Have you ever listened to how someone in love talks about their relationship?
One of the biggest indicators of if a relationship will succeed or fail is how each partner talks about the relationship.
This is how I used to talk about my relationships:Why hasn’t he made plans with me this weekend? Is he hanging out with someone else? What did I do wrong? I don’t think this will work. He doesn’t really like me. I’m asking for too much. Am I being unreasonable? I wish he would tell me what he wants.
That used to be my life. I was constantly thinking about my relationships or almost-relationships in a way that had me feeling anxious. It wasn't on purpose. I wasn't trying to complain or be negative. I thought I was actually trying to make the relationship better, but it never worked.
Then I learned that HOW I was thinking about my relationship was making it worse.
Let me give you an example:
A few weeks ago, I met a woman who has been happily married for almost 40 years. I’m always interested in what makes a relationship successful, so I asked her “Have you ever had any struggles?” “Of course there have been struggles!” she said. “It was hard when he retired. I was working all day and coming home tired. He would immediately want to hang out and I needed to be left alone. He really missed me while I was away all day,” she said with a loving smile.
She said he missed her. She didn’t say that he was being super needy and annoying. She didn’t say he was in her space all the time. She didn’t make excuses for why he was acting how he was acting or pretending she didn't really need space even though she did.
She didn’t ignore the problem. There was a problem, but she was talking about it in a way that made her feel good.
Just the day before, I’d been talking with another women, who had the same problem but talked about in a different way:
“He’s driving me crazy. He’s home all day and always moving my stuff around. I always have to worry about what mess I’ll come home to next. When I get home I just want to relax and he never leaves me alone. I just wish he would give me some space.”
Can you guess the outcome of that woman’s relationship?I used to be mostly like the second woman, but I learned how to change that story, and now I almost always think about my relationship in a way that makes it stronger.
Action: What’s the story you are telling about your relationship? How is that story making you feel?
I want you to be honest. Not how you think you should be thinking, but what you really are thinking. Let that inner, overly-emotional side of you come out. Being honest about what you are thinking now really is the first step to changing your relationships.