How to Make a Relationship Last - Part 3- "STAY"
In part one of our series, we talked about taking time to really “see” each other, dream together, and prioritize having fun. In part two, we took a deep dive into what it means to take responsibility to lead in your relationship. In the last part of this series, we introduce a practice that is perhaps the most challenging AND most important to a relationship that wants to grow and thrive.
Huh? You might be saying of course you have to stay to make a relationship last. Well, from our experience, there are a whole lot of different ways to “STAY,” in a relationship. And, where we are headed is about much more than simply not leaving.
BE WITH THE UNCOMFORTABLE. When things get heated, emotions triggered, and that little voice in our head starts saying, “Warning! Danger! This is not going to be fun or a place we want to be.” STAY. Of course, if there is actual danger, LEAVE. The thing is, most of the times our survival brain (fight, freeze, flee) gets activated in our relationships is because of the heightened emotion in the room vs an actual physical danger. So, when we run out of the room, slam the door, start shouting at each other, or just sit there lost in our thoughts not saying anything, these are versions of not staying with the relationship. STAYing looks like taking a deep breath and getting really present. To simply “be with” everything that is happening. The key at this point is to resist the temptation to do anything. Then are more likely to...
LET GO OF BLAME. When we blame, we recoil into our attachment to being right. Your relationship really isn’t interested in who is right and who is wrong. In an earlier post, we introduced you to your relationship as a separate thing, a Third Entity, that has wants, needs, desires, and knows things. Blame is the arrow we throw and the fence we put up to protect ourselves from the discomfort of STAYING. Relationships don’t really like arrows and fences. So, after you take that deep breath, let go of the blame and ask yourself, “Where can I take responsibility for what is happening? What can I own?” Even if it’s just a wee bit of responsibility at first, go there. You may find your partner responds to this with an offer to own what they can as well. If you don’t get that in return, STAY anyway. Take responsibility for what you can. Throwing blame arrows gets much harder when only one of you are playing that game.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Ok. Sometimes your relationship does want and need one or both of you to create some space and be away from each other for a while. “But wait!” you ask. “How is that STAYing?” Well, if you get up, run away, and slam a few doors, then have a self-pity party on your bed, that is not STAYing. If you retreat into your own head and stare off into space expecting something magical will just happen, that is not STAYing. Neither of these responses has anything to do with taking care of yourself either. We call these responses STUCKing not STAYing. STAYING looks like telling your partner that what you need most right now is to spend some time alone, maybe taking a bath, listening to music, reading – whatever it means for you to take care of yourself. The blame arrows hurt. Sometimes the best thing to do is create some space to heal. Relationships like when we choose healing. And, just because you are apart, doesn’t mean you aren’t STAYing.
Your relationship will be right there, waiting and rooting for you.