One of the more challenging things for my relationship clients is when things simply aren’t going well. They can’t exactly put their finger on the problem, but they know that there is a disconnect somewhere in the relationship.
Arguments start that would never have happened before. Long silences happen because for some reason there is nothing to say. The natural tendency is to try to work things out, but often when you aren’t sure exactly what needs to be worked out, you could be doing the equivalent of putting a Band-aid on a bullet wound. If you can’t figure out a problem, be willing to look deeper into the root of the problem.
Step 1: Start by Listening
If we learn to hear what our mates are trying to tell us in the way in which they intend the message to be delivered, we will stay on the same page much more often and we can work through issues much quicker. Communication is a two-way street and most people feel like they are not being listened to. If you can start a conversation with, “I would like to hear what you have to say” then repeat it back to make sure you and your mate are clear—you could eliminate many of the communication road blocks you may experience.
Good communication also requires the fact that one must be considerate of their mate’s thoughts and feelings ABOVE their own. If I think of my wife first, then I listen and confirm what she has to say, we will likely get on the same page very quickly.
If we have a game plan for a business venture together, a vacation, dinner and a movie or even picking up our child from a game, we must be cognizant that we have to communicate, confirm the understanding of each other and act on it to be on the same page. Anything less leaves room for different interpretations or lack of consideration or understanding. If you feel disconnected from your mate, start by listening to them.
Step 2: Keep the Agenda of the Union First
By definition, an agenda is “a list, plan, outline, or the like, of things to be done, or matters to be acted upon or voted on.” Your agenda is your plan, or at the very least your outline of things to be done. In a marriage or a relationship, we develop agendas, both individually and in the partnership. You want to understand that whatever you plan to do, in any facet of life, it requires buy in from both of you.
Our personal agendas can easily take us away from the plan of the union. Careers, family, money and other things can interfere with what our plan is together. Anything that distracts from the plan of the union has to be considered by the union as to whether individually we move forward on this thing or not. Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This is especially true in marriage or a relationship heading toward marriage.
Marriage as a whole is greater than the individual. We can’t allow our individual projects or purpose interfere with that of the union. It could be a little thing that distracts us from being on the same page pertaining to agenda. For example, I’m a golfer—so if I want to play golf, but it conflicts with the previous game plan of our household on a certain day, then we have to look at the situation, analyze it and move forward for the good of everyone. It could be something bigger, such as my spouse wants to move to the west coast to take a job and has already taken the job with the assumption it would be good for the entire household.
It’s a discussion we have to analyze and decide together how our plans will be altered and if we want to change what our overall agenda looks like. Couples have to be on the same page in thought, word and deed.
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