Many times, we may feel like too much time has passed, too many issues have built up, and too many resentments have developed for us to have a healthy relationship, or for us to be viewed as a good partner, or to view our partner in a positive light. However, if two crucial factors exist, and that is our love and desire to be with this person, and our knowledge and willingness to work on ourselves as a person, we can overcome just about anything we set our minds to as a couple. I have seen couples come to therapy with seemingly benign issues who were willing to “throw away” their relationship, and not do the work. Deep down, it was telling of a level of investment in the overall relationship. I have also seen couples come in facing issues that most people would think that a couple could never get past, and they were able to do some very difficult, painful, and hard work, but they both had the united goal of wanting to be together, and wanting to do whatever it took to achieve that goal.
As we move towards this new year, it seems like a good time to reflect on some of these questions. What kind of relationship do we have right now? What kind of relationship would we like it to be? Now the important point, as it is to easy to point the finger at the partner…..not how do I want my partner to change, how can I change and be a better partner to have the kind of relationship I want? This is not saying your partner does not have work to do on their end, but we are all to fast to place the blame on others without being willing to take a hard look at ourselves. The success and failure of relationships, often, are due to the contributions of each member of the couple. When a relationship is ending, each person often becomes so blinded by their own hurt and anger, that they are unable to see the part they played in the breakdown of their relationship. They also have struggled to communicate along the way, which may have prevented things from getting to this point in the first place.
A great exercise, no matter what the state of the relationship, is to have a talk about what each of you is wanting from your relationship and from each other this year, and to be open to hearing what the other is saying. Make sure to state before the talk that each of you is going to have an open mind to the other, and that neither of you is going to be defensive or attack the other. Let it be known that the point of the exercise if to strengthen your relationship, and to make sure that you are addressing any issues that are going unsaid. That you are making sure that each of you is being the best partner that you can be, and that each of you is continually putting each other and the relationship first. Most importantly, that each of you is always open to the possibility of growth and change. New Years is a chance for a clean slate, growth, change, and renewal. We can truly use it an opportunity to reset some of the wrongs that have happened in our relationship, and get it back to a place that we would both like it to be. With a little work, and some common goals, you might be surprised how quickly things might be able to change. Here is wishing you a happy and healthy relationship this coming year.