Relationships are hard work. They are. If you’re determined to have a long-lasting, loving relationship, you have to work at it. And it’s not just you that has to be willing to do the work, your partner needs to be willing as well. This goes for any long-term relationship and seems to show-up especially in marriage.
You see, you can be one of three things in your relationship:
- You can be the anchor holding on strong to where you are and making sure that change does not happen.
- You can be the boat, constantly rising with the tides and always moving.
- Or, you can both be anchors or boats.
In most relationships today, both parties tend to be anchors, holding onto their beliefs like stubborn 5 year olds. “I’m right and they’re wrong!”
Hey, we’re all guilty of this from time-to-time, but would you rather be right or happy? OK… I know, you’d rather be both, but for the sake of this post, we’re going to talk about how to not only save a relationship, but how to make it thrive. A good relationship sucks. A great relationship is worth fighting for.
I’m going to assume, since you’re reading this article that you’re either a boat in your relationship, or you’re at least interested in being the boat.
To change your relationship, you must change yourself. You got to where you are today by doing what you’ve been doing. Who you are got you to where you are now. In order to take your relationship to a new level, you need to take 100% responsibility for your relationship, the past, the present, and the future.
You can’t have different results without you become a different response. In other words, if you want to take your relationship to the next level, you are going to have to change. You are going to have to do the work.
It gets better. Not only do you need to change, but your partner needs to change as well.
It’s commonly said that a rising tide lifts all boats and although this was used in reference to the economy, it holds true in relationships as well. However, the only way to raise the tide is for both people to want to make that change. By being the change you want to see in your relationship, by identifying where you’ve been the anchor and letting go, and by taking your game to the next level, your partner will have two choices – rise with you or sink the ship.
Are you a boat or an anchor?
Here’s your homework:
- Find a quiet place where you can sit and think for at least 10 minutes. As yourself this question: where in my relationship have I been an anchor? By anchor, I mean where are you holding onto beliefs that you are right, beliefs from the past that don’t serve you or your relationship, and beliefs that you have been somehow wronged in your relationship. When you find a belief that you’re certain about, you know you’re right, then that’s where you’re being an anchor. That’s where you’re being a 5 year old.
- Make a list of all the beliefs and anchors you found in part 1. Are you willing to let them go and/or change them? If so, share them with your partner. For me, I was right about the way money should be handled in our relationship. I knew I was right and my wife was wrong. I was certain. Oops. Red flag. I was being a 5 year old being stubborn and holding on for dear life to the fact (or so I thought) that I was right. This is clearly an area that I need to work on and change. This is where I was being an anchor. I had to share it and come clean in order to create a new possibility (and it worked!).
- What do you want? Where do you want the relationship to go? Write this down in the form of “I”. Write down what you want, but don’t place any blame on anyone else. Don’t repeat the patterns of the past. Get very clear about your vision and invite your partner to join you on the journey. This is what I want, this is what I want to create, and I invite you to create this with me.
- Like all living things, you’re relationships is in a constant state of growing or dying. You’re evolving as a person, as an individual… and so is your partner. Your relationship is evolving as well – this is where you get to choose whether it evolves in the direction you want it to or if you want to hold onto the belief that it won’t change and therefore let it die. Think of your relationship as a plant – it will continue to grow and reap fruit if you feed it quality nutrients and water it daily.