I know everyone has at least one relationship in their life where they realize that maybe they could’ve been more present or loving. I’m sure each one of you have one point in their life where they feel that maybe they could’ve been a better lover to their partner, myself included. For whatever reason, we just didn’t give 110%.
Maybe, we felt that we were not being treated well or fairly by our partner. Maybe there was something that happened. Perhaps, it was some sort of breach of trust. Whether our love cheated on us or didn’t stand up for us, or even just continued to not take our feelings into account or they were too bossy. They might have spoken down to us, or treated us in a disrespectful manner. It happens. It doesn’t make it right, but it happens.
So then, how can we make ourselves a better partner to the one we love? How do we fix a relationship where the communication or bond has broken down? Is there any hope once the trust is broken? Is there any chance for amends after infidelity? Can we teach our partner to respect our feelings? What, if anything, can be done?
First off, we need to sit and look inward and be 100% honest with ourselves. We must ask ourselves a few key things:
⦁ Are we truly invested in the relationship and do we love this person? Are we in love with them?
⦁ To what degree are we willing to make compromises and/or sacrifices to make it work?
⦁ To what degree are we willing to make compromises and/or sacrifices to make it work?
⦁ If we are the one who broke trust, or otherwise caused disrespect or heartache; are we willing to jump through whatever hoops it takes to earn that trust or bond back again?
⦁ If we are the one who was wronged, are we capable of forgiving our partner fully and accepting that it happened, moving forward and trusting that it will not happen again?
⦁ Lastly though of no less importance, Are we safe in the relationship? Are we in danger of abuse in any form whether it be physical, emotional, or the worst, in my opinion, narcissistic abuse?
In order for things to work out, we need to be fully invested in the relationship. We must take the time to listen to the wants, needs, and feelings of the other. We must make absolutely certain that the relationship is worth the hardships to come and that we’re not just opening ourselves up for more heartache.
Furthermore, we have got to be willing to make compromises and concessions where appropriate. By no means, should we sacrifice any part of our dignity, safety, or our core beliefs unless we find them to be antiquated or otherwise unhealthy!
As a willing partner in a relationship, we ought to be able to make amends and apologize when we are wrong. If we are not willing to do the work then we do not deserve the grace of the one we wish to be with. Whether it be forgiving and trying to move past our differences or apologizing and making adequate amends, we have to be willing and able to do what is required to work towards healing the relationship.
If one or both partners feel unsafe in the relationship and no dialogue is possible, we must then part ways and move along. It does neither party a service to stay in an unsafe environment. We have to love ourselves first, and be mindful of our own well-being, but that does not mean we are selfish. We must think this way because, if we are unable to love and care for ourselves, then how can we ever expect to truly love another or let another love us.
Self-care & self-love are vital to a healthy relationship. When we care for ourselves, it shows that we are willing to do what it takes to appease our significant other because we’ve prepared ourselves to be loved. We have taken the time to learn the things we think, feel, want, and need. In other words, we can then properly give of ourselves without hesitation or confusion of our own personal boundaries.
One of the biggest tenants of self-care is knowing when someone has crossed those boundary lines, and how to take appropriate action. If we do not know where our limits are, how would anyone else? If we’ve not taken the time to get to know the real us then how could another?
So, once we’ve done our preparation we may begin to attempt to build or rebuild said bonds of the relationship anew. But how? If so much has happened up till now, how do we open the dialogue towards healing?
This is tricky as it requires both people to be open and ready, willing and able. Any relationship that is one-sided will never work. And, it is only when both are prepared and ready that they may come together in a positive manner and work in unison to fix the problems that plague them.
However, if both sides have done their homework at this point, the conversation should flow like a slow moving stream, calm and serene. If they have not, the raging rapids that ripped the union in two could very well return and history will repeat itself.
Often times, when we say to our loved one we may use phrases like, “You did this.” Or, “It’s your fault!” And “You make me angry!”
