Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Does Our Relationship Need A Patch?

What do we do when we hit a rough patch in our relationship? How do we make it through to the other side?

All long term committed relationships find they hit difficult times at some point. Partners suffer disappointments in their lives and these effect the relationship. Health issues can cause much stress and strain during times of illness, whether it's a member of the partnership or an extended family member. Body changes that occur during menopause and andropause may cause challenging times within a relationship. There may be times when one or both of the partners suffers the loss of a loved one. All these situations have the capacity to temporarily derail the partnership.

How do we get back on track? What can we do to minimize the damage? How do we support our partner, or garner support when we need it?

The key to getting out relationship back on track is regaining our balance. Life is not always easy or fair. This is a truism that each of us comes to accept in our own time. Wonderful people get horrible diseases and die young. Cruel people may benefit via the destruction of others throughout their lifetimes. The hardest thing about life is accepting reality when we don't like it. This is what each of us will face at some point in our lives.

We regain our balance by practicing acceptance and gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for in our daily lives. We try our best to focus on those things. We practice empathy and compassion for our partner as they struggle with their issues or losses. Change and the ensuing adjustment to those changes is difficult and painful. We do the best that we can to offer comfort and compassion to our partner as they face reality. This does not mean that we become another's doormat. We continue to practice self care, recognizing that healthy boundaries are an integral part of our healthy relationship. We may decide to overlook some unhealthy behaviors in an attempt to be compassionate, so long as they do not affect our self esteem.

When we are the one facing difficult times we try to be as calm as possible. We explain our situation in as much detail as we can to our partner, so as to provide them with the necessary information to cope with our difficulty. We try to be specific in our request for support letting our needs be known and not assuming that our partner will know what to do to help us. When we need to vent or be heard we explain that we don't actually need our partner to do anything but listen and be empathetic. In this way we free our partner from feeling impotent in the situation. We take time each day to practice self care, especially paying attention to our stress levels and using our tools (meditation, breathing, guided imagery, pampering) to manage them within acceptable limits.

When the challenges have passed the key to regaining intimacy and balance is gratefulness. We make sure we share with our partner how important their support has been throughout the ordeal, noting specific instances where their efforts have produced positive results for us. This type of validation and appreciation brings closure to the event and gives the supporting partner the proverbial shot in the arm they deserve for standing by us throughout the ordeal.

Compassion and empathy displayed often yields compassion and empathy returned. We attract what we are... not what we want. As long as we remember this ultimate truth we will be clear about how we are to behave in our relationships.

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