We are emotional and social beings. We want to feel, express, and connect. Hence we can't really ignore the importance of relationships in our life.
When most people think of relationships, they think of them as long romance stories. That could be true, but that's not all of it. We've different kinds of relationships to enjoy which come with different challenges.
What are those challenges? And how to deal with those challenges?
Let's dive into her insights about the core reasons for relationship challenges and their solutions.
A relationship is made of two. And no two people are the same.
Each person in a relationship comes with their own stories, experiences, perceptions, beliefs and wounds. The lack of awareness and understanding for these differences causes various relationship issues. Like:
2) One or both partner(s) feels taken for granted
4) War of chores
5) War of finances
6) Lack of trust
7) Mismatched sex drives
8) Mismatched life goals
9) Lack of appreciation
10) Entitlement issues
11) War over parenting
12) Unrealistic expectations
13) Lack of healthy communication
14) Not talking/ listening/ giving attention/ spending time
16) Being unsupportive
18) Differences in values
19) Emotional unavailability
21) Blame games
22) Keeping scores
23) Controlling or dominance
If we look into all these problems, we realize they're the effect, not the cause.
Whether we're looking forward to getting into a relationship. Or we're in one and we want to make it better – it's good to become aware of some deeper issues that play an important role in aggravating relationship challenges.
This helps to bring attention to our patterns and heal them so that we can handle things differently.
Hence, in this piece, we'll talk about fixing the issues at the level of the cause, not just the effect.
Before we get into that, let’s have a look at the 7 pillars of a healthy relationship:
Safety and Security
All the core reasons that we're now going to talk about will actually enhance these pillars to develop a healthy relationship.
Reason #1: We don't know how to listen
It's our basic need as humans to be heard.
But most of us don't have the muscle to listen to others without any judgment. Aka ONLY LISTENING – without trying to solve anything or fix them or point their mistakes to them or sharing our thoughts and beliefs.
Since many people were not heard of as children, they get very uncomfortable when the other person involved in the relationship starts to share their problems with them.
The moment such a deep conversation begins, they start providing solutions or advice so that they can run away from having that conversation because it triggers a wound in them.
This creates (and/ or triggers) wounds for another person who wants to be heard.
A lot of people think that the main reason for relationship issues is a lack of communication. But in most cases,
Communication issues are the effect of relationship problems. Not their cause.
There is a chance the other person is closed and is not ready to open up to talk. But actually what happens is, many people get closed because they fear they'll get judged by the other person or what the other person will think about them.
What to do?
Listening with undivided attention is a way to develop deep trust and connection in a relationship. It makes the other person feel loved and heard. Hence the bond goes deeper. And the intimacy deepens.
Sometimes, we respond even without listening to why the other person is saying so or they feel so. Thus it's always good to take a pause and ask them,
"Why do you feel so? Is there anything you would like to share with me about why you feel so or think so?"
The other person may not open up right away. But they want to. Maybe in the past, you've not heard them this way. But when you slowly start doing this. They open up too…slowly.
Tell them, "It's okay. I am here for you and I would be happy if you share it with me. You can share it when you are comfortable."
Reason #2: We don't know how to share
Just like we don't know how to listen, we also don't know how to share. Sharing our raw feelings and situations involves a lot of vulnerability which is considered a weakness by us.
If we want to create a sustainable relationship that has a lot of depth, love and connection, and intimacy, then learning to share is very important.
Vulnerability is the courage of showing up and being yourself, without a mask, and with all your flaws.
It doesn't mean one has to be a victim and keep crying. It also doesn't mean they have to share everything or anything.
It means when the situation requires you to talk or admit something or give reasons about why you said what you said or why you feel what you feel, YOU DO IT.
When we don’t communicate, unrealistic and hidden expectations grow. Like, my partner will understand my silence. (hint: it’s passive-aggression)
What to do?
1) When you can't communicate clearly, contemplate: What is stopping me from communicating clearly?
2) Practice communicating clearly. Slowly one step at a time.
3) Work on healing your wounds around the fears of being judged.
Reason #3: We only see what we want to see
We see things from our limited perceptions based on what we learned as a child, what we believe, what we feel is right or wrong, our conditionings, and our judgments.
Just how we have our limited perceptions, the other person too has a way of dealing with things. They have their own experiences and we try to judge them as per our experiences.
This makes the other person feel they are not understood or misunderstood which makes it difficult to build intimacy and a healthy relationship.
What to do?
Put yourself in the shoes of the other person and live their side of their story to connect with them at an actual empathetic level.
Reason #4: We depend too much or too little
A) Your life consists of nothing but your partner.
B) You spend very little time together but are always busy in your own lives and work.
Both ways do not work. Because both are extremes.
Two emotional needs of humans are: Certainty and Variety. We all have different versions and ratios of these two in our lives.
It's important that in a relationship too, we balance it out. How?
