I invite you to be totally honest with yourself. On a scale from 1 to 10, what is your commitment to your relationship now – to make it thrive, no matter what (1 means not committed at all, and 10 means totally in)?
My perception from watching what happens with couples in society, and with many of the couples we coach, is that most people keep an escape hatch slightly ajar. They’ve always got a way to escape if the going gets tough. We’ve even heard a few say, “I have one foot in, and one foot out.” In other words, they are only committed if things go the way they want – their partner says and does specific things to make them happy. If their partner and conditions don’t make them happy, they can leave. Might not be easy-peasy, but the hatch is there.
Let’s face the facts of life.
A relationship with your beloved is not always easy. And nobody can make you happy, that’s a choice that is always in your control.
What about your business or job? Is it always easy? Does it make you happy always? Probably not, yet you likely stick to that day after day, without question.
I “get” that in some relationships the 2 people have chosen to deteriorate the trust to the point where they are not willing to do what it takes to repair it. Yes, you read that correctly. If you take the blame and stories away, it’s a choice they both made.
I also know that if both people are willing to close the escape hatch, and commit to make changes to themselves, the relationship will thrive for the long-term. It can and will. But it takes commitment to your relationship.
You might be thinking, “But Dan, what if … blah, blah, blah?” OK, so let’s chunk it down into manageable pieces that anyone can handle.
Some of the couples with whom we coach are not willing to do a “till death do us part” commitment. Yet a smaller chunk of 90 days is doable for anyone, as an experiment.
What might happen for you, if each morning for the next 3 months, you verbally committed to your partner for that day – just that day? “Sweetie, today I am 100% committed to you and our relationship.”
The actual structure of your day may not be much different than before, however, it might require purposefully thinking, and doing things such as:
- Cuddling for a few minutes upon waking.
- A long, warm hug and kiss prior to heading out the door to your respective duties.
- Smiling genuinely as you look directly into your partner’s eyes.
- Verbally sharing with your partner what you love about them (physical looks, abilities, talents, skills, etc.).
- Watching for the “good things” your partner does, and showing verbal appreciation.
- Being an observer of your thoughts so anytime a “not-love” thought enters your mind, you reframe it into a “love” thought.
- Asking “What can I do to help, so your day goes joyfully?”
- Sending a text or two through the day with a message such as, “Can’t wait to see you tonight.”
- Instead of a normal, “How did your day go?”, set the stage for something more positive, “What were the best things about your day?”
- Offering to help with house and yard chores.
- Asking for an agreement for 5 or 10 minutes to go for a walk together, or to just talk.
- Agreeing to eat together – without devices, TV, or other distractions.
- Listening intently when your partner speaks – listening to understand, not defend or debate.
- If you notice any “off” feelings in yourself, becoming curious about them, knowing they have nothing to do with anything your partner said or did – it’s something within you.
- Picking and presenting a bouquet of dandelions, clover, pussy willows, or whatever is in season.
- A gentle touch on the arm or butt when you walk by.
These are small things.
Yes, yet these small things, done with kind, caring, and loving intention are what create the greatest results in your relationship.
If so, shut the escape hatch for good, throw away the key, and set your heart, mind, and body to the simple tasks that indicate 100% commitment. If you can’t do that, at least experiment with it for 90 days.
Will you slip? Absolutely. Will your partner slip? Absolutely.
When that happens, I invite you to set your ego aside, notice your slip, “own” it, apologize genuinely, state your intention of what you really want in your relationship, and start again.
A relationship is a team sport. As Carol so profoundly states, “If we don’t win as a team, I lose as an individual.”
So, what is the level of your commitment to your relationship now? Be quick and shut the escape hatch.