This guest article from YourTango was written by Dr. Margaret Paul.
Is your relationship in trouble? The first question you should ask yourself is: Do I want to save this relationship or do I want to leave it? If the answer is that you want to save it, then this article is for you.
The following are seven rules or choices that you can make to completely change the course of your relationship.
1. Be honest with yourself regarding your primary intention.
Which category do you fall into: the intent to protect or the intent to learn?
Is your primary intention to protect yourself from your fears with some form of controlling behavior such as anger, blame, criticism, withdrawal of love, threats, compliance or resistance? Is having power over your partner and winning more important to you than being loving to yourself and your partner? Do you make your partner responsible for your feelings? Are you more devoted to getting love and avoiding rejection, rather than to mutuality, caring and sharing love?
Or is your primary intention to learn about loving yourself and your partner? Are you more devoted to mutuality, caring and sharing love than to being right, winning, having your way or making your partner responsible for your feelings? Is learning more important to you than whether or not you receive approval?
Basic to all the other rules is being in the intent to learn about loving yourself and others. If your primary intent is to protect yourself from pain and rejection with controlling behavior, you will have no chance of improving your relationship. You will continue to create the very problems you are attempting to avoid with your controlling behavior.
2. Let go of the past.
Hanging on to old grievances is part of the intent to protect. Blaming your partner for your pain rather than taking responsibility for whatever choices you made that resulted in your unhappiness.
3. Disengage from conflict as soon as one person is not open to learning.
There is no point in trying to talk out problems and issues unless both people are open to learning. If you are open and your partner is not, then give up trying to solve problems by talking about them, and unilaterally figure out how to take loving care of yourself in the face of your partner’s choices.
4. Keep your eyes on your own plate, sharing only about yourself and your own learning.
Let go of analyzing or defining your partner. Let go of interrogating questions that are really attacks. These behaviors are controlling and invasive. Your job is to define yourself, not your partner! The more you define your own inner worth and let go of attempting to define your partner, the better your relationship will become.
5. Do your own Inner Bonding work to deal with your issues of abandonment and engulfment, and to define your own worth and lovability.
Rather than making your partner responsible for your fears of abandonment or your fears of losing yourself, do your inner healing work to move beyond these fears. Take full responsibility for these fears rather than making your partner responsible for causing them.
6. Accept your lack of control over your partner, choosing instead to see your partner as his or her own person.
Learn to cherish the differences rather than try to make your partner into you. Support your partner in becoming all he or she came to this planet to be. Support your partner in what brings him or her joy, taking responsibility for whatever fears your partner’s independence brings up for you.
7. Make kindness to yourself and others your guiding light, even when your fears are triggered.
Once again, if you are stuck in the mindset of protection and control, you will not be able to make these choices. Your intent to learn is basic to being able to make these choices and improve your relationship. You are in charge of your intent, and the option to let go of the intent to protect/control and move into the intent to learn about loving yourself and your partner, is always available to you.
More great content from YourTango:
- My Girlfriend Has Trust Issues – What Should I Do?
- Is Social Anxiety Disorder Wrecking Your Marriage?
- Why Men Are More Distant Than Women in Relationships
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Jul 2014
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Experts, Y. (2011). 7 Ideas to Help Save Your Sinking Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/11/14/7-ideas-to-help-save-your-sinking-relationship/