I am about to return to a relationship with a man I am married to, but have lived away from for the last five years. I am going to try again, but need some new communication skills. Please help.
This relationship must have some really wonderful components if it has endured living apart for five years and holds enough promise for you to uproot your current life and move back into it. I am excited for you and the possibilities your decision holds.
Ultimately, when deciding to make a marriage work, it is important to ask yourself “What would I do if divorce (or living 3000 miles apart) were not an option—and living miserably or unhappily were not an option either?” Since we cannot change the other person, we realize that the only thing we can do is to change our own behavior, approach, words, and actions, and allow the other person to be who they are, make their own mistakes, and to choose their own life lessons.
Learning to transcend our egos is critical in creating healthy relationships. Ego is that part of us that judges, criticizes, blames and argues—and it flares continuously for most of us. The best way to transcend the ego is to become self-observant all the time. Practice by asking yourself, “What am I thinking now? What am I feeling now?” and simply notice what is going on with you—especially when you are being triggered by someone else.
Sometimes you will notice that you are feeling judged by the other person and that is triggering your defenses and your ego’s need for approval.
Sometimes when being self-observant, you will notice that you are the one judging, which is about your ego’s need for control. In that moment, rather than letting ego dictate your behavior, take a deep breath and CHOOSE words and actions in alignment with your goal of making this relationship work—joyfully and healthfully.
Love is our true goal, but the ego is confused in how to do this. The need for control is the ego’s confused version of loving and the need for approval is the ego’s confused version of being loved. Ego is always, always, always what blocks being love in a relationship. Thus, when we recognize the ego in action (through self-observation) we are afforded the opportunity to make a new choice and honor our goal to love and be loved, instead of ego. This takes practice and you can start now, before you go back to your marriage, by consciously being self-observant and practicing choosing words and actions that honor your true goals and values in any given situation.
Ironically, we so often declare that we want love but then our words and actions are unconsciously generated by ego/head instead of from our souls/heart. In other words, our stated destination is love and joy, but our steps all lead elsewhere. We need to “train the brain to start with heart.”
We also need to be honest in our communication, but honest with purpose. Meaning that we need to pass what we are going to tell someone through the “test” of asking ourselves, “Is this purposeful or helpful to tell the other person? Is this something that they can do anything about? Is there a way to say it that is not hurtful? Is what I have to say truly a statement about them, or is it really revealing something about my need for approval or control? Is this being said from heart or from ego?”
I’ve found that I can be “brutally honest” with people saying exactly what I see going on with them, when I am saying it 100% from a place of wanting the best for them. If any of my own ego (judgment) comes into the answer or feedback, they resist and aren’t able to receive my words. Thus, their ability to hear what I say is entirely dependant on the energy with which I say it.
Intellectual Foreplay Question of the Week: What is the spirit behind your words and actions?
Love Tip of the Week: Pay attention to what you say and what you truly want the result of your words to be. If your intention is to inflict hurt or judgment, then best to turn your analysis on yourself, as you are not yet ready to speak.