This post is a response to a question from one our Soul Workout readers. Do you have a question you would like addressed? Submit your anonymous question.
Question: ” I have a pattern of leaving relationships instead of working things out. I don’t even know how does one work things out?”
Reply: All of us — yes, even the writers of these Soul Workouts — are imperfect people. And we don’t always know how to work things out. So welcome to the club. However, one thing we do know — and one thing we are absolutely committed to — is to build happy lives. To work on having fulfilling marriages and intact homes and families.
That unwavering and unconditional commitment carries us even when things are not clear, and when we are faced with everyday annoyances, misunderstandings, arguments, and resentments in relationships.
Here then are some tips to building and maintaining healthy relationships. (These tips obviously don’t replace the need to consult friends or professionals that know you, especially when dealing with serious issues of abuse).
Focus on What You Want to Build
Instead of dwelling on yourself and what will make you happy, focus on what you want to create and build. What type of relationship? What type of home and family? Instead of thinking about your needs and what you want in the relationship, think about what give and what you bring to the relationship. Take responsibility for the relationship you build.
When you are committed to a relationship, the relationship itself comes before whatever issue you are having with your spouse. You might be right; your spouse might be right; both of you might be wrong; both of you might be right — it doesn’t matter. What matters is the relationship. Sometimes you gotta back down in an argument in the name of the relationship.
Do Not Pursue Perfection
Nothing and no one in the physical world is perfect. Settle for — and appreciate — good enough. When our spouses do things that we find to be imperfect and/or annoying, we remind ourselves that they are good people who are wonderful in most ways. If something our spouses are doing is very disruptive or annoying, we respectfully ask him or her to stop lest we let small irritations build up to a big explosion of suppressed frustrations. But our general motto is, “Live and let live.”
Put In More Than You Withdrew During the Argument
Picture your relationship like a bank account: You don’t want a deficit. When you and your spouse get annoyed at each other, you’re withdrawing from the bank. In order that your relationship doesn’t deteriorate into a series of disagreements and misunderstandings, you’ve got to put healthy, happy experiences in the bank. This means reminding yourselves of your shared mission in life and doing things aligned with that mission. It also means taking the time to enjoy each other’s company — to remember why you are together in the first place.