Is Your Relationship Stressing You Out?

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john lennon love quoteLet’s face it; relationships can be a source of immense joy followed by bang-your-head-against-the-wall frustration. Especially in long term relationships when what started out as adorable quirks may have slowly turned into idiosyncrasies, and then aggravations, and finally potential deal-breakers that have you reading self-help books or landed you into therapy.

Relationship Challenges: Focus On Yourself First

Relationships often require us to be willing to compromise idealistic (or even realistic) expectations in order to find some middle ground from which to connect – or at the very least – call a truce.

Since it takes ‘two to tango,’ a frustrating dynamic within a relationship is rarely one person’s fault; and, since we can’t change others (unless they want to change), it’s important to focus on the part of the relationship that you have more control of – YOURSELF.

Here are 5 key relationship skills that may help you to evaluate your role in your key relationships and guide you on how to show up differently when needed.

5 Key Relationship Skills You Ought To Know

1 Be Present

Are you able to be attentive to the person when he/she is talking or are you running through your to-do list in your mind? Can you cultivate a balance between talking/sharing and listening? Ask yourself how you can honor your needs, but also honor the needs of another within conversations. 

2 Cultivate Loving Kindness

If negative self-talk is set on default in on one’s mind, often that critical view casts a net around those closest to us. It’s easy to see what’s missing in oneself or in a relationship, but what are the ways in which you can begin to appreciate the ‘good stuff’ in yourself and in others?  How can you begin to acknowledge and show appreciation for what is going well and for what you appreciate in life? What do you enjoy and rely on in those closest to you, and have you told them lately?

3 Learn to let go…

Evaluate where you need to accept rather than resist what is. This is a tough one, especially if the situation is not optimal. The harder we hold on to expectations compared to what is realistic, the harder it is to let go. Evaluate if a shift in expectations is doable.

4 Respond Instead of React

Anger is the umbrella emotion for many people and may feel safer to default to compared to the more vulnerable emotions, such as fear and sadness.

If lashing out is a knee-jerk response can you press the pause button and respond in a way that invites dialogue? Healthy self-expression — and when needed, self-assertion — invite dialogue while honoring what it is that you need in the moment.

[step]5[/step]Own What is Yours (and what is NOT)

It’s easy to point the finger at another for the source of the problem, but as I mentioned before it takes ‘two to tango’. It is important to take an honest look at what your potential contribution is FIRST before pointing the finger at someone else. Start with acknowledging and working on your part first

Even the healthiest of relationships are not without conflict – we all bring our strengths and weaknesses into connections with others, but a little self-awareness, ownership, and vulnerability can go a long way in getting more of what you need in your relationships, from yourself and from others.


2 responses to “Is Your Relationship Stressing You Out?”

  1. AmberLynn Pappas says:

    Your numbering is off here, but I will respond to your third point because I think this is a great topic! I think one thing that goes hand in hand with letting go is the idea that you have to let go of the person as they were when you first met. It’s unrealistic to expect that someone will be 100% the same for their entire life, so relationships have to grow together, accepting the newer version of the person you love. It’s a chance to find those “adorable quirks” all over again.

  2. erinfitwoman says:

    Fixed it. 🙂 Thank you…and yes, I agree with you – such an important point and one that is not always easy to honor as we grow and change. Well-said…

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About the Author

Erin Risius, MA, LPC

Erin Risius, MA, LPC, is a former program director of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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