More Tips for the Starting Line — Improving Your Intimate Relationship

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written by Terri Crosby for In Care of Relationships

Are you trying to improve your relationship?  Make it better? Here are a few more tips for getting started.

Hold Your Horses…

Resist the temptation to try to remodel your relationship on top of the current conditions — the conglomeration of good stuff, the bad stuff, and everything in between.tools for remodeling Do a little due diligence and give yourself some time to investigate and reflect.  Don’t be in a hurry.  You have months or years and plenty of energy invested in your relationship, so give yourself the time it takes to see what’s really going on. If you don’t know how to do that, get help. Otherwise, it’s like trying to fix something without really knowing what to fix.  Or trying to repair a sputtering engine without doing a diagnostic or checking the basics.  You can fix this and fix that, but still the engine doesn’t run well.  You haven’t found a main issue yet.

Hey, How About A Little Duct Tape?

duct tapeIn business, it would be like trying to consistently solve problems with a quick fix.   When an issue arises, you get out your handy-dandy duct tape. For example:  “Oh, we’ll just tell our customers we’ve had an unexpected  and unavoidable delay.  It’s out of our hands, but we’ll get the product to you as soon as possible.” Maybe that’s true and maybe it’s a convenient story.  But it’s duct tape.  It’s only going to hold things together until that emergency is over. Instead of being pro-active, and making a long term plan to create a different outcome next time, often we’re relieved that the emergency has passed and we simply go back to business as usual. But sooner or later another emergency arises, and out comes the duct tape.  Maybe that same problem rears its head again and maybe it looks like a new problem.

The Problem With The Quick Fix

But here’s the thing.  Duct tape can only do so much — it has its limits.  It’s not going to fix a foundational issue.   Swooping in with a quick fix of any kind does help with symptoms, but not main issues. Relationship emergencies are no different.   You can duct tape until the cows some home, but it’s not going to solve anything foundational.  Are you tired of duct taping your issues and making things appear reasonably OK?   If you don’t know how to get through your yeow-ly moments, disagreements, crashes, problems — then you’ve got nothin’ but a circus on your hands. Seriously.  You’ve got a Barnum and Bailey Circus Extravaganza — in your relationship!

Been There, Done That

So here’s what we sometimes do — and we’ve all done it or seen it.tiger in cage There’s a big, awful disagreement between me and my beloved.  Now it’s over.  But there’s something we’re supposed to do in a few hours, a dinner with friends, and on a good day, we’d really want to go. So we take a deep breath and gather a little inner strength.  We put our lions and tigers away in their cages — lock ’em in tight.  We make sure the snakes and the tarantulas are all quiet, too, and we get all freshened up.  And, yes, we go out to dinner with our friends. During the evening, there is always that chance, (and you know exactly what I mean here), that one of my personal tigers could get loose, say,  after that second glass of wine. And wow.    It can be a pretty profound and defining moment. Here’s how it might look. First, let’s be clear that I’m not over what happened a few hours earlier.  Let’s also be clear that I’m pretending to be present and I have put on my “I’m fine” face. circus cannonSo… someone says something. I react. Instinctively,  I set my tiger loose. I set my tiger loose ’cause (in my defense) I saw one coming at me — from someone at the table. ( I TELL YOU — there WAS a tiger coming at me.  I had to save myself.) Maybe it’s from my beloved partner (with whom I had the earlier squabble.) Or perhaps it’s (an annoying) family member, in-law, or someone I’ve never met who miraculously got invited to this dinner and gets under my skin. But, in any case, I react. Darn it. (It’s out there.  I can’t take it back.) Now, in that looooong pause while the others at the table are staring at me waiting to see what happens next and wondering if the scene’s going to get ugly(er) —  it’s tense. It’s tense for me.  It’s tense for everyone. Someone lit my firecracker (they hit my personal reactor button) and did it blow things sky high? (Well, yes, actually, I did feel something explode…) Table mates are wondering, “Are we all going to be on pins and needles from now on?  Am I going to be able to digest my Scampi and Risotto?  Or shall we all rise to the occasion and spin happy circus plates in the air to distract ourselves from all this disgruntlement?  Shall we pretend???  Act nice?  Try to help?  Ignore it completely and start a side conversation?  Join the ruckus?  Get out the boxing gloves?” Whatever shall we do? We’ve been there…. we’ve either seen it or done it.

How Do I Turn This Around?

So… back to the more personal example at home. If you want to calm things down, slow things down, and take a look at what’s really going on in any kind of chaos, start in an easy place.  Look for the little places — not the big places — where you react to your partner or someone you relate to on a daily basis.  Make notes.   Here’s what I mean by a reaction.
  • You know that thing s/he says or does that instantly makes you angry?  And you have a reaction?  And it’s not a good reaction?  That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
  • Or s/he is predictable — oh, here we go again.  The same (damn) story.  The same (damn) habit.  The same (damn) whatever.  And you want to run away screaming?
  • Or you feel disappointed when your partner doesn’t do something.  That’s a reaction.
  • Or your partner isn’t holding up his/her end of the bargain.  S/he said employment was in his/her future, but it’s not happening.  And you have a reaction.
  • Or your partner criticizes you?  Cuts you down?  And you defend, explain, justify?   All of that is reactive (both sides).  It’s not creative.  Reactions aren’t wrong — they just don’t help you thrive.  They are simply inefficient.  They aren’t helping you get what you say you want.
You may think,  “These reactions are really no big deal.  Everybody deals with these.  Everybody has them.” Yes, that’s true.  Every human being has reactions. And the reactions sound small individually, but when you put them all together, and then add years and years of practice, and you’ve got a big clump of  icky that’s not much fun.  It can weigh on you and weigh on the relationship.  It can be awful.

