by Cynthia M. Braden, MFT
Did this sneak up suddenly, out of nowhere? Or maybe you're like a frog in boiling water. The water heats up… and you don’t notice anything has changed until it's boiling and you've been cooked!
Old relationship attitudes and behaviors must be changed. Oops, I hate the word 'must' and I don't like to tell people what to do. I do like to tell the truth though, and your attitude toward the person is the first thing that needs to be changed if you are unhappy in your relationship.
How can I do that!?
You don't understand!
She is doing ____, _____ and _____!
And Not doing ___ ____ ____ and ____!!
Okay. You feel angry, frustrated, confused, afraid maybe even disgusted or vengeful. These thoughts and emotions often permeate your consciousness (and your physiology) when you think about her.
Realize that you have a choice to focus your attention on what it is that you love and appreciate about her. Just as she is. With all her imperfections.
How can I do that!
You don't understand!
I know it's bad sometimes. She can be incredibly difficult and unreasonable.
Seriously, can you tell me a couple of things you appreciate about her?
If you want, take a few moments to write something down.
I hear crickets…
You just told me everything she does wrong. Tell me what you love and appreciate about her. If you have a hard time thinking of anything, maybe it's time for a separation.
You don't understand! The kids, the house, the money, the big screen TV!
Okay. You won't die. Sometimes it makes things better. Things move in a different direction. The old relationship is dead anyway.
If the idea of separating makes you sick, let's continue.
So, number one, notice something you like that she brings into your life.
Number two, say it!
Thanks for ____, I like that, it makes me feel good.
This may seem hard or weird, but it's super easy and doesn't cost you anything. You can re-create an amazing positive feedback loop.
How to save a relationship, one interaction at a time
Each and every time you interact with her, you have a chance:
To listen... or justify, defend and explain yourself,
To express criticism or appreciation.
To help her or hurt her.
To know that she is doing the best she can from where she's at right now.
It's your choice. And in each and every moment you are choosing the type of relationship you are in the process of creating.
If you are giving attention and appreciation, affection will return! Isn't that good news?
If you practice giving her your attention and appreciating what she brings into your life, this relationship will improve. Affection will return if you are patient and consistent in your attention and appreciation without demanding. Avoid noticing the things you think are wrong.
If you do it for a day or a week and say,
'This doesn't work, I didn’t get what I wanted!"
Then you need to understand that this is what you have created, and it's going to take more time to unravel.
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