The Mindfulness Center Florida is now offering telehealth virtually throughout the entire state.
Relationships are all around us – at home, at work, in your neighborhood, with yourself, or with a higher power. And, let’s be honest, none of us went to school to learn how to be great at building and maintaining relationships. Oftentimes, we build our relationships based on the way we witnessed relationships form and function throughout our upbringing.
Oftentimes, we hear from couples that they have a hard time communicating or that they don’t feel connected to their partner anymore. This could be after dating for a year or two, or after being married for 20 years. Relationships take work and attention. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you’ll be happily married. It helps when we are intentional and mindful of HOW we are in relationship with others. And oftentimes this comes from knowing ourselves and our audience.
We do this frequently when we are at work, with our neighbors, and are in public. We know it works well for us to address others in a certain way – with respect, kindness, consideration, and expecting them to listen. We choose to know our audience and be intentional and mindful about how we approach someone so our message is best received. Sure, we often choose certain words to get our points across but we often focus more on the delivery of our words.
This is called our non-verbal communication. 90+% of what we communicate is our non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is our:
- Tone of Voice
- Volume of Voice
- Facial Expressions
- Hand Movements
- Body Posture
If you get loud and big, puffing up your chest, wide-eyed, flailing your arms and screaming at your partner, “I. LOVE. YOU!” then you are communicating something different that if you gently held your partners hands, look them in the eyes softly and whisper, “I love you.” You are saying the exact same words, however they have a different message based on your delivery.
What is common with couples is that we often point the finger toward our partner and say, “If only you would do ______ differently, then I would be happy.” A relationship, or marriage, is like a machine, a system. When all the parts of the machine, or system, are well maintained and oiled and working well, the machine runs smoothly. When a part of the machine is worn down or worn out it has an effect on the rest of the machine and how well it works.
For relationships to work well, we need each part of the machine to be working from their most optimal place. When working with couples, we encourage each person to take a look at their own participation in the relationship, the machine, to see what isn’t working as well as it could that they have control over.
We encourage each person in the relationship to find their happiness and fulfillment for themselves, from within and from other sources, and not always ONLY within the relationship. It can be difficult to have one part of the machine over perform for the other parts to keep it working well. At some point, that part of the machine will wear out and need to be rebuild or even replaced.
We are mindful of our tone and intensity of voice in most situations, so why not do this with our partners?
All relationships – especially our romantic ones – experience conflict from time to time. Sometimes issues are easily worked through, and sometimes it takes an objective third party to help you understand what’s really going on and how to get through it.
Oftentimes the issues in a relationship are perpetual issues – they’re never going away. Instead, you and your partner have to figure out how to best manage these perpetual issues in a way that works for both of you.
Sometimes the issues we face in relationships are a result of pent up irritability, frustration, and anger that we ultimately become resentful about. Relief and true connection can take place when both parties share their grievances, the origins of the grievances are better understood, and a new plan is put in place to manage these patterns of behavior when they begin to pop up again.
Oftentimes when people point the finger at their partner or spouse, wanting them to do something different, it’s the perfect platform for learning more about yourself.
- What has made you frustrated with the other’s behavior?
- What is that behavior bringing up for you?
- Does it remind you of something your mother or father said or did when you were growing up?
Grievances about another person is the perfect opportunity for exploring yourself and gaining deeper self-awareness.
And let’s not forget all that is good in our relationships. Sometimes we focus solely on the negative aspects of our relationships because they hurt the most or make the most “noise” and get our attention. When we shift our focus and begin listing all the good things, this can put the not-so-good things into better perspective.
Or perhaps you’re deciding to end a relationship and you want to know how to do that well.
You may be at a crossroads in your relationship where you’re asking questions like, “Is this all there is?” And, “Is this the best I can do?” Or, “Do I have to put up with this behavior?” These are tough questions to answer and even tougher to navigate alone or with family and friends. Talking to family and friends my reduce your confidentiality and leave you with a lot of opinions. Megan taught a University of Texas Informal Class in Austin, Texas called “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” and has worked with individuals and couples who are asking themselves this question. We’d be happy to talk with you to help you decide what’s best for you and your situation.