Sometimes it can be a bit tricky and confusing when we haven’t had a history of setting boundaries to know how it all works.
Similarity, if we’ve been hurt or traumatized in our past that can influence how we bring our truth and experience to others.
I see this a lot, where someone makes a vague request and the other person doesn’t prioritize what they’ve asked.
This tends to happen when we’re not specific in our request, and we withhold the vulnerability.
Ex: I would love to talk to you soon.
This statement tells you nothing about the inner world of the person saying it. And “soon” is a very broad term that means something different to everyone. There is a lot of room for minsunderstandinf and hurt feelings.
Now, here is another way this could be shared: “I’ve been noticing lately that I’m feeling disconnected from you and that makes me sad deep down. Our connection is one I really value and with both our crazy schedules I haven’t been prioritizing us as much as I would like to. Would you be open to quickly reconnecting on the phone tonight around 8?” This statement is honest, vulnerable and makes a very clear request.
In this instance the person can agree or decline depending on their schedule and make a counter offer.
If after a clear request like this you get back a lukewarm response, check it out. Get curious. Ask them directly what that’s about. Find out when it would work for them to connect. And test that against what works for you.
If their counteroffer works, go with it. If it doesn’t, keep playing let’s make a deal until you come to an agreement that works for both people.
If they have no interest in finding a win-win, then you back up your boundary and invest your energy with people who are able to meet you.
But also be careful of cutting things off too soon. If you haven’t set boundaries before and the first time is messy or doesn’t go as smoothly as possible, don’t write off the relationship. Get curious. Talk about it.
That being said it would be appropriate to cut it off if the other person reacts viciously, attacks your character or is blatantly harmful. That’s a no-go zone.
What’s your experience with all this?
How you feel in your own skin powerfully impacts the space between you and your intimate partner. When you feel confident, upbeat, and energized, it’s easy to feel open to connection. You can tap into playful, curious, and optimistic energy and the relationship gets infused with all kinds of good stuff.
But what about when you’re in the throes of some sort of deeply personal challenge:
* I feel insecure about my career
* I feel critical of my body
* I feel guilty about my parenting * I feel scared about my health
How beautiful that an intimate relationship can provide comfort. Sitting in the muck with someone who loves you can be deeply comforting. When two people carry pain, the load can feel so much lighter.
But I want to look at something tough else here. It can be really hard to be in a personal crisis AND in an intimate relationship. You know you don’t feel like your normal self... and so does your partner. This awareness can add a layer of shame on top of the knot of self-criticism and self-doubt. This awareness can create a layer of fear that your partner will grow impatient with your funk. But you don’t have a magic wand and you can’t just will your suffering away.
So what can you do?
1. Self-compassion. Be gentle af with yourself. Nobody ever shamed themselves out of a funk!
2. Pull in resources other than your intimate partner. Friends, therapy, movement, a great book.
3. Unpack this question with your partner: “What can we do to nurture connection while I’m having a bit of a hard time?” What I love about this question is that you’re naming the issue (“I’m having a hard time”) versus hiding the ball and painting on a smile. You’re also inviting in the possibility that your struggle doesn’t have to take center stage. You can be in pain and worthy of pleasure.
We don’t have to be perfect to be loved. But we do need to be real about the fact that our individual challenges affect our relationships. #lovingbravely
One of the best things about being in a healthy relationship is having a supportive spouse who you know has your back. Whether it’s sticking up for you, or always being that rock you can rely on, in a healthy relationship you and your spouse will support each other. Marriage is about choosing to depend on one another.
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It’s wonderful to (want) to be unconditional.
There is nothing more precious than to want to offer our partner the best version of our love no matter what they do.
But we have to be deeply careful here.
We have to be careful that we don’t try to spiritually bypass our partner or (ourselves) in the process.
We are still human.
We can have spiritual experiences.
We can taste moments of unconditional love.
We can grow our tolerance to get to compassion more quickly and approach our upsets with more kindness.
But what we absolutely can (NOT) do is override our feelings and our hurts under the guise of unconditional love.
No functional relationship can exist without boundaries, without healthy and consciously made agreements between two people.
Be very wary of anyone that tries to bypass your feelings and your hurts.
Set a boundary with them and explain how that action hurts you.
Then step back and watch their response.
If they are not getting it, they simply may not understand.
But hear me .. it is NOT your job to to help them understand if they continue to dismiss you.
If they are stuck and want support and you can see that there is a (genuine opening) to understand your boundaries .. then you can choose to proceed more deeply.
But if you continue to violate your (own) boundaries because they are (not willing) to understand, then you will become an enabler.
You will end up tolerating behaviors that will ultimately destroy the relationship in the long run.
You will end up minimizing the importance of (YOU) feeling heard and validated.
And no healthy relationship can ever thrive in that space.