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Sample Category - 16-01-2024 - - 0 comments
The Key to a deeply fulfilling, happy relationship

Be kinder.

That's it. Just be kinder.

Let's not confuse this with niceness. By kindness I mean the qualities kindness has:

• Generosity
• Warm
• Helpful
• Clear
• Having the intention of support

I recently spent some time with an elderly couple that have been together a long time. They are renowned for constant bantering, bickering and basically in an endless power struggle over who is in the lead.

I found myself in a situation recently, having to intervene and break up a tennis match of rapidly escalating, spiteful vitriol. Over dinner. In public. In a very nice restaurant. It was like Golem and Bilbo Baggins fighting over The Ring. Hilarious in retrospect but deeply uncomfortable for me in the moment, which I think also makes it funnier in hindsight...!

What was The Ring?

Well, she wanted to have a nice dinner in a nice restaurant and for us all to enjoy it. He was mortified at the prices. £30 for a main course! He was spitting feathers. We got him the bistro menu but the damage was done. Muttering and cursing, he clearly didn't want to be there. He was pouting and behaving like a spoilt child in my humble opinion.

The Ring was desert. He loves deserts. "Go on, have desert" she says, "this is a once in a year occasion, I'm paying, just enjoy the treat!". We'll this lit his fuse and within 2 seconds, he exploded.

Thankfully my intervention worked and a grudging peace was restored. I'm not really one for keeping score, but after this incident, I decided to be mindful to their communication and notice any patterns.

The Gottman Institute research shows that for healthy, resilient relationships, we need a ratio of 5 to 1 of positive communication interactions to negative.

This has been transformative knowledge for me and helps me not be the uber critical person I might otherwise be. So with this in mind, I was listening:

"Remember that time we went to Balmoral?"
Contradiction "No, it was Barra"
Contradiction "You're wrong" eye roll
Criticism         "You're always forgetting"
Contempt        "You're an idiot"
Spite               "Oh shut up, you bloody idiot" said with vehemence through gritted teeth
Placation "Ok so you say it was Barra"

Sigh.... I think we've all heard this kind of pattern. Many of you I guess will be too young to know the super clever, irreverent comedy of Monty Python and their hilarious sketch called The Argument Clinic:  click here to watch (6 mins)  

"I only came here for an argument!"
"Oh sorry, you need room 4, this is room 3, Abuse."

As I see it, the problem is control.

Why can't we let our partner do what they want? 90% of the time they are going to do it anyway. Do you really have a problem with it? Why not save yourself the stress, stop trying so hard to control them and let go the reins of control?

Ah.... Doesn't that feel better?

A phrase I once heard that stuck with me, I forget where, on my journey deep into relationship mastery:

Give your partner what they want, when they want it, no more, no less.

Think about it.

What is the problem for you in this?
• Do you believe your partner has unreasonable wants?
• Maybe you feel insecure, that you're not enough for them, that they'll leave you behind?
• Maybe you're afraid they will bleed you dry, that their needs are bottomless and overwhelming?
• Maybe you don't trust them not to cheat, or yourself if you're left alone?

If any of this is true - perhaps it might be - then you have a bigger problem in your relationship that you are probably not facing. Personality issues are real.

A healthy relationship is nothing without trust, without trust miss the opportunity for true partnership, knowing our other really has our back. If we find ourself in this situation, we often aren't initially able to see it clearly and get trapped in games to attempt to get the security and intimacy we inherently seek in relationship.

Give your partner what they want, when they want it, no more, no less.

Let her enjoy the fancy meal out. It's not about eating out all the time.
Let him not have desert if he doesn't want it.
Support her rather than take the piss when she's learning Gaelic.
Let him go out in the terrible weather if he wants to.
Let her go our dancing with her friends if you don't want to go willingly.
Let him stay in on his own if he wants to.

No relationship is perfect.

I'm reminded that most qualities are in fact polarities - two ends of the same stick, too much of one and we feel an absence of the other. It's not about solving a problem, it's more about discovering what is balance and remembering that balance is a verb - found in the choices we make, the actions we take, the things we say, or not.

Too much freedom and paradoxically we can feel unloved, uncared for. Too many, to strict boundaries and we can feel stifled, suffocated, controlled rather than loved.

One thing I love about my relationship with Nav is that we give each other freedom. We absolutely do not try to control each other. This freedom for us breeds loyalty. I know he trusts me, as I trust him. Much as at times I could be tempted (the gemini in me ha ha), the inner feeling at the thought of breaching this trust sickens me to my core.

Loyalty is a verb, an active choice.

This I believe makes relationships stronger, not the flabby assumption of ‘forever' which so often trips people up, surprising them unexpectedly in an affair, physical or emotional in times when they feel lonely, unseen as we all will at times in a long term relationship.

The other end of our polarity line is that unless we equally co-create together time, we, usually me first, feels distance, neglect. And whoever feels it first, we lean into the qualities of kindness, remembering we are friends first.

From my realm of experience, I truly believe being kinder is the primary key to all great relationships:

  • Generosity
  • Warm
  • Helpful
  • Clear
  • Intention of support

Ask yourself, do you *like* your partner?

Love has gotten so polluted by Hollywood/Bollywood. Let's rewind it back a little.

  • Do you fundamentally like your partner?
  • Do you respect your partner?
  • If they were your friend, would you treat them differently?

Again if you don't like your partner, you don't respect them, there is a bigger issue that you perhaps are avoiding.

I get it.

The underlying issue for this elderly couple that causes all that spite, is a fucked up power dynamic caused by one's alcoholism and the other feeling so powerless that they've become an emotional terrorist. Acting out and unleashing spite because they feel they have no power in the relationship, their words have no impact.

Waaaaaaaaaay back in the early days, he realised the relationship could only work if he sucked it up and rolled over and enabled her drinking.

I think we all do a version of this, as I said, relationships aren't perfect. We all need to compromise. It comes back to that principle again for me:

Give your partner what they want, when they want it, no more, no less.

I add: At what cost? Is this ok for you?

If the cost of this for you is too high, genuinely too high, for your long-term sanity, address it and if you can't resolve it together, walk away.

Life is so very, very short.

Our closest relationships fundamentally determine the arc of our life.

Why would we consciously trap ourselves in relationships that hurt us, constrict us, in which we blame each other for our own failings, feeling held hostage, kind of trapped with someone that annoys the shit out of us that we don't really trust. Far better to be braver, consciously co-create better relationships so we end our short lives surrounded by loving support.

This is my prayer: let's all BE KINDER.

Be more generous.
Be more supportive.
Be a better friend.
Be warmer.
Be clearer.

Drop the reins of control.
You do you. Let them be.
Choose to co-create magic together.
Make life beautiful together, don't make it a war zone.

All it takes is willingness to try.

You'll be amazed at the incredible transformational power of kindness.

If you even just one of you are willing but stuck, work with me, work with a relationship coach, therapist of counsellor as life is too damn short for anything less.

Drop me a comment below if you resonate with this or have a different point of view, I'd love to hear from you.



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