A friend of mine recently asked me about relationship routines and ruts. My friend believes, he and his wife are in a rut. He and his wife have a quick dinner managing the kids, then bathtime, and after the kids are asleep, they turn on their favorite TV program. He says he tries to engage his wife but “she is always angry or upset with me.” Have you found yourself in a relationship rut?
Being a mother of a one-year-old and running a business there are some days that I welcome routine. I wait for my few moments of alone time watching Friends on Netflix and then lights out. Ahhhh another day complete. Honestly, I know that checking out on Friends doesn’t build a deep connection with my husband and it doesn’t nourish in my soul. So why do I always go back to it? The evenings I watch Netflix are days that I have stretched myself so far with my son, at work and being vulnerable. Being able to turn on Netflix and “check my mind out” feels comforting. It is my avoidance pattern. We all have little patterns with the ones we love – avoidances, unrealistic expectations, judgments, misunderstandings, upsets, or drama.
BUT what good does it bring my life and relationship with my partner?
Lately, I’ve been gracefully checking myself with the question “What am I hoping for in this……?” You get to fill in the blank (conversation, activity, discussion, time on social media, etc.).
Back to my friend, as I listened to him share, I was able to hear that my friend did not feel appreciated. It is easy for him to turn to TV instead of sharing his vulnerability with his wife. Turning away for fear of being rejected, not heard, misunderstood or unappreciated happens so often in relationships. It leads to the “distance” we feel from our partners.
When I am working with a client who says they don’t express their feelings or upsets with their partner, I know there is fear. It is usually a good indication that the couple is not sharing truths or emotions of love and this can lead to relationship burnout.
Here is what I shared with my friend when he asked my advice. First, I celebrated his willingness to share his experience! It can be hard to share what is “really” going on in a relationship and paint a facade for the world. Second, I celebrated his desire to want something different for the future; he intends to grow as a couple. I asked if he could identify with feeling unappreciated and that his love was being repelled. He agreed, appreciation and love acceptance where his core feelings and needs. Then I shared with him two tools on how to understand his love styles and approach conversations with his wife differently.
Here are the tools to deepen your understanding of your love style
- Watch a video on the Four Love Styles from Tony Robbins, look at this 5-minute video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rpjney649dw. This powerful video allows you to see how you give love to the world. There are 4 Love Styles, style one and two are often unfulfilling and cause a knee-jerk reaction from the world. They are confusing ways to give and receive love and cause pain. Style three and four are richer ways to share love and often are returned with powerful moments of warmth and a divine connection. These techniques can diminish anger, resentment, hurt and even something as debilitating as war. True love is born from these styles.
- Take this love attachment style assessment – How We Love – https://www.howwelove.com/love-style-quiz/. How We Love is an assessment tool that helps you better understand how you attach to other humans. This data offers great insight into the relationships we create and how we feel in our relationships.
I am curious, what is an activity you might rely on when you are nervous or fearful to express vulnerably with your partner. What might be the pattern in your way? I truly believe learning more about ourselves is valuable to our relationship wellbeing.
Let me know how it goes and what questions you have for me.
Molly Hillig Rodriguez