Our focus in 2017 is GROWTH. In January, we focused on “Growing a Healthier You.” In February we will be focusing on “Growing Healthy Relationships.” Let’s look at the condition of our heart as it relates to love and intimacy from the past or present. We have all experienced love as well as suffered hurt and pain in these relationships. Let’s face it, we have all felt let down, disappointed, overlooked or unappreciated in a love relationship. Over the years our hearts can become numb or hardened if we do not address that pain. How do we cope with moments when we are hurt or feeling unappreciated? Especially when we know that our partner did not intent to hurt us?
In the past maybe we behaved poorly. We would seek revenge or withhold warmth and give them the cold shoulder in hopes that they would notice us? Maybe we gave them a piece of our mind so they wouldn’t forget to show appreciation or so that they would make improvements about how they were treating us? If we are truly honest with self, we have probably acted out our own creative versions of all these behaviors. When we understand our partner is probably doing the best they can with the stress levels and set of circumstances they are dealing with and we still end up feeling hurt, it is these moments that I want to address (which is very different than if you find yourself in an abusive situation). I am talking about when we are hurt and no hurt is intended.
Put simply, there are two parts to this emotional equation. The first part is realizing our own tendencies to over-work and over-do. Many of us self-sacrifice to the point that we find our self operating from old belief systems about feeling worthless and not worthy of having our personal needs met. It might be US putting our own needs last and hoping that our partner will fill the emptiness or the void. And when they don’t automatically step in to support us in our over-giving, we feel abandoned and betrayed.
Here’s my question did they really betray us or in this moment is it really an act of self-betrayal where we didn’t voice our needs to our spouse or partner? If this is the case, we get to become more aware of our needs and make improvements in this area as well as communicate our needs to our spouse in better form BEFORE we get caught in blaming them.
Second, we may feel pain or hurt in our hearts because of our “stinking thinking.” We may need to “let go” of unrealistic judgments and expectations toward our spouse. When we change our expectations and turn them into appreciation, we then have an opportunity to change our perspective and have our hearts softened. The need to control our spouse or partner, or control love comes from a hardened heart. And the only heart we have power over is our own. We have power to help our heart to heal. We determine what to hold onto and what to “let go” of, no matter what our spouse or partner did or didn’t do.
Our ability to forgive and keep our heart soft and warm is our responsibility. A soft heart helps us grow healthy relationships. Successful marriages are based on the couple’s ability to communicate well and the ability to forgive each other along the way. This month we get to celebrate love relationships. We all need to remember to keep our hearts soft and to not be offended when no offense is intended. Let’s do this by communicating our needs better and taking better care of ourselves instead of expecting someone else to do that for us. We can focus on the things we love about our spouse and thank them for supporting us in the ways that they do show love for us. By taking responsibility for our own lives, keeping our hearts soft and practicing gratitude for others, we are growing richer, more rewarding relationships. Be the Valentine that you are hoping your spouse is for you!
Happy Valentine’s Day!