A Healthy relationship is not easy to achieve. I see a lot of couples, sometimes I am called a marriage counselor or other times a couples counsellor. I am sometimes asked the question what is a good relationship? And what is a troubled relationship
Perhaps you know when you are in a bad relationship but you don’t necessarily know when you are in a good relationship and perhaps there’s a sense of those Joni Mitchell lyrics – ‘Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone, they’ve paved Paradise, put up a parking lot..’
If we thought this way, we’d search for the good feelings, the golden nuggets. Even saying our relationship is ‘crap’, in the interest of noticing the Paradise before they put up a parking lot, there’d be a wondering, asking the question, is there gold underneath? if this relationship were to end, what might I look back on in this relationship? and would it be with a sense of nostalgia or deep sadness for the loss?
If you could score your relationship out of ten and perhaps you have done so and can easily do this now, perhaps you think you’ll give it a pretty low score, but this time, just don’t stop there. Instead this time, continue the exercise by asking yourself what it would take to bring it up just a single notch. What would your relationship look like if it was better now by just one notch? Really see that as specifically as you can now. What would you be doing? Perhaps smiling a bit more; would you make eye contact in that moment? Would you perhaps feel a little lighter inside? Who would notice? What would they notice? What would they say? What would that mean to those people who notice, perhaps your children, or your friends. What would it mean to you?
Notice how solution searching like this creates a certain kind of feeling? Isn’t this a different feeling to the glum feeling generated from negative focussed or problem focussed thinking, or ruminating. Noticing that?
Ruminating is the art of creating depression. It is a sort of negative focus in the hope that it will create a solution or at least protect you from false optimism and disappointment, the sort of belief is that when ‘it all goes pear shape’ you will be prepared. Now that it’s laid out like that, do you notice any flaw in this thinking? Ever heard of self-fulfilling prophesising?
In truth every thought creates a feeling and has consequences for our relationships. Act for today as if all your thoughts would be written up in huge letters for all to read for today. Then only allow those thoughts that you would be proud of and could defend if necessary. Really our thoughts kind of are writ up large like that. Not literally, obviously, but others do kind of know. When you come to think about it, don’t you kind of know what others think of you? Who loves you, who just doesn’t really get you.
What do you think you may be not getting about someone else?
So let’s leave it at that for now. Notice what you will miss from this relationship if you ended as a couple. Notice now what you would need to feel better, even just a small bit better, enough to up the score out of 10 by one point. What would it mean to you? Who would see it happening and what would they see and hear? Finally, when you have a list of answers to those questions, ask yourself how many did you have of those moments this last week? And how do you feel when you think of those moments?