goes too far, for too long, and too often. It squeezes out the loving feeling and replaces it with something you’d really rather not be feeling. Feeling that kills intimacy and connection.
While we are all taken up with this mental arithmetic, locked in the right/wrong dynamic, we are missing the point – that we want good feelings in our relationship.
Again step away from the conversation. Take a time out. Wait till you’ve calmed down, till you’ve found your equilibrium and you treasure your well-being and that of your partner. Then try again.
When things start to escalate and emotions heat up and voices get higher in pitch and volume – break the habit, use your good sense, and walk away. And if once in a while you don’t that’s OK too. Sometimes a good argument is what you both need. Just be respectful and fight fair and maintain your goodwill towards each other.
With the power of goodwill behind us we can learn to be better with our partners.
5) Some of us are quite adept at self-criticism and it may unknowingly spill out to all our relationships.
Somewhere along the way this has become justified in our relationship with ourselves and with others. Mostly, it is unconscious, but with some quiet time and reflection you may be able to see where you may be innocently thinking this is a good idea. How else do we improve, right?
Thinking we have the right point of view does not mean it is the truth. I know, hard to believe. When I think I’m right I may even think it is my duty to criticize. This could be called self-righteousness. Very ugly word in my mind. I hate it when I go there.
We all get lost in our thinking and analyzing everyone and everything. One thought leads to another and another till we’re stuck in over-thinking, spinning wheels.
Is this mental obsessiveness a cultural habit? An intimacy-breaking habit? One in which we lose our hearts? We lose our feeling for those we want to have a loving feeling towards.
When I drop out of my head and all that thinking, I find my loving feeling returns. The distance between the heart and head felt like it was a million miles, but as it turns out, or more accurately, as I tune in, it was just a thought away.
So maybe the loving feeling has turned a little or a lot sour but don’t be too quick to blame the relationship. Reflect on your thoughts, your point of view, and in that quiet space you may find a deeper, beautiful feeling available.
Let us wake each other up to the love that resides in everyone. In that place we are all good men and good women.