Prior to reading this check out Organize Your Relationship Part 1 http://www.i-deal-lifestyle.com/self--space-blog/organize-your-relationship-part-1-by-marla-stone-lifestyle-coach and Part 2 at http://www.i-deal-lifestyle.com/self--space-blog/organize-your-relationship-part-2-by-marla-stone
Relationships are as difficult as you state they are. When you talk about how bad something is, it will be bad. When you are unhappy with the behaviors of your partner, stating your unhappiness over and over is a sure way nothing will change. Writing lists of what you want in an "ideal" partner is a regular routine I do with my husband. As I grow and learn more about myself I want more growth and understanding from my partner and vice versa. I realize every day that my partner does not have a mind-reading mechanism. When I am not specific about my feelings and thoughts, he does not know what I want from him. He does not interpret my sighs and my huffiness. He does not understand which behaviors to change or shift.
For example my husband started to get a bit out of shape. It bothered him, so he thought it bothered me. I became annoyed with him complaining about his physique, and then he misinterpreted that annoyance as an irritation about his weight. I did not notice anything different about his look, but if I was upset about his shape, I simply would have said, "I'm unhappy with you getting out of shape but I love you no matter what." Stating a clear negative feeling and then a validation is being truly assertive. People will hear negative feelings when there is a positive statement following. It's still my husband's choice to do something about his body, or not, yet the result of ignoring your partner's unhappiness just leads to confusion and more unhappiness. If something bothers you about another person's behavior, then it just is. So my husband started going regularly to a gym and loves boot camp.
On the other hand my husband, who has a difficult time sharing feelings started to moan and groan when I worked late into the night. He did not like me working on the computer, ignoring our time together in the evenings. He finally after some prodding told me "Marla I'm upset with all the time you're on the computer during the evening, when we could spend time together." He gave me the opportunity to not have to guess why he was upset, but he shared his feelings and validated me by telling me that he missed me. There it was, he was upset about not spending enough time together. To be truly assertive I addressed his feelings by stating a feeling of my own in relation to his feelings. I said to him "I'm irritated that you are upset, and I am still going to write into the night, but I love you and let's hang out in the morning and go for a walk." He doesn't get to dictate that I stop, but he gets to hear my feelings, respect and validation for how he feels. I could have just as easily said, "I feel sad that you are upset and I will get up earlier to write." When there is someone unhappy it is still each person's choice to make the changes the other requests. It is my choice and his choice to make decisions about what we do or don't do, no matter what. Someone else's feelings count but so do yours.
Having the respect to give someone's feelings attention is the beginning of compromise. But compromise literally means with promise, and what you promise comes with commitment to that promise. The old phrase "Be careful what you promise" is important for a stable and safe relationship, rather than a wild ride relationship. When someone wants more of you, or for you to change, don't cower down and say you will, when you have no intention of changing at all. Tell the truth in relationships. "No," and "I don't want to" are okay to express. Sometimes the other person really doesn't want anything from you but attention. Sharing feelings and speaking your mind about what you want, and then making sure you tell the person that you love them is the bridge to connectivity and happiness.
When a partner no longer wants to be a partner, they will ignore your feelings completely. For instance, a partner who promises to be home for dinner by six every night, but doesn't ever come home until after nine, is running solo. If that happened in a business situation it would be career suicide. In a relationship it means the "partnership" is sailing in two different directions. Confronting the distant partner with feelings of abandonment and hurt is the first step. Telling that partner why you would love them to be home earlier is the second step. When the partner says, "I am staying until nine in order to afford a second car for you, and I love you so much and am truly not ignoring you," then you may still be upset, but there is communication which will lead to coping and acceptance. If the partner does not communicate feelings, thoughts and validation and continues the self centered / non-caring behaviors, realize there is a split in the relationship.
Repairing a split relationship starts with each person recognizing if the partner really meets their criteria. Write a list of 30 things you want in an ideal partner and follow instructions in the first two articles about how to proceed from there. Bottom line you deserve an ideal partner and so does your partner. It is no reflection on you when you don't meet someone else's criteria, it only means that there is no compatibility. If someone values career and wanted someone else who values career, yet one partner wants to be a stay at home parent then it will not work. When someone values athletics and having a great shape, yet the other loves donuts and watching tv with a bowl of chips it won't work. While one person may love socializing and traveling and the other books and alone time, if each partner honors the other's autonomy there is a chance to continue a thriving relationship. But when one wants the other by their side 24 / 7, then sorry charlie, it's not happening.
Often when two people who thought they were compatible, turn out incompatible, it stems from not having a criteria for an ideal partner from the get go. We generally have more criteria points for a car, or a home than we do a partner. Figure out what you truly want in a partner before doing anything else. Then take a look at what your partner wants and see if there are enough cross overs to make it work. Working on how to accept someone who truly doesn't meet your criteria would be like forcing yourself to eat a food you loathe every single day.
Marla Stone is a productivity / efficiency lifestyle expert.
Find her information on www.perfectlypaired.com for relationship coaching or call 949-709-7000 for a free 15 minute phone consultation to find out more about having ideal relationships.
Marla earned her BA in Psychology and a Master's in Social Work and is the founder of I-Deal-Lifestyle, a Self and Space Organization Service.