Whether I’m talking to an interesting prospect at a consult or lying face down on a massage table, people love to pick my brain. They often tell me about their current relationship; how it’s going and are constantly asking me questions like: “How do I know if my marriage can be saved?” or “what advice can you give me about XYZ?” so here are the top 10 most frequently asked questions I get with some of my responses.
- How do we stop the fighting and arguing?
- How do I start to fix our struggling marriage?
- What can I do to help my marriage/How do I be a better partner and spouse?
- How do we stop being roommates?
- Can my marriage be saved?
- Is it worth trying to save our marriage?
- How do I show my partner that I love them?
- Why is my partner so mean and cold to me?
- How do I get my partner to open up and talk to me?
- How do we rebuild trust again?
The funny and interesting thing is that my response to all these questions is almost the same, so let me give you the ‘Quick and Dirty’ synopsis:
COMMUNICATION, ARGUMENTS, ETC.
The short answer: Respect your differences and learn to listen without interrupting. We fight because we don’t feel heard, understood, and accepted just the way we are. We tell ourselves that having different beliefs or opinions is a bad thing. Focus on creating a safe space for each other, otherwise, we will shut down emotionally, build up those walls even higher, and start to close our hearts to each other and ultimately lose our connection and love. Remember: Your truth isn’t THE truth. It’s only one version or opinion. If your partner is totally disengaged and avoids any affection or meaningful interactions with you, chances are there is something to address and get responsible for. To get the all details, download my “5 Ways to Improve your Communication with your Partner”: https://jeanellgreene.com/5communicationtips
It’s not your fault. You don’t know any better. Let’s face it: We were never taught by our parents, school system, and society to communicate to understand, connect, and empathize. Instead, we were taught to react, defend, justify, lie, judge, compare, win, dominate, and crush our opponent. No wonder so many couples can’t seem to break the vicious cycle of frustration, annoyance, disrespect, and guilt/shame.
FRIENDSHIP: YOUR FOUNDATION
Every strong marriage that I’ve encountered has one thing in common: they have a strong friendship. Why is this important? It’s like the foundation of a house. If the foundation hasn’t been properly built, it’s easy for your house to fold like a deck of cards. Life will always have its ups and downs, and sometimes it brings you to your knees. When you have a strong friendship, it’s like adding shocks to your car; you’re able to withstand the bumps and potholes more confidently.
Whenever I meet couples who are struggling in their marriage, one of the first things I notice is the lack of friendship. They often tell me a story of a quick engagement/marriage, or that they had their first child unexpectedly thus not having enough time to build up their intimate connection before becoming moms and dads. This can be really hard on a couple as once they get into the routine of soccer practice, dance lessons, and kids activities, they have a hard time balancing being a couple/lovers, and being caregivers to their little humans.
Trust is like a tree. It grows over time. It’s not a one-and-done deal. I believe that the hardest thing about building trust with our partner is sometimes we don’t realize that old childhood trauma or old emotional wounds can prevent us from ever fully trusting not only others but ourselves. This one hits home for me. Our partner will often trigger this old wound, and our brains think that they are the sole reason that we are upset when in actual fact, it has less to do with them and more to do with you and your own insecurities.
When we are able to do something that allows our partner to trust us more, we are creating emotional safety which allows us to feel assured, confident, accepted, and loved. These are the moments when we are able to distinguish that our partner isn’t like our parents who left us when we were a child. But here is a gentle reminder: It is not your partner’s job to make you happy. It is yours. So manage your expectations and be responsible for them. They are YOUR standards based on your own beliefs so don’t be surprised if your partner isn’t in total alignment with you.
FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION
People often ask me, “How do I fix my marriage?” or “how do we overcome this situation and get back on track?” The first thing to do is to look in the mirror and get honest with yourself. Many people live in denial, shame, avoidance, and lies. We downplay our partner’s discontent, or even worse, we turn the tables and blame them somehow. In the end, we inject doubt, humiliation, and rejection into our relationships and wonder why things are in the condition they are in. Congratulations – you have just broken your partner’s trust.. and for what??
In order for your partner to trust you again, you must willing to get responsible and own your behavior. And this is where most people will justify themselves by saying, “Yeah, but they started it!” That’s our inner child talking by the way. That isn’t truly us in the present. This is an indication that there are old childhood wounds that still haven’t been addressed. Being responsible isn’t about fault or blame, rather it’s about accepting your own actions, and their impact on yourself and others, and being empowered to take the necessary actions to put things back into integrity. If your partner is holding a grudge, or resentment, and is unable to forgive or “get over” something, chances are it’s because you haven’t addressed your part. Once you have owned up to your part and showed some vulnerability, the chances of your partner doing the same become more likely. Again, it’s all about creating a safe space between you two so that people can fess up and know that they won’t be rejected by you.
At the end of the day, it’s all about growing and changing together. It’s about remembering that our partner, too, is human and flawed, and just like ourselves, has a lot of secrets, shame, guilt, fears, and just simply wants to be loved and accepted just the way they are.. and the way they are not.
Issues start to arise when we try to force the change on the other partner instead of on ourselves. We think, “If only they would XYZ then I’d/we’d be happy.” We sometimes ignore the fact that we can’t control other people and their actions. We can’t change people; people have to want to change on their own and trying to strong-arm them into being someone else they do not only create pain, disappointment, and separation.
Change is inevitable. Change can also be hard. Why? Because real change is outside of our comfort zone and we are creatures of comfort and security. Change is neither comfortable nor reassuring, but if we embrace change and our natural evolution and growth, change can feel exciting, fulfilling, and powerful. We just need to be willing to stare our own fears in the face and go toe-to-toe with all of our known negative beliefs about ourselves.
- To sum it all up in one sentence, “Be the change you wish to see”.
- If you want more love, show it.
- If you want more affection, be more affectionate.
- If you want more appreciation and praise, be generous in your acknowledgments.
- If you want to learn to forgive, start with learning to forgive yourself.
- You cannot give to another what you do not know for yourself.
- Keep showing up. Keep putting in the effort.
- Give and show love unconditionally. Don’t withhold your love and use it as a weapon or a form of manipulation
- If you find yourself unable to love the people around you, chances are you also don’t love yourself.
- Careful of your words. They can cut like a knife and cannot be undone. Words create your world.
- If you don’t believe there’s hope in your marriage, then there’s hope. If you don’t believe there’s hope, you will search for evidence to convince yourself that it’s true.
- If what you’re doing isn’t working, go get support and ask for help. Asking for help is both brave and might be exactly what is needed to resolve any potential obstacles or challenges
- Focus on love instead of fear. Most of us are clear about what we don’t want and spend most of our time resisting that. Yet the majority of people don’t know what they actually want because they live in fear instead of love… and so the vicious cycle of confusion and unhappiness continues. If you have a question similar to the ones above, I invite you to connect with me or follow me on social media.
Hope this helped!
With great love, Jeanell. xo