Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Here is a relationship secret no relationship coach will openly admit to you.
Real growth is hard. All relationship therapists, counsellors and coaches know this, but let’s dig deeper….
I know, I’m supposed to tell you about how easy building your relationship is and how all of the steps can be done in a week and then charge you for a quick solution to all of your pain and frustration.
But I can’t do that because it isn’t really true.
What it takes to build something worthwhile
To build something worthwhile, valuable and viable it takes work, effort, and time.
Sure, I can throw up some old communication technique, slap some juicy content into it and tell you that this is the “magic bullet” that will fix your relationship woes. But don’t expect your partner to respect that effort and willingly engage with you in dealing with issues in this simplistic way.
When you’re building a healthy, caring relationship do you go to the relationship counsellor/coach who tells you it’s all possible in three easy sessions or to the coach with an approach which is considered, well-informed and professional? Do you go to someone who’ll give you the good but also the bad news about relationship struggles? Do you go to the relationship coach who’ll help you and your partner identify where you are and who has the skills and training to help you move towards where you’d like to be? Do you go to a coach who can help you deal with predictable relationship killers, who’ll teach you research based skills and who can help you in deliberately practicing these skills?
Growth takes work
It should not be a relationship secret that real growth is work, and building a successful relationship is work. It isn’t physically hard like digging in a garden bed. It’s hard in that it takes time and learning and it stretches you emotionally in many ways.
The emotional part is sometimes your biggest obstacle. Once you start to grow, and your relationship starts to grow, you’ll need to leave your comfort zone and move into your learning (stretch) zone. A well-trained relationship counsellor will help you do this is an informed way and help you stay out the of the panic zone. An experienced couples coach will guide you through experiencing your emotions while learning new skills so that you’ll increase the chances of your partner sitting up and paying attention to you.
Work brings change and growth
Some of what you do will change the relationship dynamic between you – the ways that you’ve been acting and reacting to each other. Some of what you’ll be doing your partner may love and other things you’ll be doing your partner won’t like at all. Your emotional reactions and their emotional reactions to these changes will be a challenge. You’ll need to work hard at learning new ways to manage and regulate your emotions in the face of their emotions.
To work on yourself and on your relationship means “growing up” or developing in ways that those who don’t emotionally stretch themselves never get to do. To grow in this way, you’ll be challenged to learn to trust yourself, your decisions, and your innate strengths so as to claim your power.
This means authentic power, not stand-over tactics. When your partner questions your plans, efforts and intentions, you need to know deep down that you are doing what is right for you, your partner and your relationship. This will require getting to know your authentic emotions and learning to stand by them, even in the face of your partner’s reactions. It will require learning to listen to your partner’s emotions and not to take them personally. It will require learning to deal with conflict in more constructive ways, learning to negotiate, to put jointly-made decisions into action and to review them after a short time to see if they need changing again.
Sometimes there is crying
I fully own the fact that in my first attempts at growing in my relationship using these methods, I cried. Maybe not every day, but frequently enough. Sometimes it was out of fear, other times frustration, often it was from exhaustion. Many times it was because I kept coming up against my core belief that if my partner would change, our relationship would be happy. This is a big relationship secret that needs to be exposed. You can’t change your partner, but you can influence your partner by changing yourself.
By taking responsibility to change myself and my own emotional reactions, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone (and that of my partner) into my learning zone. And I did this with the support of a wonderful relationship counsellor. It was hard work.
But, working on your relationship pays off
The work was totally worth every effort and moment of overwhelm. It paid off in that I became clearer about myself, my values and what both my partner and I wanted to achieve together in our relationship while working as a team. Since that time, I’ve never looked back and continue to challenge myself to grow and be more flexible in my emotional responses. This is what gives me the lived experience to be able to support you in achieving what you want in and for your relationship.
But it wasn’t an easy, smooth road and it took years to get to this place. Some of the secrets that I learnt were tough. Because, when you work on yourself and on your relationship, it takes time to trust that repeated and consistent efforts to manage emotional reactions do eventually bring about beneficial results. It takes trial and error and energy to work out new, innovative ways to respectfully deal with your own and your partner’s feelings.
Not everyone wants to do this work
This work isn’t right for everyone, and that’s a fact. Not everyone is interested in working on themselves or on their relationship. There are many myths about long-term relationships. It’s a common, yet misguided belief shared by many, that if a relationship is the “right one” it should “feel right” most of the time. Unfortunately, this amounts to believing that your partner is the source of these “good feelings”, so that if you feel bad, they are responsible for making you feel better.
It’s common to believe that if they did or said what you want them to, in the way you want them to, the relationship would “feel” good again and you’d be happy. One thing you don’t realise is they’re wanting the same thing from you! It’s a no-win situation.
Unless any of the three A’s, the red flag warning signs are present, unmanaged addictions, anger (untreated mental health issues) or ongoing affairs, one of my personal strategies, hint “secrets”, for making relationships successful is this: keep going. Yep, that’s it. Just keep moving with and through despite your emotional ups and downs and those of your partner. No relationship secret right? But that’s really what it takes to grow a successful relationship. I encourage you to honour your authentic (not reactive) feelings and learn to honour your partner’s authentic feelings, and to keep going with and through them. It takes teamwork to manage emotional pain.
You deserve the best trained relationship coaches if you’re planning to invest time and money in your relationship. If you’re not ready to book an appointment, call us on 0421 961 687 to book a FREE 15 minute phone consultation to discuss how we may be able to assist you.