Sunday, January 16, 2011

The 3,000 Mile Relationship Check-Up

Your car and your closest relationships have something in common. They each take maintenance. If you drove your car for years without changing the oil, getting it washed or taking it for factory recommended sevice,you could get stranded somewhere. Your investment in your car would be lost. While you probably don't treat your car that way(I hope!),you might be ignoring important service lights on your most important relationships. If you marry your beloved and assume things are fine because they still show up for dinner, you are making a big mistake.

It always makes me sad when couples arrive at my office too late for me to help.The resentment and hurt have built up sky high and they have no common interests. They may be ignoring each other or hiding behind the overfocus on the children.Both feel taken for granted.Nobodys' needs are being met, and the relationship can feel like co-task sharers, completely without passion and spark.How does this happen? These two people picked each other and fell in love at one time.

There is an elegantly simple and effective tool you can use to check-in on how you are doing in your relationship. You can ASK! Invite your partner on a 20-minute walk with you once a month. Ask how you are doing in the relationship with them, and if there is anything more,or different,that you can do to make them feel special to you. Then LISTEN. I suggest leaving the house and going on a walk so you can give each other your full attention,without interruption.

Arrange for the interaction to be as positive and future-oriented as possible.Try to give each other constructive feedback that gives your partner specific ideas of how to better meet your needs. For example, instead of telling your partner that they never give you attention(black/white thinking), ask them if they could send give you a hug when you get home from work, or call you once a day to say something sweet and personal. Positive and specific motivates people best. Otherwise,your partner gets discouraged, hopeless that it will ever be enough,and they suspect you are the black whole of Calcutta.

Hopefully when you offer this check-in for your partner, they will want to respond and get feedback on how they are doing with you as well. That is the desired outcome! The best relationships are when we have two caring people both striving to be undefended and open to the differences between you. Warning:it is very likely that differnt things make you feel loved(read "The 5 Love Languages").Those differences are normal.Don't belittle or judge your partners' requests.

This check-in, or callibration meeting,could have the potential power to keep your most important investment,your love relationship, on track, dynamic and alive. I believe all relationships are always changing. Why not take charge, be brave anough to be vulnerable, and challenge yourself to grow into an even more loving person and partner?Whether you try this strategy with your partner, or your child, ther is much to be gained by being open to feedback fom people who matter.When are you taking your walk?

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