You may not have expected to meet change, or be challenged, in your relationship. Things you don’t expect can be scary and may have thrown you off your center. When you meet challenges in your relationships, you have a choice: you can run, you can collapse under the weight of your discomfort and shut down, or you can choose to work through the adversity you’re facing.
We all start relationships of any sort—whether friendships, a family of origin/choice, romantic relationships, or even work relationships—with a certain amount of optimism and hope. As different factors come up unexpectedly in relationships like loss or betrayal – this can change the climate of the relationship. As the climate changes and our feelings of optimism are replaced with a spectrum of unwanted emotion: rage, sadness, apathy – our behavior can become unrecognizable to the person we want to be. This subtle or dramatic change in the wrong direction of our intimate relationships can produce unintended consequences. This shift in the optimism of the climate in the relationship with unwanted loss or conflict may have dramatically harmed other important areas of your life.
Wisdom to know the difference
Learning when to accept the things you cannot change in the relationship when to summon the courage to change what you can, and accessing the wisdom to know the difference – is the serenity prayer. This prayer includes asking when to leave a relationship and it is one of the most important answers and decisions that only you can and will ever make in this one life we are all given and choose to share with a few precious people.
Creating balance in your life and your relationships
At their most basic, relationships are about balance. If you’re struggling with your relationship at the moment, it’s likely because it’s out of balance—and that can actually be a good thing. You can’t have light without darkness, you can’t experience peace, joy and fulfillment without experiencing strife, sadness and lack. Bringing your relationship back into balance is not about fixing something that’s broken, it’s about embracing both sides of a whole and bringing them together.
With that in mind, when you ignore or over-focus on real or perceived negatives in a relationship, it can distort or erase the known or perceived positives. This distortion can cloud our decision-making process, inner wisdom and leave us feeling lost. No matter the literal or functional fault in the relationship, when someone feels lost, disconnected, undervalued, or a liability – the system will eventually correct its imbalance.
Broadening our perspective on relationships
This reconciliation in ourselves or the relationship might cost more than it adds during the season in life we are in. Relationship conflict invites us to slow down the asking and answering of when it’s wise to abandon, or slowly end the relationship. Through slowing down we may find it wise to compromise amidst the friction, conflict, and discord of the relationship toward connection, faith, and harmony.
With help, when new conflict visits us, we can pause and decide what to do. With practice and time we can choose how to navigate conflict in a romantic relationship after building and following “love maps”. Love Maps are a foundation of Gottman’s theory and suggest the more each person learns about their partner and their own love map, the stronger, more resilient and satisfying the relationship will be. As new levels of skill are reached and contributions made to the relationship during seasons of difficulty, conflict and peace – hope may appear as the quality of the relationship and life improves.
Pain’s grip can change with balance
Over time and practice, we may find the grip of fear, hate, betrayal, rage, apathy – loosen. This grip of pain on our hearts changing allows for each other and the relationship to heal. When each person in the relationship has an opportunity to regain a balance of a voice, power, trust, love, changed behavior, and connection, it allows a balanced foundation for thriving and sharing life.
The heart of this re-balancing relies on awareness, communication, and choice. The two people in the relationship need to choose to either lean in or out of the relationship eventually. Leaning in involves communicating in a way that breaks down the barriers they have created or that have landed on them, forges a new reality and a new relationship, or drastically changes or ends the relationship. This means also choosing transparency, authenticity, honesty, and a wise, aware willingness to exercise empathy—and even compassion—with one another when deeply hurt and in low trust.
Equanimity in relationship difficulty
If you find yourself struggling with your relationships—at home, in your family, with your friends, or at work—taking a step back may help you. This broadening of our perspective through talking in therapy, writing, or other exercises may soften the fear, anger, loss, or frustration we feel so intensely and open us to listening to a painful message about a lack of balance.
We are here to provide you with an emotionally comfortable and accommodating online space to help guide you through the process of reconnection and rebuilding.