Getting stuck in constant conflicts and mutual accusations, we can destroy even the most precious relationship. John Amodeo, a family psychotherapist, shares his ideas for effective communication with ourselves and others so that love and intimacy would become deeper and stronger in the course of time.
How does everything begin?
Engaging in a relationship, we have only the best intentions and great hopes. However, despite our efforts, even the most touching promises are sometimes broken. What should we do in order to create a strong union with a beloved person and fulfill our cherished dreams?
Judging from his long experience of working with family couples, John Amodeo explains that typically, both partners complain about each other’s flaws and try to change each other. They are analyzing their partner’s flaws for hours being convinced that this will help to fix the situation.
For sure, we should know what’s going on since a human finds it difficult to live with indifference and doubts. But, unfortunately, we are often convinced that something is wrong with our partner, and we never consider the idea that we also may have done something wrong. John Amodeo describes three crucial factors necessary for establishing a self-sufficient partnership and friendship.
Tips about a meaningful relationship
Factor #1 Awareness
Clinging to a conviction that there is a problem with a partner is a highly unproductive way to improve a relationship. As Amodeo believes, being immersed in our own inner dialogue, we get stuck in a muddle of prejudice, subjective opinions, and interpretations.
A relationship won’t become better if we continue living in our rational sphere. For positive changes, we need to get access to another part of our being.
What can make us stop relying exclusively on reason and start listening to our heart? Love and intimacy will become stronger only if both partners develop a skill of conscious immersion in their feelings, not if they stick to the idea that a partner is “bad.” Learn to admit and express your feelings – this is the first step on the way to creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and careful moving towards each other.
Of course, it may be much more pleasant for us to analyze a partner rather than admit our own feelings which may be somewhat inconvenient. One needs to be decisive and ready to become vulnerable to look deeply in their soul and ask themselves: “What am I feeling now?” “What feelings arise in me when my partner tells or does something?”
Honestly answering these questions, we take responsibility for our own experience instead of enhancing an endless cycle of condemnations and insults. Our beliefs, requirements, and perceptions are rather dubious, but no one can deny our feelings.
Sadness, anger, fear, shame, or offense are normal human feelings. We don’t have to apologize for them. To notice, admit, and express what’s bothering you – this is a healthy beginning of a potentially successful dialogue. In this case, a partner is more likely to hear us. They won’t have to defend themselves, which is very likely to happen once we start a conversation with critical remarks and subjective convictions and beliefs about them.
Undoubtedly, it’s much easier to point out others’ flaws rather than admit our own. We should be brave enough to consciously admit, analyze, and express our own feelings.
Factor #2 Courage
It’s very easy and convenient to believe that problems and conflicts in a relationship are the partner’s mistakes. It’s easier to make up a story of what’s wrong with another person rather than ask ourselves: “How do I complicate a relationship?” We need courage and inner strength to admit and open up to a partner, to describe the feelings we consider unpleasant and which, according to our point of view, make us vulnerable and weak.
As the family psychotherapist mentions, we need to be decisive to take a break when we are offended by others’ words and actions. Automatically, a natural “hit, run away, stand still” reaction is being activated to protect us in case of a real or imaginary threat to our safety and well-being.
That’s why a relationship becomes more and more strained. Especially if one of the partners has grown up in a dysfunctional environment without forming a healthy connection with a significant other, which is very necessary for creating a safe inner basis.
We should be wise and courageous to realize what’s happening inside our soul. Indeed, once we learn to understand what we really feel, we may become calmer. This, in turn, will help us to freely express our feelings.
Factor #3 Being sincere
It may appear to us that we know how to effectively communicate with others. Yet, Amodeo suggests asking yourself: “What is the nature of my communication? Do I express my beliefs about another person or open my inner emotional world? Am I brave enough to be vulnerable or do I choose a way that seems safe to me and start criticizing my partner?”
Do we say: “You think only about yourself! You never listen to me, you are so self-centered?” Or do we try to dig deeper, understand our and our partner’s fears, imbue our relationship with care and tenderness? Are we courageous enough to say without reproaches: “I felt lonely and sad. I want to feel our connection. I like spending time with you.”
John Amodeo suggests applying Marshal Rosenberg’s method of peaceful dialogue as one of the useful approaches to communication. When we learn to pay attention to our inner life, connected with feelings and needs, we find more possibilities to open up and discuss our anxieties.
Most likely, this will touch our friend’s or partner’s heart. Looking for a deeper and more stable relationship, we have to pluck up the courage to notice what we want and feel. Also, we have to be patient enough to gradually practice a sincere expression of our inner experience.
In conclusion, it should be mentioned that a lasting meaningful relationship requires mutual efforts of both partners. Be sincere, honest, straightforward, and always respectful. Without a doubt, a truly loving and worthy of your attention person will appreciate your sincerity and make appropriate conclusions.