Relationship Ideas for 2022
Some of what I do in my partnership isn’t working, as evidence by getting into it (over the same issues)over and again. So, for ‘22 I commit to trying something new. As individuals, and in our partnerships, we can all grow, don’t you think? That might mean trying something new, using a new skill. Here are some of my ideas.
I will base any relationship skills I use on empathy: If I do that or say that, how will that make my partner, feel? (The work is in the feeling badly and not reacting. Yes, it’s work).
I will use communication skills, as often as I am aware, in any given moment (awareness means I will Become The Observer. Without being the Observer, I don’t speak as empathetically).
I’m drawn to Marshall Rosenberg’s Non Violent Communication (NVC) as it provides an empathetic framework, which when I use (it’s hard at first, but gets easier with practice), my communication with my partner improves, as evidenced by our easier resolution of issues since using this style of communication. My husband was resistant at first, but has softned since he witnesses the technique as a helpful framework for disagreement.
For you who are new to NVC, and or who can use to improve your communication skills, (really, who can’t?)here are key components:
- Use Observational language (1st component of NVC)to describe what’s happening in the given moment. Take out the exaggerated language (the always and the nevers)and take out the “you” language (which, leaves using “I” language which, means I will take responsibility for myself-no blame, no one is the cause of my behavior, sure my partner may be a variable but not the cause). Also, take out the assumptions, which are often rooted in judgment.
- Here’s sample language: “When you do this (just the observations, ‘mam) I feel this emotion” (the 2nd component of NVC- but beware the faux feelings like “I feel lonely” (a feeling)versus “I feel abandoned,” (a faux feeling)after all abandonment would be my experience (or judgment), not a fact of the matter.
- I will share what I value or need ( 3rd componant of NVC). Here are typical universal needs/values, which are helpful to recognize to humanize our partnerships, and furthermore, they say depression is a state of alienation of our unmet needs! We all seek: sustenance, compassion, protection, rest, understanding, meaning, autonomy, play and interdependence. Seeking to express what my needs and values are may sound like this: “When you walk away when I am speaking, I feel sad and disconnected, because I value our connection…”
- And I will make an ask, not a demand (4th component), which can sound like this: “Would you be willing to explore this with me now?”
- Non verbal body language matters, by the way. (eye rolling or eye daggers don’t match the premise of communication to build relationship. I will soften my belly (try it, it’s a thing) and soften my eyes (that’s more elusive, but I think it means seeing your person with eyes of compassion. Using the breath to anchor your words helps).
I will continue to use this structure for communication, and try and make it a natual extension of my truth, for THE IMPROVEMENT OF MY PARTNERSHIP (sorry for screaming, I am just excited to have a framework to offer the best of me- through speaking my truth in empathy as a way to join with my partner!).
What do you love, or put great effort toward, or are great at? Cleaning or organizing your home? Working out? Art? Writing? Playing music? Coding? Yoga? Yoga is my identified “I make a great effort toward ”. I will make my partnership my yoga, my great effort toward. That doesn’t take away from the value of doing yoga regularly. Au contraire. It has been a way for me to deeply get to Know, again and again, the inner, quieter me. It is this part that I try and draw from in my relationship dance. May it continue to be so.
Listen. Without an agenda (that means I am not planning my comeback, another easier than done skill). And to demonstrate that I heard what my partner said, I will tell him what I understood that he said. If I don’t get it right, I’ll ask for him to say it again until he feels understood.
I will not take your behavior personally. You have a history that helps explain how you are showing up. You are not a reflection of me, but of you, and your story. I will try and remember this. As I remember this, I won’t knee jerk to make your behavior about me.
I have a daily wellness practice that contributes to my wellness and therefore my partnership. As you know, it’s yoga based. It’s mindfulness based. It wants more compassion (I can be hard on myself too). It’s pretty regular. It’s my coming home, again and again.
I use my practice as a vehicle to develop a keener relationship with mySelf. As I get to know me on the mat, I get to Know me with the goal of bringing that Knowing to my life off the mat (where the work is!)
In the knowing, I will continue to challenge myself to consider what I am thinking, feeling, believing, sensing at any moment (yes, the Observer!) and try and meet my experience with increasing grace and compassion. That means meeting my angst and my judgments and pausing. In the pause, I offer me compassion.
I will try and show up from that place, as often as I can, so when I am triggered, I have an internal resource: that quiet peace WITHIN me from which to respond.
If I offer me compassion, I can more easily offer you compassion.
I will continue to honor my boundaries, and learn and relearn what they are by honoring my evolving needs and values at any moment. Shout out to check on boundaries to social media (doom scrolling, numb scrolling, compare scrolling)and news. That’s never been good for me or us when it’s out of balance- not enough IRL, nature, connection. When there is too much social media and news, we suffer, for all sorts of reasons. More on that for another post.
Can we do this healthier dance despite living through a pandemic? Can we do this healthier dance despite living in a deeply divided country/world?
Our nervous systems are more activated now (sympathetic arousal, fight, flight, fright or beyond- into a freeze). We are all braced for the unknown and it makes this relationship work even more challenging.
That’s why it’s more integral to take time daily for wellness, for rest (check out Judith and Lizzie Lasater on Restorative Yoga) , to turn off our phones and turn off the news.
We each must become the ease we want to experience in the world. It starts with me and with you. So yes, let this New Year, be a portal to a healthier dance.
What resonates with you? Do you have intentions for your partnerships? Are you interested in creating a healthier relationship dance? What about a wellness practice?
I wanted to say fuck you to 2021 and then I remembered, again. BE the peace I want to see in the world and then send it out to the world. we need it.
Here’s this piece in list format, to summarize (maybe print out?):
- Breathe. Ground your feet. Become the Observer (BTO). Respond from here. Right here and now, you have CHOICE to respond instead of react.
- Try Something New!
3. Communicate with Empathy (make your language matter) (this is from Non-Violent Communication) Say what is (Observation) without judgment! And then say what you Feel.(Here are some feelings words: sad, troubled, worried, disappointed, confused, upset, angry, lonely, frustrated, suspicious, insecure, bored, uncertain)
Based upon your Values (Here are some values that we have and need met: physical wellbeing, peace, choice, confidence, competence, pleasure, connection, adventure, honesty, meaning/purpose, respect, support, intimacy)And then, make an request(NOT a demand!). Watch your non verbals!
4. Make the partnership as valuable as your work, exercise, or friends.
5. Listen without agenda and reflect what you heard until you get it right!
6. Their behavior is about them not you; don’t’ make it about you! The do here is PAUSE (BTO)
7. Incorporate a Daily Wellness Practice that brings compassion to your Self (put in calendar!)
8. Set Healthy Boundaries (between you and others and for yourself with news and social media)
9. Rest to restore your nervous system.
10. Begin again.
Relationships can be the most challenging and the most rewarding parts of our lives. They take intention and effort. We must challenge the old patterns that no longer serve us. We must take care of ourselves to take care of our partnerships. If you are interested in joining a group on communication in relationships, reach out to Jane Mizrahi, LICSW at Groups@groupsworks.com