A satisfying relationship is one of life’s great blessings. Yet this has been both a source of joy and a source of frustration for me. As modern life has gotten faster and more demanding, the challenges of having a successful relationship seem to grow exponentially. Creating a healthy relationship, like raising children, may be among the hardest and most satisfying things we do in our lives. We want our partner to understand us and to see us for who we really are.
We all want our relationships to work. No one wants to fail. No one wants to give up expectations and hopes for the future. But, often, something isn’t working as we expect. The staggering divorce and separation rates are well documented and reflect the disappointments and failures of so many well-intentioned couples. I, too, had my dreams dashed when I got divorced, and nothing in my life has created more pain for me than the loss of my imagined future with my family.
Improving Your Relationship from the Inside Out
The marketplace is full of advice on how to improve your relationships. Such counsel has existed for centuries and there is much wisdom to tap. Yet the conditions we live in are different than ever before: demanding, complex, and continuing to change and evolve at a remarkable pace. The pressures of living the 24/7 life–the constant interruptions of new technology, increased productivity, the long hours–all complicate the challenge of creating a mutually satisfying relationship. Don’t we each feel a little bit of “speed shock”?
It’s funny how the faster new information comes at me, the more I rely on my own intuitive guidance and essential knowledge to form my decisions. I use what I know about the keys to having a successful relationship, and distill the essential truths that guide my daily actions. Relationships take work; we all know this. So now, my partner and I work to create the relationship we think is possible. We make the time to do the work.
Creating Your Own Personal Roadmap
With a personal inner roadmap in place based on sustained self-observation, intuition, and experience you can make thoughtful choices to keep your relationship intact and thriving. Rarely have I experienced the guidelines offered in books to be as relevant as the lessons that my own experience has taught me. I believe the best roadmaps come from an awareness of one’s personal journey–from the experiments and observations of daily life as well as from the tools of mindfulness and compassion.
The path to developing your own roadmap starts with compassionate self-observation coupled with disciplined practice. I have found that the power of regular practice leads to extraordinary results, but these results don’t come overnight. By conducting a daily “living experiment” I discover what is really true for me. Some of my “experiments” last a few minutes or a few hours. The longest ones have lasted years. My practice of forgiveness for another who had deeply violated my trust lasted over a decade until my system was really clear of the pain and the emotional wound. What do you do with your intention to unwind those experiences that have hurt you?
I battle with all the usual patterns–mental, emotional, and physical–that keep me from living with an open heart. It is the experience of watching and observing my inner state combined with deliberately having an open heart that can shift my relationship positively. As my energy shifts, my partner’s also shifts because our energy fields are constantly in dance, intersecting at every encounter. As I unwind the constrictions in my body-mind through my practice, it creates a similar unwinding of contracted spaces in our relationship.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The windows of opportunity for energetic and emotional contraction are easy to discover. Living intimately with any person, even someone with the kindest of hearts, seems to always bring up our “stuff:” judgments, misunderstandings, fear, criticisms, disconnection, loneliness, and more. These are the gummy residues of our childhood relationships played out once again in our adult selves. The gift of a truly partnered relationship is the opportunity to encounter ourselves again–this time with compassion–and reroute the maps of our emotional and neural pathways as well as our behavior and reactions.
With commitment as your compass, and experiments in self-observation and self-discovery as your tools, you free yourself and your partner to discover new roads to happiness and fulfillment that may lead to more satisfying destinations. Send us a postcard when you get there.