In an informal survey I did, the most common concern people had about relationships was how to be in one without giving up themselves. What good is a relationship in which you’ve given yourself away so dramatically that you cannot be you in the relationship?
What steps can you take to be sure you create a great relationship without giving you up?
DON’T TAKE YOUR PARTNER’S POINT OF VIEW PERSONALLY.
What if their opinion was just their opinion, an expression of them being them, without having anything to do with you?
My husband, for example, loves riding motorcycles. It brings him a joy he finds nowhere else. I find them terrifying. He is smart enough not to expect me to jump on the back with him, and I am happy for him to have his bike and ride it.
At the same time, I let him know my point of view. When he rode down the hill from our house with our then 8-year-old son on the back, I let him know that he was riding off with everything in the world that was most important to me. I just said it once, and I said it without force or drama. I was letting him know my point of view, without asking him to change his.
CONSIDER HOW WHAT YOU SAY WILL AFFECT YOUR RELATIONSHIP BEFORE YOU SAY IT.
Does my husband do things that are annoying? Of course. But before I say anything about those socks lying around on the floor of the bedroom, looking like they have a life of their own because they still conform to the shape of his foot, I look at whether I really want to pollute the air between us with a complaint. Usually it’s enough to remind myself it’s not worth wasting my time or breath on.
I am sure I give him plenty of things to complain about as well. I figure if I complain less, so will he.
And, if something really bothers me, of course I will say something. I suspect because I complain about him so rarely, when I do, I will have his attention.
EXPRESS YOUR GRATITUDE AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE.
One of the things that waters the flower in your relationship is gratitude. Can anyone express or receive too much of this magic elixir?
Judgment—your point of view that your partner is somehow wrong—is a relationship killer. Gratitude and judgment cannot exist in the same universe. The more gratitude you have, the less real, relevant, and common your judgments will be.
Gratitude can be for actions large or small. The more you have and the more you sincerely express, the better your relationship will be.
USE QUESTIONS, NOT COMMANDS OR DEMANDS, OR ACCUSATIONS.Do you enjoy being told what to do? Neither does almost anyone else. We’re all 2 year olds at heart, and when someone tells us what to do, our gut reaction is to dig our heels in and refuse. Whenever you make a statement about what your partner should do, that’s an order or command. It’s not likely to be well-received. Any statement that starts with “You always….” Is an accusation.
On the other hand, if you ask a question, you create an opening to hear from your partner. Their point of view, while different from yours, could be equally valid and even eye-opening.
Some useful questions are, “Was there a reason you chose x?” “How do you think we could accomplish x (whatever outcome you desire)?” “What would it take for x to occur?” These questions can create a dialog where both of your points of view can be heard and valued.
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