What Makes a Relationship Thrive?shift gears head

A thriving relationship moves from being  “reaction based” to a place where you can be more creative together. Which means that YOU move from reactive to creative.  Don’t worry about your partner, just concentrate on YOU about this. Instead of ups and downs, or one crisis after another, and a lot of strong sticky tape,  quick fixes or courses in Circus Management, the ride is smoother.  You are more present.  You see each other.  You appreciate.  You listen more, defend less. For a relationship to thrive, shift gears.  Shift your focus.  Shift your perspective of the circumstances. (Yes, I know, easier said than done.) For instance, shift from “We have a problem and this is a PROBLEM, this is bad, OMG…” …to “We have a problem and this is a golden opportunity.” Just start there. Yes, there is a way for a problem to bring you closer.  I really mean that.  The solution to the problem can help your relationship, if you let it.  You become closer because of that problem.  No recovery needed. Wouldn’t it be amazing if your “big problem” creates a solution that strengthens your connection?  Yes. It’s totally possible.  It’s possible if you see your “problem” as an opportunity to become more of who you are.

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new shoots 2About Terri Crosby — I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Eric, my partner of 14 years, two cats and a dog, and as many flowers and vegetables as I can plant.

I’m in favor of wandering time in the morning, listening to the birds calling to each other in the woods all around me.

Making fresh food is one of life’s big yummy pleasures, along with singing – especially creating heavenly, improvisational, prayerful, meditational sound.

It is my experience that children are born to teach (remind) parents, not the other way around.   I’ve learned more from my daughter than from all other humans combined.

I believe that poet Mary Oliver writes the best bedtime stories available on Earth.

For more information about In Care of Relationships, click here.

 
 

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Terri Crosby

Helping you create life-affirming, ever-evolving, happier relationships with those you love. Follow me on twitter at@TerriCrosby or read myblog.

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Rise Up by Andra Day

What a great set of words for these oncoming days.

Rise Up

 
You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you
For you
For you
For you
When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
Bring it to its feet
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you
For you
For you
For you
All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other
And for that we have each other
And we will rise
We will rise
We’ll rise, oh, oh
We’ll rise
I’ll rise up
Rise like the day
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I will rise a thousand times again
And we’ll rise up
High like the waves
We’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
We’ll rise up
And we’ll do it a thousand times again
For you
For you
For you
For you
Ah, ah, ah, ah
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Cassandra Monique Batie / Jennifer Decilveo
Rise Up lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Terri’s book of photography combined with poetry is here! 100 Words: Small Servings of Whimsy and Wisdom to Calm the Mind and Nourish the Heart.

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Rippling Abs, Anyone?

Rippling Abs, Anyone?

During this strange time in history, I noticed y’all were tackling all sorts of interesting projects. I decided I needed one, too—something positive to remember the pandemic of 2020 by.
 
I decided to pay attention to something I had abandoned…
 
Nope, I’m not cleaning my garage. I am not organizing one single thing. I’m not planting a garden or cleaning up my yard.
 
Instead, I decided to take care of myself better. This, folks, has made all the difference for me.
 
With relatively little time and effort on my part, I feel so much better than I did a month ago.
 
On March 30, I got on the exercise bike and the yoga mat for the first time in a long time, and did 30 minutes each. I liked it so much that I decided to do it every day. But I fell short of that, and changed my commitment to every other day, which felt more manageable, reasonable, and doable.
 
I also get off the bike after every song, take a couple of sips of water, shake out my legs and arms for a few seconds, and get back on. This makes the bike project a reasonable proposition, too.
 
Daily walks of any length—by myself, or with my little guy, Jackson—are a fresh air bonus.
 
My recumbent exercise bike has pulleys to work my upper body while I pedal, which gets my heart rate up fast, and also helps my whole-body strength. It feels good to get up from writing, or doing a consulting session with a client, to do something physically challenging while listening to good music.
 
After only a month, I feel a sheet of muscles on the front of me I haven’t felt for a very, very long time. Goodness gracious. Who knew they were there. I’ll be posting rippling ab photos soon, I’m sure.
 
I have no idea what the scales have to say about my bike/yoga project—I don’t care. Paying attention to scales tends to send me sideways, and therefore, I’m ignoring them completely.
 
But—I LOVE the way I feel! Hang in there, everyone.
 

Terri’s book of photography combined with poetry is here! 100 Words: Small Servings of Whimsy and Wisdom to Calm the Mind and Nourish the Heart.

Read more

Check Out This Troublemaker in Relationships

Check Out This Troublemaker in Relationships

Sometimes we ask intimate partners to do for us what is actually ours to do.

We ask our partner to give us the reassurance, love or appreciation we feel is missing in ourselves, with the hope that they will give us what we’re asking for—and then we’ll feel better. They’ll take care of our problem.

But when they do give us what we’re asking for, it can never be enough, because we have insufficient context for what they’ve given. We haven’t build the inner foundation to receive it, hear it, welcome it, believe it. They try to help, but their love for us falls into our void, our black hole, our love bucket with no bottom.

As always, there’s hope. Check out the video below.

Terri Crosby. http://www.incareofrelationships.com/.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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Terri Crosby

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