I’ve been getting some great responses to my last blog post. Thanks to everyone who’s cross-posted them or commented on Facebook, etc.
Here’s the next bunch:
Find ways to be genuinely supportive and uplifting toward one another, especially when times are tough.
While this sounds like a given, it’s not as easy as you’d think. When times are tough for someone we love, they can be morose and sad and not fun to be around and it makes it difficult to be present for them when you’d really rather be out with friends at happy hour. Staying present and connected at times like this takes work.
Here are a few things that you can try to to assist those we love during rough times. Listen without comment or judgement. Just being present can be enough. If appropriate, have physical contact with them. It can be very comforting to have someone just hold your hand and look at you when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the world. Distract them with something fun and easy, like a trip to the zoo or dinner out. Nothing that takes a lot of thought or effort. Just a bit of distraction.
At the same time, be aware that you need to make your boundaries known. It’s one thing to be there for someone you love and it’s another for them to walk all over you and bring you down to their level. If they are intent on staying down and want you to join them, lovingly and firmly decline. Offer to assist them in finding someone professional to talk to or to find a way to get out of whatever situation they may be in that is getting them down. We can’t “fix” our loved ones, we can only assist them in finding ways to heal themselves
Keep a sense of humor when working out differences of opinion.
If one loses their sense of humor, the other should be forgiving.
A sense of humor will get you a long way in a relationship. It was one of the main things that kept Steve and I going when we were dealing with the end of our marriage. I truly believe that people who laugh together and those who can find the ridiculousness and silliness in most any situation will survive with flying colors. Sometime, in the midst of a heated discussion, pointing out the irony of something said or whimsy of a particular point of view can dispel hard feelings before they become entrenched. An argument that ends in laughter no longer is an argument. It becomes something else.
Of course, there are times that no matter how silly or funny to you the situation is, your partner’s sense of humor disappears. Then it’s important to step back, accept that they are not going to see it your way and forgive them for being entrenched in whatever is going on. Being willing to come from a place of forgiveness during times of disagreement and losses of sens of humor can be very beneficial to the relationship.
If one gets out of line, the other should be firm but forgiving, and the one out of line should acknowledge the infraction when it is pointed out.
Balancing firmness with forgiveness isn’t easy but is important when dealing with issues that come up in relationships. We all get out of line at times. We forget our agreements and we treat those we love with less then loving attention. We throw tantrums. We cry. We scream. We fuck up. And a loving partner will be firm in their communication that the tantrums, crying, screaming etc. is not appropriate nor is it furthering the conversation. And at the same time they will affirm their love for you and let you know that there will be no repercussions for your lapse in behavior. And when that is pointed out to you, it’s your cue to set back and take a look at what it was that triggered you into throwing that tantrum. While we would like to think otherwise, we have 100% control over our behavior and no one made us throw that tantrum or scream those obscenities. Those were our choices. Letting the person you love know that you realize you were out of line and thanking them for being willing to point it out can open a whole new arena for discussion and forward movement.
Of course if a partner is continually repeating bad behavior then that becomes another issue. Either some how they are getting rewarded for their bad behavior so they keep at it and you need to figure out what the reward is and stop it. Or there is something more serious going on and then maybe it is time to talk to someone professionally.
Nagging is only allowed if done with humor and goodwill.
Nagging has a bad rap. Sometimes a little nagging will get a loved one off their ass and on to bigger and better things (it was nagging that got me to finally start blogging and working on my book). However nagging with love, humor and goodwill is really just good-natured reminding. Good-natured reminding is best when doesn’t start with “you said you would . . .” Finding non verbal ways to remind them of their agreements and the things they’ve forgotten works even better. You might leave them a note written in the grime on mirror the said they would clean, with a “Clean Me my love” and a smiley face. If they are forgetting their agreements with you as to what they are going to do that week or that month, make it easy by sharing Google calendar or having a to-do list on the wall in the kitchen were they’ll see it.