relationship, relationships, communication, trust, truth, sacrifice, couples

15 Ways to Encourage Relationship Survival

Learn how to think about your relationship in 3 parts, why blame is immature and why being a separate individual keeps a partnership more solid. Consider how sacrifice, respect, going to bed angry and not playing games is crucial for relationship longevity.

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15 Ways to Encourage Relationship Survival Episode #31

Relationship Survival is not a mystery, it does require a ton of work.No one knows better than I how hard it can be to make relationships last. I spend an enormous amount of time helping couples figure it out. So after all the years I’ve invested in couples work I’ve got a few ideas, I want to share…..

Today marks my second anniversary of Podcasting. I’ve created 31 episodes in two years. I still remember how technologically overwhelmed I was starting out. I appreciate those of you who have been listening, thanks so much!! This is my anniversary gift to my audience.

Here is the first:

#1. Find the courage to talk about hard things instead of avoiding them. Why? Because the unspoken piles up & ultimately leads you to disconnection. Think of speaking your truth as a gift to someone you love. Both of you need to practice being authentic with each other for res;ationship survival.

#2. When you talk about things that are important, be prepared to have 25 to 75 conversations. Why? because when you both feel differently about something important it takes many, many conversations to SOFTEN the differences. Negotiations can’t be seriously considered until there is a lot of softening. Softening leads to dialogue instead of parallel monologues. Values collisions take a lot of time & talk to soften.

#3. Talk about problems when they are still small. Why? Silence usually leads to Resentments. Be choiceful about what matters. Everything is not important. However, if you silently swallow too much there are long term consequences to the relationship. Short term you can pretend something doesn’t matter, but if it does matter deal with being uncomfortable & speak up. YOU CAN NOT GROW UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE. The point of loving someone is to work at being a better person over the years.

#4. Think about your relationship as three parts; you, the other person & THE US. Why? The 3rd entity is too easily forgotten. Take care of the US. Do you see each other clearly or are you seeing who you want the other person to be? If you are thinking about the US it changes your frame of reference about the world. Do you have each other’s back? You do if there is an US.

#5. Stay Curious & Interested In Each Other!! Over Time Continue to Get to Know Who Your Partner Is, don’t assume you always know their answers. If you have kids, hire a babysitter & go out twice a month. Why? Because otherwise you will forget about the two of you as a couple. It’s crucial to keep that US energy burning. Pay attention to feeling attracted to each other, curious & interested. Keep telling each other stories of who you are & what you are experiencing. Because it is soooo easy to devolve into being roommates who run the business of being a family together. Who pays the bills, who runs the kids when to soccer does NOT sustain the two of you as a couple. Take time to remember who you are as a couple.

#6. Don’t allow sex to disappear. Why? It is free, fun & a lovely way to connect. Who doesn’t love an orgasm? Sex disappearing is NOT a natural part of aging, Having children is not an excuse for sex too disappear, even though you may be exhausted. Saying you are too tired becomes an easy excuse. Sex needs to be anticipated in a positive way, not as a chore.

#7. Discuss Money. Why? If you don’t figure out how to share it you will have problems. You will feel more like a team if you both discuss your financial priorities & how to make money work better for the two of you. Don’t have credit card debt. Do you know the interest rate on each of your credit cards? If not, then do the research to find out. Live within your means! If you can’t afford a vacation, don’t. In Pittsburgh we call it a Pittsburgh Porch vacation when you stay home. Seek advice from the book Money harmony by Olivia Smith who offers help to couples.

#8. In years 6 to 10 when the illusions disappear, think of it as an opportunity to grow. Everyone reaches a place where they are scratching their head wondering what they are doing being with the other. Consider this a stage of development where you both have a chance to grow & learn. Why? Because many relationships fall apart in these years because the romantic pretending disappears. Now is a chance to learn how to build a more authentic infrastructure to really crate a solid future. Relationships are not easy or magical except in the beginnings, so if you love someone decide to do a lot of hard work.

#9. Recognize that when you have communication problems, it means you don’t feel seen accurately. It’s a lot of work to accurately understand someone else. Consider whether there is a power struggle underneath simply because you are both determined to be right. Success in communication means creating trust by building on sharing truths. Learning how to be real & speak your truth can be a tricky business for both people because it is more complicated, not simple. We adore the simplicity of one person winning as a short term avoidance maneuver.

#10. When you fight don’t blame & make accusations. Why? Blame sets up defensiveness & circular arguments that have nothing to do with problem solving & everything to do with winning. Blame is a very immature activity that is about manipulation. Make “I” statements instead of belting out an exaggerated bunch of “You” statements. Blame is easy & taking responsibility for your part in the problems is about being a grown up instead & leads to relationship survival. If you want to be elegant in an argument? It’s simple: be able to state to your partner what is important to them BEFORE you rattle on about your own point of view over & over & over again.

#11. Don’t Lose Track of Who You Are as a Separate Individual. Why? Because the more you take responsibility for yourself & defining your own wants & needs as an individual, the more likely you are to be happy as a couple. It is your job to take care of yourself & to make yourself understood to others. Partnership is nourished by each person bringing their energy as an individual back to the relationship and it certainly makes things more interesting. When I’m in a restaurant & I see people avoiding conversations by being on their phones it makes me sad. If your own life is interesting then you have things to share that encourages relationship survival!

#12. Go to Bed Angry & wake up civilized. Why? When you are emotional & fueled by anger you are very unlikely to listen or negotiate. So wake up, be sane & problem solve. In the morning you are more likely to think instead of being swamped by self indulgent feelings. Late at night it is very hard to seriously consider the truth of someone else’s point of view. Many times as part of a couple you have to hold two opposite truths together at the same time if you want to have relationship survival.

#13. Be prepared to Sacrifice for each other. Why? Because otherwise love lacks substance. Put your money where your mouth is, it’s easy to say the words. How about sacrifice for your partner (not just your kids). Sacrifice is something grown ups do for each other for relationship survival. Sacrifice means doing something for the other that you didn’t want to do. Can you remember when you last made a sacrifice for your partner?

#14. Don’t lose RESPECT for your partner. Why? Because respect is more important than love in relationship survival. The ultimate test of respect is that you allow the other person to influence you. When you respect someone you are able to risk more vulnerability, which is crucial to building trust & relationship survival.

#15. Don’t play Games. Why? Because games skip over substance. Games are about power struggles. Insecurities often drive the games. So it is crucial to figure out how to stop trying to stuff your partner into the empty hole inside of you. Manipulation & Winning are not what relationships are all about. The Game Victim, Rescuer & Persecutor or the Karpman Drama Triangle is fully described in my previous podcast episodes #11 & #12.

My challenge to you today is to print these out & consider a conversation with your partner about how many of these the two of you have put into play.

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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