Couples that feel stuck and wanting change in their relationship are often also experiencing emotional pain. Until the pain is fully recognized, experienced, and released, the couple will likely remain stuck. What makes matters worse is that we can use our “stuckness” as a weapon in our relationships. We can dig in our heels hoping to make our partner feel the same pain we are feeling. Sound familiar? If it does, know that you are not alone. It’s a thing. None of us feels good about it, and we all do it – granted, some more than others.
Ok. So, what would it take to stop weaponizing being stuck? What would it take to stop either yourself or your partner from yelling from the rooftop, “I’m not going to budge, and you can’t make me!”
Often, it takes either asking for or offering forgiveness, and sometimes both.
It’s important to realize that although you may be in pain, you are always at choice in how you want to respond to that pain. Experiencing the pain is a good place to start – you can’t release it unless you experience it.
It’s what happens next that is critical to moving your relationship forward. You can continue to choose to hold on to it (keeping the pain alive, hurting you and your relationship) or you can look to forgive or ask for forgiveness.
We might withhold forgiveness because it makes us vulnerable to being hurt or betrayed again. If we keep the other person on edge or feeling guilty, at least we are in control. And….stuck in a relationship unable to change.
We might not ask for forgiveness because it makes us vulnerable to being rejected. If we choose to stay safe, at least we are in control. And, you guessed it, our relationship remains stuck.
If you don’t forgive or ask for forgiveness, you will live in a perpetual state of limbo never really knowing if you can trust your partner or yourself again. A relationship can’t move forward if there is no trust. If you forgive and are hurt again or ask for forgiveness and rejected, at least you will know what is real and where each of you stand. You’ll have more information about your relationship than you had before. You’ll be in a better place to decide what you want to do next.
Do you want a relationship where you know what is real or a relationship where you are afraid to find out?
If you forgive and your forgiveness is honored or you ask for forgiveness and you are forgiven, the grip of pain you have been experiencing will start to release. You will become unstuck and be able to move your relationship forward. Forgiveness will open up space to dream big again and the possibility to turn some of those dreams into reality.
So, you’re in a relationship that’s stuck. Take a moment to slow down. Deep breaths help. Take three slow ones right now. Where’s the pain point that’s blocking change? What might you be ready to forgive? Where might you need to ask for forgiveness?
Find out what’s real. Get moving again. Or, stay stuck in the safety of not knowing.
The choice is yours.
People get into long-term relationships for all kinds of reasons. Some want stability and predictability. Some want to be wanted or needed. Some do it for the money. Some do it to have kids. Some are swept away by the fantasy of who they want their partner to be.
There’s nothing wrong with any particular reason for being in a relationship if both people are happy. Problem is, for most people, getting in a relationship for any of the above reasons doesn’t generally lead to happiness.
So, what’s the golden ticket?
Couples that have the most satisfying and energized relationships support each other’s growth AND commit to creating life together. It’s ironic and sad to witness individuals who actually stop growing as soon as their relationships begin. And, if you stop growing as an individual, there is no way your relationship can grow.
Relationships that don’t grow feel tired, old, and stagnant. Some folks settle for that and that’s ok. Others don’t. If you’re not into settling, read on.
Couples that are in vibrant relationships get curious when one of them is up to something new. Maybe it’s exploring a career change, a new interest in art, a pull towards spiritual growth, learning to race cars. Whatever IT is, couples in a healthy relationship cheer each other on, they get behind each other’s dreams.
Couples that give each other full permission to explore and live their individual passions, honor each other’s freedom. When we feel free as individuals in our relationships, we are much more likely to want to create life together with our partner. And, if we’re not creating life together, why be in a relationship? Creativity thrives in freedom. Creativity dies in the resentment and distrust that so often arises when we hold on too hard to our partners out of fear that we might lose them.
The key to this freedom and creativity stuff is responsibility. What does responsibility have to do with freedom????? Well, everything! Responsibility is our ability to respond. The more ability to respond we have, the more freedom.
In our current lives. where “Busy” ain’t going away, couples that want to have a dynamic, fulfilling relationship need to make a conscious choice to start creating one together. They need to choose to take responsibility for their relationships. No one else will.
Couples need to set aside time to create new ways forward together. They need to explore each other’s values and look to create experiences that they can enjoy together. They need to prioritize setting aside time to have fun, together! You see, joy and fun are essential pieces of the puzzle. Too often, joy and fun get left until the time we finish…….which, without taking responsibility, never arrives.
Take an honest look at your relationship. (Yup, that’s part of the responsibility thing.) Is your partner resisting your growth? Are you holding your partner back? What’s the motivation? Fear of loss. Fear that one or both of you may find something better “out there?” Invite your partner into a discussion where you ask each other these questions. Where might you each be willing to give each other more freedom to grow? Then ask, what is something new we want to create together in our life? It could be redesigning a room, planning a trip, cooking a meal together, joining a hiking group together, meditating together, reading to each other…..
The list is only limited by the freedom you are willing to bring to the conversation. Enjoy! And, let us know how this goes.
Howard Stanten MPT,CPCC is an Executive Leadership and Professional