When couples come to counselling full of unmet needs, disappointment and hurts, they are often wondering if their relationship will survive. There are feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness as they talk about ongoing conflict over various issues. Unfortunately, according to Dr John Gottman, relationship expert, “couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before getting help”. That’s a long time feeling hurt, angry and resentful!
Getting to a counsellor quicker is essential and knowing that there is hope is important. In fact, what evidence has shown is that one of the great qualities of successful relationships is a mindset that says – I am responsible for my own attitude, behaviour, fears and triggers. That means there is plenty of hope because each party has the power to change their 50% of the relationship! When couples take this approach rather than the ‘blame game’, it takes the intensity out of the relationship and fosters the environment needed for change.
Consider the power of focus. What we focus on impacts our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. If all we do is focus on the things that make you frustrated and unhappy in the relationship, your thoughts become negative, you start feeling unloved and unsupported and you behave coldly towards your partner. When we focus on the good qualities in your partner it shifts the negative cycle, creating more love, harmony and opportunity for growth.It doesn’t mean that we become a walk-over, or that we never have times of conflict, it simply means that when we focus on the good it changes our perspective.
Often when we choose our partners, we are drawn to those that are quite different to us because it meets a need in us that we long for. In our marriage, I loved my husband’s passion and drive and he loved my relaxed personality, yet with every strength there also comes a weakness, and after the honeymoon period was over, we quickly discovered that our attraction to each other was being overcome by the things that irritated us. We had different expectations around organisation, parenting, work/life balance and money. These expectations were driven by how we were raised, our values and beliefs and past hurts that drove us to strive or avoid. Over many years and through many mistakes we began to change our focus to the things we liked about each other, began laughing at our differences and recognised that some of the behaviours that we brought into the relationship were more about us than our partner.
We can’t change our partners, but we can influence them by how we choose to live. You really can make a huge difference to your relationship!
Statistics say that for a relationship to flourish we need to have 5-20 positives to 1 negative comment so I’m pretty sure we all have lots to work to do around that. So let’s take the pressure off and become an influencer, focus on each others’ strengths and create the environment for miracles to happen.After all, we really are meant to be crazy about each other!