Despite the abundance of literature on self-acceptance and loving oneself, your most important relationship is NOT with yourself. If you want to be successful in business and in life, you must invest in your relationship with your significant other and achieve success in marriage.
If you happen to work with your partner, as I do, this is even more critical: discord in your primary relationship will have a direct effect on the business and prevent you from focussing on your shared goals. (And if you are single, the principles below can be applied to any relationship when conflict arises)
Does this sound familiar?
Things have been going great in your relationship for weeks when all of a sudden you do something completely innocuous that your partner finds completely annoying, which causes them to get a little short with you. Then, instead of letting it slide like you almost ALWAYS do, you think NO – this must not stand, and you demand the respect you deserve.
As things quickly escalate you go – in the space of 2 minutes – from thinking you have a pretty good relationship to wondering why you ever got into a relationship with this INSANE person.
But fortunately, still being the highly emotionally evolved person that you are, you have the good sense to remove yourself from the situation before things veer completely off the rails.
Once you’ve gotten over the initial anger and hurt, try to put things into perspective and remind yourself of what’s been going on. Every partnership has its rough spots, so if you’re ever having a day where thoughts of divorce or breakup dominate, try to keep the following ideas in the back of your mind. They’ll help you accelerate the process of getting back into your relationship and achieve success in marriage, rather than wandering alone in the wilderness.
ONE: You’ve have definitely been triggered
No matter how righteous you may feel in the moment, something your spouse said or did has triggered an unresolved emotional hurt in you that has nothing to do with them. It is likely related to a traumatic event or pattern of behavior that you experienced in your childhood. See if you can think of any specific incidents from your past that brought up a similar feeling.
If there is something that was particularly traumatic for you, find a therapist or an emotionally mature friend who knows how to listen to help you work through it. Both individual or couples therapy can be effective for uncovering and healing the past wounds that are having an effect on your current relationship.
TWO: Try to own your contribution to the conflict
It’s possible that your spouse really was a little insensitive or selfish, but there is no reward in that line of thought. First, give yourself some time to cool down and get immersed in the other things going on in you life. Then go back and look at your own behavior. IS there anything you said, did or thought during the confrontation that you regret, or that may not have been coming from your most loving self?
This is the place to start your next conversation with your partner when you are ready. Just state an apology for your part in the conflict without any “but” or mention of your spouse’s behavior. Then pause and give your partner space to speak if they’re ready. If they’re not, don’t make them wrong, Everyone has their own process and timeline. They’ll likely come around soon enough.
If you do find they’re reconciliatory, you can go deeper by talking about the hurt you experienced that triggered your outburst. Frame it in the context of “When you say/do that, it makes me feel this”. Again. don’t make them wrong. This is your opportunity to be vulnerable by letting them know what’s going on with you.
THREE: You can either be right – or you can be happy
I find this idea useful because it paints the choice in such obvious terms. The longer I hold on to the need to be right in my relationship, the longer I am keeping the possibility of love and happiness out of my life.
Marriage is humbling and difficult at times, but that’s what gives it meaning and purpose. I’ve made a lifelong commitment to another person, so there are times when I have to put their needs before my own. This is the essence of maturity: feeling one way but deciding to act another.
With a set of mental tools in place, even when you are in the midst of a stand-off, there’s a part of you that knows and trusts your higher ideals and that you DO love your partner enough to get through any relationship conflicts and achieve success in marriage.