Life According To Lenson
UNITED STATES—Remember the wonderful feelings you had when your relationship with your spouse was fresh and exciting? The initial weeks, months, and perhaps even the first few years of being a couple were filled with upbeat feelings about yourself, your loved one, and life in general.
Everything was easy when love was at its best. A client of mine refers to this point in her relationship as feeling "light." It is the feelings people longingly wish for years later, when the same relationship is characterized more by criticism, apathy, and resistance, than by love, openness and trust.
Cynics claim that the joyous feelings experienced in a new relationship cannot sustain themselves over the course of a lifetime. That theory garners support when observing controlling, angry couples, who have been married for a lengthy period of time, communicate with each other. But it does not explain the happiness and joy some couples successfully share, decade after decade of marriage.
The secret to getting the love back in your relationship is not about more being done for you, but rather, to acknowledge and value your partner. Think of how good it feels when you are acknowledged and valued by someone in your life. If the validation comes from your boss at work, you feel more confident about your capabilities. In turn, you are probably more motivated to work harder, or more creatively. You probably feel more open to your boss, and are more receptive to communicating and sharing ideas. Your happiness doesn't just remain inside of you. It radiates outside, to your expression, style of walking, and tone of voice. You are more likely to have a smile on your face, a bounce to your step, and a cheery, optimistic quality to your speech.
Your boss, who gave you the validation, becomes the recipient of your upbeat, positive response. He is also likely to feel happier about himself because you are communicating reciprocal validation, which in turn results in his feeling more positive towards you. This example, of the boss giving an employee positive feedback, and the impact it has on both the employee and boss, reflects the ability an unhappy couple has in rebuilding the loving communication in their relationship.
In my life coaching practice, I work with unhappy couples. Each one is hurt, and protects his or herself by building barriers in the form of anger and blame. Each one typically views his or her spouse as being critical, complaining and unappreciative, and wants me to 'fix' their partner.
What these couples fail to see is that they can build a relationship of love through focusing more on themselves than on their partner's flaws. If a positive comment can generate happiness and openness in someone and that person in turn feels happy, more confident, and accepting of the other person, then inversely, a negative comment can destructively push the two people further apart with each spoken sentence.
Getting the love back in the relationship involves communicating acceptance of the other person for who he or she is. Being judgmental, rejecting or controlling is destructive behavior that simply makes the other person more defensive, and it isn't effective. The recipient of this communication is not likely to change, and both people in the relationship become hurt and angry.
Conveying acceptance will bring back the love. You will find you can communicate better than in the initial days of courtship, because now you have the skills to both prevent the barriers being built, and the skills to convey acceptance, caring and love.
Eileen Lenson, MSW, ACSW, Board Certified Coach, has 20 years experience as a psychotherapist. Now in private practice as a life coach, she is available for consultations via telephone or in person at 949-244-5100. For further information about Eileen, visit her website at www.LensonLifeCoaching.com.
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