You can’t just love the person, you must learn how to nourish the RELATIONSHIP with him or her.
Nourishing and loving your RELATIONSHIPS is different than loving the other person.
This morning around 10 AM I received an emergency phone call from a young couple who were having a nasty fight. There are plenty of issues stressing them both out but they actually are outside stressors. Still, there they were taking their stress out on each other, only making things worse. Why does family life sometimes seem to hurt so much?
Sometimes, it feels like no one understands our needs or even wants to. We know we can’t figure them out. It feels like the bickering and power struggles will never end. Does he or she even care about MY problems, MY needs? Then we wind up feeling angry, sad, anxious, inadequate, confused, overwhelmed, powerless. YUK! And we blame the other person.
Now there is some conflict in every family but it doesn’t have to devolve into a shouting match. The couple who called me each wanted to hurt the other (verbally) just then. I hope they were able to apologize and to forgive the hurtful words spoken in anger. Still, those words start to wear a track in the brain and if they are repeated eventually the wounds may be too deep and they may lose something precious they actually could save. Their toddler daughter would thank them for that. Worse, their next relationship will be the same as this one if they don’t learn new skills. You can’t just love the person, you must learn how to nourish the RELATIONSHIP with him or her. These skills you can learn.
Boundaries are a big problem. In our partnerships, the ecstasy of infatuation and the joys of sexual union fool us into believing we are just alike. Plus, because of the deep intimacy of sharing our bodies with someone, our boundaries collapse and we even think the other person should naturally know what we need and be prepared to provide it – we think they need the same thing. Not usually. We are each, in fact, VERY DIFFERENT. We each come to relationship with different needs, different communication styles, different values and customs for family life and more. Still, if the other person doesn’t meet our unrealistic expectation, and we don’t KNOW they are unrealistic, life can get pretty miserable for us both.
Well with our children it should be different, right? We are all they ever knew, so they fit into our family mold very nicely, right? Well, if you are a parent, you know that the little control freaks know just where to find our buttons from the very start. They assert their will until they find relief (food, diaper, cuddle) or a boundary (NO!) With our children, the intense bonding of infancy morphs into a series of different relationships at different stages of their development, each requiring us to walk a fine line somewhere between overprotection and beneficent neglect. Conflict is necessary and inevitable if the child is to individuate and be all he or she can be but needn’t be hurtful. We NEED our boundaries. I am me; you are you. Namaste!
Here are five skill sets that you can use to nourish any relationships. They come from my work in global and community peace-building. As I have learned to practice them in my own family life, it has become richer, happier, more peaceful.
- Personal Boundaries – I am comfortable in my skin, know my purpose and manage expectations of others
- and SPACE
2. Namaste Consciousness with self and everyone else
- Partnership: There are tasks to complete
- Disarmament: No one here to fight with
- Nonviolent communication – It’s magical
- Deep listening for what the other person really needs and wants
- “I messages”
- Clear & assertive requests
- Win-Win negotiations
Nourishing and loving your RELATIONSHIPS is different than loving the other person. The young couple I mentioned loves each other; they just don’t know HOW to honor each other and to nourish their RELATIONSHIP. These skill sets would help a lot. They have sure helped me.