As you have developed personally, are you finding there is a relationship gap, which is causing you some worries?
2017-2018 was a period of intense, personal growth for me. And it created problems in my marriage. I didn’t know who to talk to or what to do. Thankfully, we navigated this issue and whilst it’s always a WIP, we’re in a much better place.
This is more common than you might think. And aside from the mental and emotional stress it causes, it’s also a reason many women fail to make their dreams a reality. Because they are scared of what they might lose in terms of their relationship. Let me share with you the steps that helped me.
You can blame them because they haven't changed, or you can blame you because you have. Which side of the fence do you sit on? My first tip for you is do not create space for judgement. When we start pointing fingers it is more likely to create conflict than an opportunity for greater connection.
You can be aware of “the gap” and feel dissatisfied about it. This is not about saying you must accept the circumstances as they are, but if you want to ensure that you and your partner can travel the same road, you cannot afford to play judge and jury.
What is really bugging you? Are you telling yourself it’s because they won’t read books with you?; don’t understand your language now?; spend too much time watching tv and don’t have any ambition?
Is it that you’re really scared that if this continues, you will outgrow them and won’t want to be with them anymore?
Or perhaps you are tired of having your best conversations outside of your relationship? Or maybe, your growth has highlighted things that have been niggling you for ages only now you can’t ignore it anymore?
When we are hyper focused on what’s NOT working, we can globalise it. Meaning, we can spread that sh*t over the entire relationship. We are literally on high alert for ALL the things they do/say/think that supports our deep rooted belief that our relationship is in trouble, and it’s all their fault because they just haven’t changed.
I honestly believe that personal growth does impact all of our relationships. As you start to think, communicate and act differently it is only natural to notice our relationships in new lights
It’s also normal to feel scared of your awareness that if you keep growing and they don’t, there is a risk of your relationship not surviving. So this step is REALLY important. What is it that is REALLY bothering you. Taking time to get clear here will help you not only stop the judgement, but also to realise that you play a part too!.
“I need you to do this for me/ I want you to start being more…/ You must stop….”. If you want to strengthen your relationship, don’t do this! Starting with instruction means you are back in the judgement that this is “all on them”.
Remember, you’re the one that’s been growing and changing. You’re on a two way street remember! Starting with “ambition” demands that we ask ourselves to think of THEM and their desires before we start making suggestions. Have you ever considered how scary it could be for your partner, to watch you transform in to someone totally different? Have you ever considered the fears they might not be talking about?
What’s in it For Them?
What “reward” might they get if they start making changes? What intrinsic reward might they get? Pride? Growth? Connection?... remember, it has to be a benefit they actually want. And what about extrinsic rewards? What’s a visible, tangible result they might get? More intimacy? Experiences? Money (if you’re happier at home, you are more likely to be happier and more productive at work. Could lead to a promotion?)
This will take some work
There’s some strategy going on here! You can’t just hope for the best. If it's the difference between your relationship failing or flourishing, I'm sure you can give yourself the time to think about how you can make this bridge building something you partner wants as much as you do.
You can't demand something of someone else that you are not doing consistently for yourself. When you're silently going about your stuff, doing the things that you want them to do, (but you're not instructing them) they are taking it all on. Let them see YOU benefit from the change. Better health, more success, energy, happiness. This alone may stoke their fire of greater ambition.
You don't inspire through judgment or blame. Instruction doesn’t stoke ambition. Be the light you want to see.
If you do all these things and over time, nothing seems to change, well then you have the big decision to make.
Is it that important to you that they change? Or can you accept that you chose this journey? You chose them as a partner. You're the one that's changed and you don't need them to be along for the ride. Your relationship is beautiful in so many other ways and you are happy to let it be.
Is it vitally important to you that your partner is fully engaged with you? If you feel like you’re being held back, you’re unhappy or deep down, you just know this relationship isn’t sustainable – well then you know what decision you have to make.
It May Only be Five Steps
But it’s going to take time. I can’t tell you how long – it’s your journey. When I was going through this, the breakthroughs really started when I was brutally honest with myself and realised I was being Judgey McJudge pants! I was judging, instructing and blaming it all on him.
I had to do a LOTTTTTT of letting go. And I still am. My Big Decision was that I didn’t want this to be the thing that separated us. I wanted this to be the thing that joined us. I chose to spend a lot more time focusing on inspiring through example and raising his ambition for a brighter future. And we’re still working on this together 2 years down the line. Only now it’s a joint effort and it feels good.
If you want to navigate your relationship gap, know that bridges are built from both sides.
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