Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by a fellow Wealthy Mom MD, Dr. Ali Novitsky. “Dr. Ali Novitsky MD is the CEO of http://mindbodymarriage.com/. She is a certified life and weight loss coach, board-certified pediatrician, board-certified neonatologist, blogger, national speaker, and host of the podcast, “Resuscitate Your Marriage.”
Let’s face it, relationships can get complicated…if we let them. You see, we have the power to simplify our relationships by understanding a few key concepts. It is in this simplification that we can find peace and happiness.
Before we go on, I do want to make one important point. Not all relationships are meant to survive. There are some situations where drugs, alcohol, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and ongoing affairs may be involved. These factors may prevent any further relationship investment. And this is 100% acceptable. The beauty is that YOU GET TO DECIDE.
The concepts that I am about to share will allow you to think about your relationship in a whole new way. The goal is for you to see what a true investment in your relationship looks like. I will also provide real strategies for you to start using today. Sound too good to be true? Read on.
“Why Does My Partner Get on My Nerves?”
If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated with your significant other, the first concept that is essential to understanding your frustration is appreciation of “The Manual”. I did not invent the concept of The Manual – I learned about it during my training at The Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo. And- it has changed my marriage.
Let me elaborate. I always believed that I had a great marriage. We started as friends, we fell in love, we then started dating, and the rest is history. But let me back up. No relationship is perfect. Sometimes I would get frustrated when I started to think that Mark should be acting in a certain way.
I came to appreciate that my line of thinking: “Mark should be acting in a certain way” caused me to feel FRUSTRATED. With this frustration, I was short-tempered with Mark. I perceived Mark’s behaviors as him not prioritizing our relationship or undervaluing me and started to have negative thoughts about myself. I can remember thinking, “I’m not important.” And, as I result I believed that Mark SHOULD act differently so that I could feel important.
The Manual is an invisible script that lists certain expectations that we have for another person. Here is the problem. When this person does not meet these expectations (Spoiler Alert: Usually they won’t), we become disappointed. By keeping a Manual for another person, you are releasing all of your power. Why? Because you are allowing the other person to make you feel a certain way or not feel a certain way.
So what can we do? We can literally throw away The Manual. That’s right- toss that bad boy in the trash. When we release the expectations we have for another person, we cannot be disappointed. By throwing away The Manual, we are saying, “I love you exactly the way you are.”
Sound too good to be true? Throwing away The Manual is 100% effective, however, holding onto this script is our tendency. I challenge you to make this investment, guaranteed to be worthwhile.
Investing in Unconditional Love with a Positive Mindset
If we throw away the Manual, then we are able to love the other person unconditionally. Practicing unconditional love is the second tool I want to offer for you to use as you create your relationship portfolio.
I want to explain unconditional love. When we feel love, it is not the other person that is sending this feeling to us via radiofrequency. The feeling of love is generated from within us. We feel love when we think thoughts about the other person that is allowing us to feel love.
Here is an example. If you think the thought, “My spouse shows up everyday at work so he/she can provide for our family,” you may feel loved. Do you see how you are generating the feeling of love because you are thinking certain thoughts about the other person?
You can choose to feel love anytime you want. When you choose to feel love, then your actions will reflect that feeling of love. Your result will be that you truly appreciate your spouse for his/her hard work which will allow you to generate more and more unconditional love. This investment will benefit everyone."You can choose to feel love anytime you want. When you choose to feel love, then your actions will reflect that feeling of love." -Dr. Ali Novitsky MD Click To Tweet
Maybe you are having a hard time accepting the concept of unconditional love. I understand. Perhaps your significant other does something that really bothers you. Let me give you an example. Perhaps your spouse makes it a point to comment on other attractive people constantly. You find this hurtful.
Communicate More Effectively by Setting Boundaries
Let me introduce you to investment number 3. Setting a boundary. Setting a boundary is something that most of us do not do. This boundary, when set appropriately, will allow you to communicate a rule to your partner. When you set a rule verbally, you do not have an invisible Manual, but instead a clear guideline of what you expect from the other person.
It is very important that you understand how to set a boundary. If the boundary is not set properly, then you will dig a deep hole. Why? Because you will not be taken seriously.
To set a boundary, here are the exact steps to follow. Your partner says, “did you see that beautiful woman who just walked in, she is unreal.” You will then say, “when you make comments about other women in front of me, it is hurtful.” Your next statement should go as follows. “If you continue to make these comments in front of me, I will walk away from you.”
Remember…if your spouse continues to comment on other women, then you must stick to the boundary you set and walk away. By investing in boundary setting, you truly simplify things. You are being 100% open about what you expect. This will increase your feeling of empowerment in your relationship. This feeling of empowerment is because you believe that you are standing up for yourself- and you are. Setting a boundary is increasing your perceived value in the relationship. Now that’s an investment.
What is Your Partner’s Love Language?
What about love language? The 4th worthwhile investment in your relationship is understanding your partners love language. Here is why this investment is so important: By understanding your partner’s love language, you are opening up the channels for communication. How so? When you invest in showing your partner his/her love language, they will think thoughts that make them feel loved.
Here is an example. Let’s say that partner A’s love language is physical touch. Partner B’s love language is giving gifts. If partner B recognizes that partner A likes to be touched, and he/she provides physical touch, then partner A will feel love.
Partner A may be thinking, “my significant other cares about my needs.” The love that partner A feels will very often result in actions that will make partner B feel love. If partner A recognizes that partner B likes gifts and brings home flowers, partner B will feel love because he/she is thinking, “my significant other cares about my needs.”
Do you see how understanding your partners love language sets the stage for great communication? Why? Because it eliminates some of the barriers that would prevent good communication.
The next investment is probably the most difficult one. It may feel like a risky investment because you will need to put your ego aside and allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Rewrite Your Story by Letting Go of Pain from the Past
Investment Tip #5 is letting go of pain from the past. If we decide that our relationship is worth keeping, then we have to be willing to let go of the past. If we do not let go of the past, then we will carry resentment and not be able to move on to a better place.
It may seem impossible to let go of the past in certain situations. So, how do you even start? The first step is to have an honest and open conversation with your significant other so you both can express your side of the story.
The next step is to process. Processing all of this information can take days, weeks, months, or even longer. In fact, you may need to invest in professional help through therapy or life coaching to guide you through this process.
When the time is right, the strategy is to rewrite the story. You will rewrite the story in a way that allows you to release resentment. This release will allow you to glide into the future with hope. This investment is a powerful tool in saving your relationship.
I do think it is important to know that if you do not feel that you will ever be able to rewrite the story, then what you may need is time. On the other hand, you may decide that the story should not be rewritten. This is strong evidence that you may be ready to move on.
Scheduling Time for Your Relationship Every Week Will Pay Off
Finally, the 6th investment is making time. Scheduling dedicated time to your relationship is similar to contributing a fixed amount of money every pay period into a retirement account. Every time you commit to special 1:1 time, you are inviting intimacy into your relationship. Over time, this intimacy builds and you have comfort in knowing that you are accumulating collateral.
We are all very busy. You may be thinking that setting time aside may feel impossible for you. I want to encourage you that it is quite possible. The trick to making this happen is to simply put it on the schedule. I highly recommended making time once per week to connect with your significant other. My best advice is to keep it simple.
Start small. You do not need to make these investments all at once. Decide which investments speak to you. Most importantly, open your mind and consider how a shift in your thoughts can bring high dividends to your relationship everyday.