How to Make a Relationship Last - Part 2- Taking Responsibility to Lead


In the part one of our series, How to Make A Relationship Last , we talked about Really Seeing Each Other, Dreaming Together, and Prioritizing Having Fun.   We also mentioned the importance of taking responsibility to lead in your relationship.  What’s leadership got to do with relationships?  Well, a lot.

We believe anyone who chooses to take responsibility for their world, including their relationships, is a leader.  Sometimes, people get hung up on the word “responsibility” and may feel a heaviness, weighed down, or anxious when thinking about it.  Try this reframe: “Responsibility = Ability to Respond= Freedom.” 

By choosing to take responsibility for your relationship, you are choosing to respond to what your relationship wants because you really want your relationship to work in a way that is fulfilling, energizing, and joyful.   So, how do you lead in your relationship?

Take Enough Time to Notice.   The needs, wants, and desires of your relationship can easily get lost somewhere at the bottom of a never-ending to-do list and waiting for the never arriving, “Oh, I’ll get to my relationship when I finish….”   The good news is we make up that somehow honoring what your relationship wants means investing a lot of time.  Now, you may choose to spend a lot of time, AND you don’t necessarily have to.  Often, your relationship just wants to be noticed.  So, take the lead and notice. This can be as simple as taking a few moments each day to reflect up what your relationship wants.  And, committing to putting whatever insight you get somewhere on the top of your to-do list.

Be Grateful. Choosing to bring more gratitude into your relationship can help shift you from feeling separated to feeling more connected to your partner.  The science on this is strong.  Sara Algoe is a leading researcher on this stuff. You can check out a great talk by her here.  Of course, expressing gratitude directly to your partner is great, and the cool thing is that even if you think or write about something you are grateful for about your partner, you’ll feel closer and more connected.  Getting into a practice of gratitude is a great way to take responsibility for giving your relationship what it wants.

Own Your Part  Ever find yourself feeling defensive and blaming your partner during a fight?  Chances are you end up feeling drained as opposed to energized.  The drained feeling is a strong signal to take responsibility and lead.  When you're feeling defensive, look for where you can find where your words or actions are contributing to the conflict.  Yup, this can be hard.  Remember the part about really wanting your relationship to work??   Start by asking yourself where you can take at least 10% responsibility for the conflict.  And, lead from there.

As you begin to take responsibility to lead in your relationship, let your partner know what you are up to.  If you end of leading all the time, you’ll start to feel resentment (ultimately a relationship killer.)  Be transparent. Ultimately, your relationship will want each of you to take responsibility for leading.


Stay tuned for Part 3 of our series, “How to Make Your Relationship Last.”

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