The media’s image of love can give us lots of dangerous ideas. The idea that true love should be easy is perhaps the most ludicrous and damaging one of them all. For my husband and I, love has certainly not always been easy. However, it’s in beating the obstacles that we continue grow together, love together, and become who we are as individuals and as a couple. Our marriage has been one of the best experiences of my life because we beat some common relationship killers.
I SINCERELY WISH THE SAME SENSE OF CHALLENGE AND VICTORY FOR YOU.
Here are four of the biggest relationship obstacles – and some tips on how to overcome them:
Resentment builds when we hold on to our anger rather than working through it. Often, we feel that, if we push it down with enough force, the problem will disappear entirely. Unfortunately, anger and fear only grow more powerful in the dark. When we do not address our feelings, they end up bubbling up in ways that are unfair to our partner. We might even end our relationship in a moment of anger, without even realizing why we are so upset in the first place.
Resentment can be overcome with honesty, courage, and communication. Examine your soul in a deep and thorough capacity. Draw out your anger, however painful it may be, and investigate it. Try to understand it. Look for the source. Share it with your partner. These feelings will not look as harmful or intimidating once you put them in the light.
Criticism of yourself and judgement of others may seem like very different things. However, they come from exactly the same place. We judge and criticize when we fail to acknowledge that our sense of worth in the universe is inherent, unchangeable, and equal to everyone else’s. All too often, we doubt ourselves and feel unsure of our place in the world. This is when we look to outward marks of success to define ourselves and others – often in competition with one another. This invariably leads to unhappiness and insecurity.
We can fight the urge to judge ourselves and others by harnessing our capacity for compassion, humility, and understanding. Look to yourself and the people around you with the understanding that we are all human. We are all imperfect and in need of love. Make an effort to stay “right sized”. You are no bigger or smaller than anyone else. Their successes and failures do not have the power to diminish or to emphasize your own.
We have all done things that we are not proud of. Shame is insidious, because it serves as fuel for every other dynamic on this list. When we feel ashamed, we decrease our sense of self-worth. We change our internal image of who we are. When we allow ourselves to wallow in shame, we give up our chance to move forward. Shame often feels like the correct moral response to wrongdoing. However, it does not allow us to grow or to make things right.
Shame can be overcome with transparency, repentance, and growth. Share honestly with your partner about what you have done. Tell them how the guilt has affected you. Get all of the negativity off your chest. Then, go out into the world and make things right again. If you stole something, pay for it. If you hurt someone, apologize. Rather than hiding your experience in the closet, use it as a learning opportunity. Commit to living your life differently from this point forward.
I’ve yet to come across a couple whose relationship has not been touched by fear. As humans, we are afraid of so, so many things! We fear loneliness, and we fear intimacy. We fear failure, and we fear success. Most of all, we are afraid of being hurt. Nowhere does this manifest more powerfully than in our relationships. We will fight the potential for heartbreak with everything we’ve got. Ironically, this instinct itself is what most often causes things to fall apart.
Fear can be worked through with insight, courage, and clarity. Be intentional when you examine your fear. Be honest with yourself. What are you really afraid of? Where is this fear coming from? Is it fair and rational, or is it a manifestation of a deeply held pain and insecurity? Once you have identified your fear, you have taken away its power. Now you have the choice to either listen to it, or shut it down with courage and confidence.
“Some people need a super hero to save them, but I am my own super hero. All I need is myself, my strengths and the fiery passions in my heart to overcome the obstacles in my life,” wrote Imania Margria. Don’t wait for a magical moment to save your relationship. Create one instead. Become your own hero.
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