Are you Struggling With Breaking Negative Cycles In Your Relationship?
In a previous blog, we identified negative patterns or cycles in a relationship. They are easy to develop as most of us carry some baggage or damage from life and/or previous relationships that we bring into our current one. The key to breaking negative cycles, then, is to become responsible for the person in the relationship that you do have some control over – YOU! Below are some ideas to help you do some self-work and clarify what is happening and what you can do to break the cycle. It only takes one person to break a cycle or change a pattern! Below are six things that you can do to understand, recognize and clarify your negative patterns and six actions that you can take to begin to change them.
Understand, Recognize and Clarify
- Stop the blame game. It doesn’t help to try to fix blame on your partner. Instead, recognize that your relationship in its current state is something that you both have created. As stated earlier, begin with yourself and own your part in it all.
- Clarify what you want. You want to establish new patterns of relating to one another, but if you and your partner could connect in new and more loving ways, how would that look? Also, clarify how you want to feel in this marriage. Do you want to feel peaceful or secure? Is your deepest desire for companionship? Write a personal vision statement for what you are looking for from this relationship. It will help you work through whatever changes you need to make to establish new patterns and break old cycles. You need to know that the energy and effort that go into changing are worth it!
- Identify the behaviors of you and your partner. What are the behaviors in the interactions that you have with each other? Make a record of them and identify who does or says what. For some ideas on this, refer to the blog entitled, “Recognizing Negative Patterns in Your Relationship.” For example, do you blame, judge, isolate, sandbag, etc.?
- Evaluate the behaviors. Think about each of your behaviors and evaluate each one. Ask yourself, “Is this behavior working? Is it benefitting me? Is it helping our relationship?” Exactly what effect is the behavior having in your life?
- Determine the triggers. Do you know what circumstances, behaviors, or words trigger you? For example, what do you say or do that pushes your partner’s hot button? Similarly, how do they trigger you?
- Understand the source. Your negative cycle or pattern did not begin with your partner, nor theirs with you. Where do you think that this trigger or hot button came from? Try to remember as far back as you can to the earliest time that you had this feeling. When was it that you first felt misunderstood, rejected, attacked, not a priority, etc.? If possible, have this conversation with your mate so that you can better understand each other at this deeper level.
- Forgive yourself. It could be that you feel guilty when you realize what part of the negativity in the relationship can be attributed to you. However, don’t wallow in pity or “what-if’s.” Instead, own what is yours to own, apologize without the expectation that your mate will reciprocate, make amends where possible, and let yourself off the hook. Forgiving oneself is not easy, but it is critical to healing and moving forward in your life, and building a healthy relationship.
- Be proactive about conflict. Do your best to resolve conflict as soon as it arises. If you need help with your conflict resolution skills, engage a relationship coach or counselor. In just a short time, you can learn how to resolve conflict. But, of course, it takes practice. You could also check out the blog on this website entitled, “Make Conflict Work for Your Relationship.”
- Be realistic. Don’t expect things to change overnight. It took a while to develop these negative patterns, and it will take time and practice to break them. Give grace to your mate and yourself. You might even check out our Live Marriage Event.
- Increase your affection. When was the last time that you and your mate hugged, held hands, or cuddled? “Well, pardner, that’s too long!” In Recon Coaching, we encourage couples to engage in 10-Second Hugs. Either partner can initiate the hug, and the idea is to hold each other in your arms for no less than 10 seconds. It’s amazing what a calming effect this can have. If you want to kick it up a notch, try 10-Second Kisses! Affection is part of the glue that holds two people together. Affection doesn’t resolve issues or change behaviors, but it can create a loving atmosphere that is conducive to change. Try it!
- Accentuate the positive. It’s so easy to point out what is wrong with yourself, your mate, and your relationship. Instead, each day be grateful for the good in each other and the relationship. Make a gratitude list. Find something each day to compliment or thank your mate for. Like affection, this will also help create the environment for breaking negative patterns and creating positive ones.
- Start today! You don’t have to have all the answers to begin to change and eliminate negative cycles and patterns. In fact, by reading this blog, you have already started! You won’t be perfect, but you will make progress. Progress, not perfection, is the goal.