Relationship can be too complicated to understand at times, you wish you had more experience to understand things better so that hopefully it can get easier. But then what are books for if it wasn’t to give you this experience! It certainly can’t replace a real experience, but it can get you to understand not only relationships, but also yourself and your partner.
Below are some facts I learned from relationships books such as “Getting the love you want” for “Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.” “Divorce busting” for “Michele Weiner-Davis” and “Relationship rescue” for “Phillip C. McGraw. Ph.D.”:
1- It’s common that when your partner criticizes you, your subconscious mind, the perpetual guardian of your safety, instantly prompts you to fight or flee. It cares not that the person who criticized you is your partner; all it cares about is that you’re under attack. Unless you interfere with your subconscious mind response, you will immediately return your partner’s critical with a scathing rejoinder. Or on the other hand, you might attempt to flee the encounter altogether by leaving the room or burying your head in the newspaper. Depending on your approach your partner will feel either attacked or abandoned and will most likely lash out again. Instead acknowledge your partner’s anger, he might be upset about other things like work or something. Don’t rush into your own defense, speak with a rational voice and think of an alternative solution for whatever problem you’ve faced. In most interactions with your partner, you are actually safer when you lower your defenses than when you keep them engaged, because your partner becomes and ally not an enemy.
4- While the prevalent question before used to be “can this relationship be saved?” Nowadays the question turned to be “Should this relationship be saved?” And millions of people decide that the answer is no. In fact, ironically, many people now view divorce as an opportunity for personal growth. It’s not within relationship that people grow and change, according to this increasingly popular view, it’s when the relationship falls apart. But it’s not the separation that will open your eyes to your self-defeating behaviors and give you an opportunity to resolve those problems with a new partner, you have to understand the unconscious desires that motivated your dysfunctional behavior in the first relationship and learn how to satisfy those desires with your partner.
5- When you accept the limited nature of your own perceptions and become more receptive to the truth of your partner’s perceptions, a whole world opens up to you. Instead of seeing your partner’s differing views as a source of conflict, you realize that they are a source of knowledge: “What have you learned that I have yet to learn?” Relationships give you the opportunity to be continually schooled in your own reality and in the reality of another person. You realize also that reality is larger and more complex than either of you will ever know.
6- Most of your partner’s criticisms of you have some basis in reality. Most people are expert at spotting their mates’ Achilles’ heel. Unfortunately, most people also tend to deliver this valuable information in an accusatory manner, immediately arousing the partner’s defenses, but the pain of hearing a criticism is largely due to its accuracy. If the person could accept the truth in his partner’s remarks, he would become more aware of a significant disowned trait. That would give him the data he needs to grow and change.
7- In a healthy relationship, you realize that you live with another person who is not an extension of you. Your partner is a unique individual who has an equally valid point of view. Failure to recognize each other’s separate existence is the major source of conflict between partners.
8- It’s not important to agree with your partner on everything, but it’s important to validate his opinion and accept it like saying “When I see it from your point of view, yes, you do make sense. I just see things differently”. Each of us defends our separate reality. It must be connected to our fear of the loss of self. If I see it your way, I will have to surrender my way. If I feel your experience, I will have to invalidate mine. If what you say is true, then what I say must be false. There can be only one centre of the universe and that centre is me! But if I muster the courage to suspend my own point of view for a moment and then manage to see a fraction of your reality, something miraculous happens. You feel safer around me because I am no longer challenging your world-view, you can start to lower your defenses. You become more willing to acknowledge a portion of my reality, you are more willing to let go of yours. To our mutual surprise, a drawbridge begins to descend on its rusty hinges, and you and I connect.
9- When in conversation with your partner, it’s important to be a responsible sender as it is important to be a good listener. When you moderate the intensity of your emotions, your partner will feel safe enough to relax and listen. After all, your goal is not to wound your partner but to deepen the connection between you.
10- Most husbands and wives have identical needs, but what is openly acknowledged in one is denied in the other. When the partner with the denied need are able to overcome their resistance and satisfy the other partners’ overt need, a part of the unconscious mind interprets the caring behavior as self-directed. Love of the self is achieved through the love of the other.
11- Underneath every wish is a fear of having that with come true. When your partner starts treating you the way you long to be treated, you experience a strange combination of pleasure and fear. You like what your partner is doing but a part of you feels that you don’t deserve it. In fact, a part of you believes that in accepting the positive behavior you are violating a powerful taboo. The defense against receiving love is more common than most people would believe. The fear can range from an inability to accept compliments to an inability to form an intimate partnership. The way to overcome this fear is to keep on with the process of receiving the positive behavior.
