If only there was an absolute recipe or secret to nail this, life would not be as multi faceted and colorful as it is now :-)! This segment is dedicated to my friends with whom many hours have been spent in discussion. As committed dearies, putting it in words so that it may help others too.
That said, the most frequent gripe is, “My husband does not talk to me anymore” or “my wife is not interested anymore”. Conversely, there is also the complaint, “My husband does not understand” or ” My wife does not care”. While there is no cookie cutter approach to getting this fixed, there are a few things we can do before we accept defeat and compromise for life.
While it is easy to move on from one relationship to another, when the going gets tough, a true test of your character is sustaining what you have. That does not mean, compromising and accepting a relationship that’s bad. We will talk about dealing with bad relationships in another blog. Todays discussion is about 2 people not necessarily bad individuals who together have got lost in the daily rut of life or so caught in playing the best couple on social media that they have nothing to talk about behind the camera.
John F Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. Similarly step one of doing a deep dive in your relationship, is understanding what we are doing for it. For the sake of this discussion lets divide our diaspora into 3 segments, prevalent even today!
SEGMENT 1: Humans are generally narcissistic in nature, which means that in our heads, the little we do is magnified into this herculean gesture that deserves acknowledgement and reward. In todays day and age when we hold the man and woman equal, can you imagine the disruption if each person in the relationship is looking for an out of proportion ovation? How long do you think this relationship will last when emotional expectations are not being met?
SEGMENT 2: Given the history of human evolution, women have historically been taught to be the giving and compromising arm in the relationship. So psychologically, if I am getting all I want without even asking, my brain will tell me to take it for granted. It gets especially worse, if indirectly I am being encouraged to think only about myself, throwing compassion and empathy out of the window. Who do you think I will turn out to be? Definitely not someone that you’d want around you for long! And yet we have so many caught in this relationship, which unfortunately becomes the way of life for our kids too. What would you say would be the happiness or couple quotient for this couple?
SEGMENT 3: The split between the 2 segments where the woman is independent but by virtue of her upbringing holds the man on a higher pedestal, sometimes even unknowingly. She is in constant conflict with herself, perhaps saying “I am strong” but really wants to be hugged and reassured. Converse for the man too, who puts up a brave front but longs for company when wife is away partying with girlfriends. How far do you think this confusion and lack of transparency will take them?
We are not getting into the vices and virtues of these segments now and how to break out of it. You can reach out to me for a 1:1 discussion or write to me about it or wait for me to write about it. The focus of this discussion is relationships. That said, given the above, do you think we are naturally set up to have a fail safe or super successful relationship?
Relationship is about work in progress, there is no other way. And perspective helps you direct your work into the right channels, which was the reason behind the broad segmentation. Perspective will hopefully act as your guide, making you more tolerant or giving you courage to take those hard decisions.
Siblings living under the same roof, under the guidance of the same parents turn out so radically different often times. Now think about the inherent differences between your mate and you- gender, environment, family, culture, spirituality, money just to name a few.
If you think these differences were not enough to work as odds against the relationship, I present to you the Endocrine system- human hormones. Hormones is one of the main contributing factors to our emotions in tandem with other faculties. The high that we get, the feeling of wanting more, anger, depression, the motivation that keeps us going, anxiety, stress, rush and so on. Humans are wired to want more. While upbringing and environment play a vital role in this, the adrenalin junkie in us wants us to push our boundaries and experiment. The flakiness of serotonin release (feel good hormone) might sometimes encourage us to flirt very generically speaking.
How do we circumvent these holes? Very simplistically (for the purpose of brevity in discussion) by building multiple bridges of communication, and I don’t mean just words.
Relationships in their nascent stage are typically fun, since they are buzzing with hormones and newness. Given this reward, we make it a priority putting everything else in the backburner. We create our own virtual reality where the only thing that matters is our special friend. Then real life enters and responsibilities take charge.
Again for the purpose of this article, lets broadly make 3 segments.
SEGMENT 1: In the event that you have had a healthy physical and emotional relationship so far, solution is as simple as taking a few mutual vows. 1. Vow to go out for a dinner date once a week looking your very best. Dress to impress the other! 2. Vow to do something fun together with or without friends once a week. Activities release serotonin the feel good hormone. It brings you closer as a couple creating the overlap of things that you can enjoy together. These in turn make precious memories that given the frequency of activities act as the working memory (in the frontal lobe) for your relationship thereby leaving no room for vacuum or space. 3. Vow to surprise your partner once a month ( going for a movie, buying them something, coming home early, cooking their favorite dish, etc.). Flirt with your partner whenever you can, with a touch , your voice, or even your gaze. Small everyday gestures keeps the magic alive and enables you to stay connected- emotionally!
SEGMENT 2: Physically satisfied but with no character or emotional overlap. While it can be very exhilarating to be the object of desire, very few of us can feel relevant in life being just that. It risks getting mundane very soon. If everything else in life is good- finances, home, family, life; I would encourage you to hold on to that rainbow in your life. While mental and emotional satisfaction has a higher calling, that can be met through good friends and family. One perspective is that you have it best. An amazing sex life, a financially secure life, and lots of girl friends to keep that spark in you alive. The trick would be to balance but in your case, hopefully, that would work out fine because there is no competition in any bucket.
SEGMENT 3: Bound emotionally by family but physically disconnected. The biggest issue in developing countries is that spouses are not transparent with each other wrt their desires and needs. Whether we accept it or not, that is the fabric that holds all relationships together. And this fabric is so thin and fragile that it needs constant work, irrespective of how good looking you might be. I would encourage you to take the same 3 vows as in segment 1, preceded with one small task- communicate and understand each others needs so that the execution of vows is in line with each others needs.
Communication is the foundation upon which the relationship is built. While we tend to exaggerate our contribution in any relationship, it is important to view objectively both ours & others contribution as well. If you are doing something out of the ordinary for someone, its ok to talk about it. Its better than sulking on the act going unnoticed. Though don’t make that a habit. Nobody likes Mr Vanity and that will take you down the path of feeling self important which is a strict NO in any relationship!
Simple things as acknowledging what the other person did, goes a long way. This is true for all relationships- parent, sibling, friends and so on. If you are hurt or upset, please communicate, though passively. Convey your expectations, it will form the basis of everlasting relationships.
Most important- stop assuming your partner knows what your thinking about, or upset about. Till you don’t convey the same, how will the other person know? Sure, you would like your partner to know and understand you but the truth is sometimes, we don’t understand ourselves. We are constantly evolving at a pace that we ourselves have trouble keeping up with sometimes. Are we right to expect this from someone else? Work on building that sensibility and maturity in your relationship. If the emotion holding your relationship is true, it will blossom into the most beautiful flower there is. And if not, you will know the person you are investing in is looking for a one sided gain only.
Communication aside put it on the calendar if you have to, to invest time and effort in the relationship. Its up to you to make that relationship feel current, feel alive. Time, touch and conversation would be the broad recipe to make it last!
TIME, TOUCH AND CONVERSATION – broad recipe for lasting relationships!
Perfect relationships are only in movies and social media. Real relationships like food, tastes good when combined with texture, flavor, sweet and spice. Sometimes the onus is on us, to change our palette which in the long term might just make us coveted veterans in that space.
Feel free to leave comments and/or feedback.
Harleen Bagga Multi-Disciplinary Psychotherapist, Self-Awareness Based Transformation Coach
Harleen Bagga Multi-disciplinary Psychotherapist, Self-Awareness Based Transformation Coach.