Did you miss me? Sorry for not writing sooner. I had a chance to take a couple short trips and haven’t had much time to write. My first trip was to Birmingham, Alabama. What a great kinky sex-positive community they have and I had a blast visiting and teaching at The Red Chair. Last weekend I got to go to Portland and teach a few classes for Catalyst. Another awesome sex-positive space. I’m so fortunate.
Anyway, on to the next steps in Happy Endings.
Last entry I talked about the first five principles and how they contribute to your relationship. So, how do they contribute to ending or as I prefer to say, transforming your relationship? If you’ve created a relationship based on agreements like the principles (you get to choose what those agreements are and how they are implemented) then when things are in flux and relationships are transitioning, using the principles become more natural and easier to navigate. The important part of this is that they should be how you define your relationship when it’s going great and when it’s not.
So, how do the first 5 agreements contribute to transitioning relationships?
No surprises are allowed –(Except surprise parties and scenes and gifts and cards and that kind of fun stuff).
Make clear agreements on what each person is supposed to do.
Each person should be clear about their intentions.
Each person should be clear about their expectations of the other.
No secrets or secret agendas are allowed.
It’s easy when things are going south to become secretive and non-communicative. These agreements, if lived by, will hopefully help forestall secrets and surprises that could further damage your efforts to have a positive and healthy ending to a relationship. And if you are living by the agreements about being clear or you intentions and expectations then there will be little confusion to what is going on as the relationship transitions. You’ll hopefully still have good communications and clarity around agreements on how you are going to talk about the changes you are going through with others and how you will be treating each other as you work through the painful minutia that goes with relationships ending.
The next five principles.
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 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 sense 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 than 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.
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. Little notes and event texts can be easier than face to face confrontations.
These five agreements are key to creating a positive outcome during relationship transitions. Remembering that even when you’re angry with them and they are being stubborn about something (like how to deal with Aunt Martha’s china during the divorce) you can still love them and treat them with dignity and respect. Seldom do we fall completely out of love with the person we’re leaving. It’s generally way more complicated than that. Remembering to come from a loving and giving place, during all interactions can make the process so much easier.
Being supportive of your soon to be former partner is imperative to a healthy transition. Keeping your sense of humor may seem difficult; however laughter is very healing and finding humor in all if it can be very beneficial. And it’s very easy to get emotional and overwrought during the process of transitioning so along with humor always coming from a loving place can be so rewarding. And it’s not as hard as you thing, IF you start your relationship with these principles in mind. Many times if your way of being becomes a habit, then it will be easier to retain the principles during hard times, even when those hard times are at the end of the relationship.
Next, the final principles.
Have a great day!