These statements are not only abrasive and hurtful, they are also incorrect. True, the actions or words of another may hurt our feelings or allow us to feel insulted, but truly it is our own identifying with the truth to these statements. Perhaps, there is weight to the words our significant other has said in anger or maybe not.
However, if we wish to maintain a positive dialogue, we can choose our words more carefully. We can instead choose to use phrases such as, “When you say these things, I feel insulted.” Or, “I feel the action you chose was hurtful.” And, ” I feel angry because…”
By altering the way we word the things we mean to convey and being mindful of our emotional response to the actions and words of another we can remove the aggressive nature of the former way of saying the same thing. By removing the accusations and blame placing, we take the sting out of our communication. This way we can facilitate an open and honest line of communication.
Think about it, which manner of speaking would you prefer to be spoken to in? Can you see now how the emphasis on the word “YOU” places undue stress and blame on the other party? If we slow down our responses and remain conscious of the words we choose by imagining someone saying the words we’re about to say to us and how that would make us feel, we can choose a better path of communication.
Softer words do not weaken our right to feel upset. Nor do they give up any of our power or basic respect. As long as our feelings are appropriately proportioned to the level of aggression and intent to hurt, we’re probably safe. Though, we still need to keep our head on straight and be aware of our responses.
In kind, if we are the first to speak and we are mindful of our accusations and our tone and the words we use, we can diffuse the confrontation up front. Now then, If we approach our partner with respect and dignity and avoid the “you” pitfall, in most instances, our other half will follow suit and respond in a kinder gentler way.
Once the conversation is happening and agreements or concessions have been made, now comes the hardest part of mending the rift. We have to hold true to what we’ve agreed on. It doesn’t matter whether we vowed to do something or even not to do specific things, in order for trust to be rebuilt we have to follow through with those promises.
If we agreed to quit drinking and a few days later we stop off at the bar after work, or we agree to be mindful of how much we criticize our partner and then the next day we’re right back on their shoulder nitpicking, now we have broken a very fresh and very fragile bond of trust. This can be catastrophic to a healing process as it causes our love to recoil in fear of the backslide into old habits.
In the same vein, if we promise to help out around the house more, or get a better paying job to help support the household and we get fired or quit and then lay around doing nothing at all, this too causes a rift in the agreed upon arrangement.
Often times, the infraction may be small but the backlash could be major. Our mate might be upset and rightfully so. We’ve not kept our part of the bargain and soiled our validity and reliability. So you see, no matter which end of the agreement we end up on it is quintessential to keep our word and follow the recourse we agreed upon. We are only as good as our word, and that is only as good as our actions.
When the shit hits the fan and after every reasonable effort has been made, if nothing has been fixed we need to know when to cut the cord and walk away. Continuing to bash our head against the same brick wall does nothing but deepen the bruise. You are a soft amalgam of organic material with your emotions and self-respect, and the issues that formed that impenetrable wall unresolved will win every time.
So, how do we know when it’s time to stick a proverbial fork in it and call it done? When the risk of being hurt is no longer worth the reward it is time to wave the white flag and move on. However, this does not give us license to be abusive or condescending to our failed partnership. We can walk away with our head held high.
There’s no honor in staying where we should not stay. In that same sense, there is no honor in publicly humiliating our former lover. The gossips will do enough talking without us adding fuel to the fire. Just because that person wasn’t right for us doesn’t mean they are a horrible person. It simply means that for whatever reasoning, the match is no longer a healthy fit. In reality, maybe it never was.
True this doesn’t make the end any easier. We can feel as though we’ll never love again, never trust again but we will. Time heals all wounds, the cliche is true. The best course of action to end things amicably is to compliment as much as we criticize, apologize as we wish them the very best future.
Yes, this hurts. Yes, it’s hard. But, would staying be any easier? Probably not or you’d still be together, right? Now it is time for us to do what we have to prepare ourselves for the next heart to come along. If we were to wallow in the mire of our own defeat, and close our heart off we may miss that pure loving romance that was meant for us. But there’s no rush. You’ve got to make room in your life and heart, and the only real way to do that is to learn to love yourself again.