For many years of my life, I looked outside of myself for love and happiness.
I thought once I finished school, once I met the right guy, once I had settled into my career.
Yet I found that as soon as I checked off the boxes, new empty boxes seemed to appear.
In the beginning of my marriage to a great man, I was constantly looking at him to make me happy with no recognition of the fact that this was what I was doing. I didn’t understand why I still didn’t feel full, why I still felt like such a victim to my circumstances. This mentality would cause my mood to change on a whim—it was completely dependent upon what others did or didn’t do.
As a result of living in this state of mind, many of my relationships were frayed.
The relationship I had with my husband had become one filled with tension and resentment. He felt responsible for my happiness (which was an impossible task), and felt he was failing miserably.
Eventually he realized it was hopeless and stopped trying.
I had no idea what I was doing wrong or how to fix it.
I had read lots of self-help books and talked to many professionals, but nothing clicked.
It wasn’t until I met an amazing relationship coach who told me within the first five minutes that I was taking no accountability for my own internal state, and that my happiness was an inside job.
She defended my husband as I talked about all the things he was doing wrong, and she in turn told me that I was blaming him for something he had no control over. She was honest in telling me continuing this pattern and lack of awareness would lead to him pulling away completely.
I remember being completely blown away by her honesty, while also feeling incredibly saddened by this truth.
At the same time, though, I also felt slightly empowered by this insight and realization that I was in control of my own emotions and that I actually have the ability to choose how I want to feel.
I started to really dive deeper into this idea, exploring my own lack of self-worth, self-love, and compassion. In doing this, I slowly put the focus back on myself and stopped making my emotions the responsibility of the person I was closest to, my husband. I started taking personal responsibility for how I was feeling.
The ability to manage difficult emotions is one of the most valuable skills we can bring to a relationship.
It’s the ability to experience intense feelings with the knowledge and trust that they are temporary and that they will pass. When we can step back and recognize this, it inspires a strong connection and love with our partner. We are then capable of being authentic without spilling everything onto another person.
This also applies when we are upset with our partner for something specific.
I notice that when I’m angry or upset, the same past emotions kick in: the need to take action immediately, feelings of urgency, the need to be right, and to make my point.
I now know to be still with such emotions when they come up. I recognize this as a trigger, and that it is all temporary. I have the trust that if I still have something to say in a few days after all of the intense emotions have passed, I will find a way to communicate it. I then communicate from a place of peace. I know that I will not be simply reacting and acting out of emotion. That impulsive space leads to regret and will not serve me well personally or in the relationship.
The ability to turn inward and take care of our emotional state is powerful for us and the relationship.
It builds an internal strength and discipline, it is empowering, it creates a sense of pride when reflecting upon how much growth has occurred, and it shows a trust in the world and relationship.
Self-care is one of those phrases that is tossed about, yet it is critical to understand what this is and how it holds us accountable in being responsible for our emotional state. If we are not feeling good, the first tendency is to look for the “whys” underneath that. The easiest “why” to find is to blame someone else, and usually our partner is the first in line.
The truth of it often is that we are not feeling good because we are not giving ourselves the love and care we need.
In reality, it has nothing to do with the relationship.
This shift can change everything. I know it did in my relationship, and it has changed the lives of many women I have had the privilege of working with.
In healing our relationships with our partner, we are ultimately healing our relationship with ourselves.
“As a Certified Relationship Coach with a Masters in Social Work, my passion is helping my clients figure out what’s not working in their relationship and their lives and getting them back on track. I have techniques, scripts and personal experience that you can learn from and use to turn your love life around to find and keep the man of your dreams.” Jen Michelle’s powerful book, “When He Walks Through The Door” applies to any stage of love, whether you’re dating, in a new relationship, or want to attract a man back!