Do you feel torn between meeting your own needs and those of your spouse, family members, or friends? When there are conflicting desires in a relationship--especially a marriage, it can be difficult to know how to resolve that conflict without stirring up resentful feelings. This article offers relationship advice that will help you get the love and respect you want and still be able to consider everyone's needs.
First, we'd like you to know how inspired we are by the fact that you are reading this article. It shows your desire to consider everyone's needs in your situation - not just your own - and your commitment to learning skills that may help you meet them.
First Things First
Before going any further, it's important that you become clear about what values are really important to you. It can be very difficult to come up with ways to experience what you want in your life without understanding what's important to you.
There are many different understandings we teach that can support your in a situation. We like to start by offering suggestions that you can apply immediately, and that almost always begins by looking inward.
As an example, let's explore a scenario that was brought up by a student of ours. As she put it: "My spouse likes to spend time with his friends, sometimes too much in my opinion, and this makes me feel unimportant, over looked, misunderstood, disconnected, and usually very resentful."
In our courses we teach that we are left powerless wheneber we believe someone else can make us feel certain ways: unimportant, overlooked, misunderstood.... Whenever we do this, we actually hand all our control over to them, and then how else would we feel but hurt and confused?
We teach that it's impossible for anyone else to make us feel any particular way. It is always OUR thinking about the situation that causes our pain.
We're guessing that when this woman's husband spends time with his friends she ends up thinking things such as, "He cares more about his friend than he does about me." "If he really cared about me he would spend more time with me." Or any number of other such painful thoughts.
Do any of these statements sound familiar? If so... you can start shifting from pain to power by understanding that it's your thinking about the situation that's causing you to feel bad and not your spouse's behavior.
No One Else Causes Your Pain
The first step is being able to disconnect from the idea that your spouse is causing your pain. Then you can figure out what you "do want" in a given situation and start working towards creating satisfying outcomes. When you're able to do this you can begin looking at these situations as an opportunity to explore ways to meet everyone's needs.
Going back to our student's example, she said: "My husband likes to spend time with the boys, sometimes too much." You can see how "too much" time with the boys doesn't tell her husband what she "does want," it only tells him what she doesn't like.
We tell a story (you may have heard it) in our eCourse, The Art of Conscience Connection, about a woman who told her husband that he was spending too much time at the office. So guess what he did... he joined a bowling league. Obviously, she didn't get what she really wanted.
If you are in a similar situation, are you clear about how much time you would like to spend with your spouse? Do you know what you would like to do together that would be satisfying and build the quality of connection you want? We suggest you get very clear about what you "do want" in relation to spending time with them.
There are many skills, tools, and understandings we teach that can support you in creating the kind of relationship you want. Many more than we can go into here.
The Benefit of Practice
We also believe that words can only give you an intellectual understanding, but it is experiential learning and practice that shifts behavior and habitual reactions.
We want to leave you with a couple of things to practice:
- Each time you notice yourself feeling uncomfortable, stop as soon as you can and identify the thoughts that are causing your discomfort. Then ask yourself, "Do I want to have this kind of thinking guide my actions?" Then notice what occurs to you differently.
- Listen for times you hear yourself saying things such as "I don't want, I don't like, I wish you wouldn't, would you stop..." or any other "don't want" statements. As soon as possible, stop and write down what you "do want" in the situation.
We believe these practices will not only help you experience more peace and harmony in your life, they will also support a desire for predictability and may therefore give you more comfort and stability. Life is way more predictable when you are the one in control of how you feel.
Healing Your Relashionship from the Inside Out
As we said before, the first place to start in a challenging situation is to look inside and see what part you are playing. Once you start cleaning up your internal environment it's much easier to start negotiating outcomes that will satisfy everyone involved.
If you found this article helpful, you may want to learn more about this and other personal growth and self-help techniques by signing up for our free thought-provoking, motivational Weekly Action Tips email series. Each tip offers practical advice for creating and living the life you really want.
And for more great relationship tips, visit our blog:
Remember, the shortest path to a happy life is found through conscious choice.
Published by Beth Banning and Neill Gibson, founders of Focused Attention. Our mission is to provide very effective self help and personal development tools, and the skills to use them well. Our passion is to help you build a strong foundation for deeply satisfying relationships in all areas of your life.
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