Have a healthy personal space.
Do certain things individually.
Have your own set of friends.
Choose hobbies that you enjoy.
Also, do find enough things to enjoy together.
When you spend the vast majority of the time with one person, it's easy to get tired of being with them. If you take some time apart you'll appreciate the time you spend with them more.
Moreover, co-dependence and extreme independence, both are unhealthy extremes.
Not all unhealthy relationships are codependent, but all codependent relationships are generally unhealthy.
Interdependence is the middle way of keeping the charm alive.
Healthy interdependence distinguishes between the needs of both partners and helps to meet the needs of each partner in a meaningful and right way.
What to do?
1) Before we jump to solutions, it's crucial to recognize and acknowledge if we have these unhealthy patterns in us. Hence ask yourself, if I am too dependent or if I am fearful to be dependent and avoid relationships?
2) Bring attention to why you feel so? What are you afraid of? Being alone or being together?
3) What led you to feel that way?
4) Work on building trust in yourself and others and the universe itself, that you are in a safe and secure space.
Reason #5: We don't know how to ask and receive
Every being on earth has needs. No matter how much one tries to deny it.
When we suppress our needs, we stop ourselves from thriving holistically. Plus we invest our energy in meeting those needs subconsciously. Henceforth leaving our partners manipulated. At times when we realize it, we feel guilty. Yet, we find ourselves unable to stop it because we have not figured out how to get these needs met healthily.
As children, when we were denied our needs, we formed many beliefs around it. Like, our needs are bad. Or we are being a bad child.
To be a good child, we were taught to meet our parent's needs by ignoring ours so as to get acceptance and approval from them.
As adults, the child within us still believes, if we ask someone directly, they won't meet our needs but will feel that we are bad.
A need is something that is required to live, succeed or be happy. And we cannot un-require something that is required.
We cannot argue our way into seeing that it isn’t necessary. We have one option when it comes to our needs and that is to meet them.
To learn to meet these needs healthily, one must be aware of who they are and define it for themselves. This helps them to stop playing games with people to meet their needs but simply get better at asking them without feeling guilty.
Once it's understood, the next step is to learn how to ask.
How to learn?
1) Bring clarity to what your needs are.
2) Learn the distinction between your needs, wants and desires.
3) Work on healing your fears around rejection and abandonment.
4) Build your self-worth.
5) Start asking clearly from your partner. Without any stories but in very simple and clear terms.
Start small. Take one step at a time.
Reason #6: We talk in our love language, not theirs
Imagine you meet a friend in college and you go out for lunch with them. You love Chinese food and you give them a treat of Chinese food every single time you go for lunch with them.
You think they also like Chinese food because you like it and you feel it is good. But they could actually like Italian, American, Indian, or any other food cuisine.
Just how we have different food choices, we have different love languages in which we like to give and receive our token of love.
The problem occurs when in a relationship one might not be giving the other person what they would love to receive. And similarly they are not receiving what they would want to receive.
Now, no matter how much these two people try, they will both end up resentful and unfulfilled.
For healthy relationships, it's important we learn about:
1) our love language and our partner's love language. Check out this link to know about love languages.
2) making little effort to talk to them and do things for them in their love language.
3) ASKING them to do something for us in our love language.
4) being grateful and gracious in receiving. Also, being generous and kind in giving.
Reason #7: We don't challenge each other enough
Challenging each other doesn't mean to just challenge each other in bringing variety in life or go for adventures, or try new things together. When it's important to keep the spark alive, it's still an external way of stimulation.
Then what does challenging each other mean?
1) Finding a purpose together.
2) Knowing the depth of oneself and their partner. Going for a deep inner journey with one another. Beyond just body-mind.
3) Dissolving triggers, blocks, and conditioning.
4) Inspiring each other to become better.
5) Bringing focus to evolving together.
That's how a relationship evolves along with being an instrument for the evolution of both people involved in it.
Healthy relationships are not the ones that don't have any problems. It is nothing but an imagination.
Healthy relationships are the ones where both people are willing to bring resolution to the problems and see how they can grow with it. Individually and together.
Relationships are going to be a part of our lives, no matter how much we try to get rid of them. They are always showing us what is left to heal and what we have healed. That's why:
Relationships are our best teachers. They are our mirrors.
We only need to look into these mirrors with compassion and curiosity. If you need any help in doing so, feel free to reach out to our Coaches at Anamify.
About Ashi and HeyEmotions
Ashi writes HeyEmotions – the weekly newsletter to help people feel and express their emotions. She emphasizes on emotional management and aims to normalize the conversations on emotions and feelings. Don't miss out on her amazing content and don't forget to subscribe.
Link to subscribe to HeyEmotions: https://heyemotions.substack.com
Ashi also works with mental health professionals to help them build their online presence.
If you are a mental health professional and are looking for growing online, Ashi would be the right fit to offer her valuable services.
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