12- When one changes in the way his partner wanted him to change might mean to some that the “me” that they were familiar with had to go away. On an unconscious level, the change can be equated with death. When you’re going to change your behavior, you’re going to feel anxious from time to time, but you’re not going to die. You are not going to disappear because you are not your behaviors, your value or your beliefs. You are much bigger than all those things combined. In fact, if you are going to change some of your more limiting behaviors and your beliefs, you would become more fully the person you were, the whole, loving, spiritual being you had been as a child.
13- Safety plays a vital role in creating lasting love. Two people cannot be passionate friends unless they feel safe in each other’s company. Couples need to feel physically safe, to be sure, but they also need to feel emotionally safe. Without safety, they cannot say what’s on their minds, express their full range of feelings, or be who they really are. They cannot lay down their armor and connect, even if they truly want to. We are all built that way. Danger activates our defenses.
15- Different is okay. A great relationship doesn’t depend on a great meeting of the minds. You’re not ever going to see things through your partner’s eyes. You will rarely understand and appreciate how and why your partner views the world in his or her particular way. The reason you won’t be able to do it is because you are so totally different from each your partner. You are genetically, physiologically, psychologically, and historically different. You have been conditioned differently by the world, you have different priorities, and you value different things in different ways. Now you need to live with it and stop rejecting it and thinking that you have to see things eye to eye.
16- A great relationship doesn’t demands a great romance. Even though your life with your partner should include plenty of romance. There are many times when you and your partner need to make an effort to be romantic, to go out on real dates as you did when you first met, to fill your life with candlelight dinners and weekends away from the kids. But the truth is that being in love is not like falling in love. People miss that dizzy feeling of infatuation that takes place at the very start of the relationship. Most people don’t know how to measure success in a relationship. Just because feelings change doesn’t mean that those feelings have to be less rewarding. What once was dizzying and exciting and thus very positive can very well become deep and secure, which is also very positive. You got to learn how to move to the next stages of love.
17- A great relationship doesn’t require a great problem-solving. Some couples, because they cannot agree on a core issue, interpret the lack of agreement as a purely personal rejection, and they stay bent out of shape about it forevermore. They carry that emotional pain forward and may well start telling themselves that there’s something wrong with the relationship, which is in fact just fine. Other healthier couples simply agree to disagree. They don’t let the arguments get too personal, nor do they resort to insults or counterattacks because they feel frustrated. Realistic partners achieve what psychologists call “emotional closure.” They don’t achieve closure on the issue, but they do achieve closure on the emotions. They give themselves permission to disagree without having to declare that one party is right and the other party is wrong. They decide to reconnect at a feeling level rather than disconnecting at an issue level.
18- A great relationship isn’t a peaceful one. Don’t worry about times you argue. That’s not the determining factor in your relationship stability and quality. Instead, it is determined by the nature of the way you argue, and by how you deal with the argument once it has run its course. If, for example, you are the type of combatant in a relationship who quickly abandons issues of disagreement and instead attacks the worth of the person with whom you are arguing, you are being a destructive force in your relationship.
19- A great relationship doesn’t mean venting all your feelings. We all have an infinite array of thoughts and feelings about our partners, a lot to which we have given a voice because it seemed like “a good idea at the time.” But upon reflection, the thoughts shouldn’t have been communicated for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that you didn’t really mean it. Let’s be honest, it feels sort of good to blurt out something in the heat of the moment about your partner’s weaknesses and let it loose like that, to finally feel like you had the upper hand. But what good did it do? None. For a moment you felt the exhilaration of rage, and you quite possibly damaged your relationship, and sometimes the damage can be permanent. It’s not that you should hide truths and be dishonest, but in order to meet the criteria of being open and honest, you need to be sure how you genuinely feel, you need to know if what you’re about to say is going to be said in the most appropriate manner.
20- A great relationship can survive a flawed partner. Sometimes, we feel that because something is not mainstream, then it must be toxic to the relationship, and that’s not necessarily true. Everyone has quirks and odd personality traits, and they can sometimes seem bizarre. If your partner’s quirks and nuances are non-abusive to you and non-destructive to him or her, you cann work on them. But at the same time, you can also accommodate them and enjoy a rewarding and fulfilling relationship.
21- A great relationship doesn’t mean that you should get your partner straightened out. Many of us assume that if we could just modify our partner’s thinking, feeling, and behavior, our relationship would be so much better. That’s a myth. The most important person for you to influence is yourself. You are the most important person in this relationship, and you must be the focus of your beginning efforts to change this relationship. You must rediscover your own dignity and self-esteem, your own personal power. You can either stay self-centered and keep blaming your partner, or you can make the choice to be self-directed and start working for real change.