How to Change Old Relationship Habits.
The longer a couple has been together, the more established the habits are in a relationship. Once a couple enters and exits the power struggle stage, many bad habits start to define the relationship and bring with them negativity. In time, couples forget how effortlessly the relationship operated in the earlier years. They take for granted that it is characteristic of any long-term relationship. Individuals in relationships arrive at the point of contention and defend the need to stand one’s ground. It is assumed that an elicitation of a negative emotion must be avoided at all costs and someone other than themselves must be to blame. It is an interesting dynamic that takes place, transitioning the couple from one of two self-happy and independent individuals into one of two co-dependent individuals. I call this self-centric or pride-centric and partner-centric relationship models. It is no surprise how an early relationship can survive and thrive, and it is not all infatuation or a false ideal image. The true engenderment of success in an early relationship is that responsibility of one’s own happiness.
How do we, then, break the new habits that have been in place for some number of years? The first step is to empower the logical mind. In fact, it is the main advice that I proffer to individuals for bettering relationships and self-happiness. In this case, empowering the logical mind involves becoming aware of one’s thoughts, judgements and feelings. There is an incredible amount of information that flows from the inner mind that never is questioned or given full attention. The ramblings of the inner voice are, with few exceptions, utterly full of nonsense. We allow the inner voice to dominate our lives because its voice is loud, assertive and has a direct and short distance to cover with its words.
By paying attention to the thoughts and feelings, one, inevitably may become embarrassed that they even listen to that nonsense, let alone following the advice. We can do this by writing the thoughts and feelings down. We can also write down whether it is true or untrue. Whatever it is, the more we guide our attention towards the thoughts and feelings, the better. As we bring new levels of awareness, we build emotional intelligence. It is as if a dark room is illuminated when guiding our attention towards a negative thought or feeling.
You may notice a negative emotional reaction when rejected by your partner for sex or cuddling. The pain is only half of the observation. The underlying information that is being relayed is that you desire more connectedness with your partner. It hurts to be rejected because the request was actually a gift from your heart. Giving, in relationships, is the true reason an individual is made happy. Even in sex, a man is not fully satisfied unless he brings satisfaction to his partner. It not only helps his self-esteem and manliness, but feels as though he gave a gift to his partner. When rejected, it may feel as though his gifts are unwanted. A habit may quickly be formed. The man may learn to no longer offer this “gift” or do so more sparingly.
The result of this logical analysis will be an elicited desire to change. The desire to have sex or cuddle is only the superficial aspect. How to bring about this change never receives any attention. The typical tool that one will use, whether realized or not, is the negative emotional reaction. Relationships degrade into hostage scenarios in which the partner must give in or face the wrath of a negative emotion. individuals wrongly believe that their partner is to blame for their hurt feelings. As such, they must coerce their partner into fulfilling what truly is a need. This habit becomes so ingrained that they never doubt or question its employment. This is truly the definition of insanity. The first thing a logical analysis will identify is that this habit has failed for a number of years, potentially for decades. An individual will inevitably question whether or not there is at least another way to achieve their goal: connectedness. Often, individuals will come to this conclusion and take the steps necessary to participate in couples counseling. While I disagree with that rush to judgment, it is not the focus of this article. After the initial logical analysis of identifying and labeling the thoughts and feelings, the mind focuses on possible solutions to the problem. I recommend the use of compassion or empathy. An individual may realize that there are two parts of the relationship and they have been focused for so long on their own feelings and blaming their partner for not living up to the pre-defined expectations.
While this is not the entire solution, it is a considerably good start, as empowerment of the logical mind serves an individual through the emotional transformation and ever after. It may seem overly simplistic to advise individuals to simply think, and this will solve all of their problems. Well, it is, in fact, the truth. One is their own master, or their own counselor. They just have to develop these skills and become experienced in them to do so. The process is well-established, and many have done so and live very fulfilling lives as a result. I don’t advise an individual to become smarter. They don’t need to earn a degree, or another one. They only need to use what they already have: their brain. It isn’t that the answers are hidden inside of there somewhere in a vault. It’s that the inner voice’s ramblings would have never passed the logical mind’s scrutiny to begin with.
Do yourself a favor. If you want to change old habits, just think. Don’t just listen to the incessant ramblings of the inner voice. Guide and direct your own thoughts.