The Question That Will Save Your Relationship
Recently, I had a come-to-Jesus moment about my relationship. You’ve probably been in a similar situation, one in which you’re on your knees, or curled up in bed, praying for clarity, resolution, or the smallest amount of peace. Typically, you get to this point when it occurs to you that you’ve fucked up, and the only thing you can do once this sets in is to pray, even if your praying turns to begging.
These moments, whether they involve an explosive fight, a shouting match, or an hour of sulking after dinner as you withdraw from your partner as he reaches out to touch you, are defining moments. You may think it’s just one more argument, or one brief glimmer of time when I don’t want to communicate with my partner, but it’s in these moments when you have to decide whether you’re going to grow distant from your partner, or grow closer. With less of these moments than you can imagine, a couple can go from having a close, intimate relationship to growing cold and distant. At the very moment when you are annoyed at your partner and ready to pull away, at that very second when you have a choice: to apologize, to embrace your partner, or to forgive, you must ask yourself a single question, because this one question has the power to save your relationship.
What would my life be like without my partner?
In the middle of a fight, when the dirty dishes are overflowing out of the sink, when your partner forgot to do the one thing you asked him to do, and when he said something so insensitive that you want to gauge your eyes out with a butter knife, that is the moment that you must bring yourself back to center. There is a part of you that will cling to the story: You don’t understand what he did! He’s such an asshole! He left me waiting for two hours! He could’ve done this one thing, but he refused! Blah, blah, blah. I know. People suck sometimes, and life can feel hard. But here’s the truth, the real come-to-Jesus truth that you don’t want to hear: If you’re not willing to suck it up, to recognize the part you’ve played-whether that means you gave him the silent treatment, you sulked, or you overreacted-you’re going to push your partner right out the door.
It’s all to easy to become so used to having someone around that, in the middle of a blow-up-fight, you fail to consider how much shittier your life would be if your partner wasn’t a part of it.
The key to this question is it instantly shifts your focus; when you’re in a frustrated emotional state, when you’re angry and acting out of fear, you’re so zoomed in on what’s upsetting you that your perspective is limited. Your’e focused on what’s wrong with your partner, instead of what’s right. In the middle of conflict, you miss the forest for the trees. In a mindful and emotional healthy relationship, both partners are equipped with tools that bring them back to center at the very moment when it feels most difficult.
Write this question down. Meditate on it. The next time he annoys you, does something thoughtless, or is unable to understand your point of view, consider the alternative: What would your life be without him?
The sooner you’re able to shift to gratitude for having your partner in your life, the better the chance you’ll have of saving your relationship. People who have great relationships have just as many fights and arguments, but they get to the heart of the matter and are able to work through them quicker.
You don’t want the fact that you’re partner is messy, forgetful, or unwilling to take you to that craft fair get in the way of the bigger truth: Do you want him in your life? When you are willing to ask yourself this question and be honest about the answer, you’ll see that you need to stop nagging, let go of resentments, and express the profound gratitude that you have for your partner. Appreciate that he’s a part of your life, and know that having someone who loves you is a gift. When you’re willing to recognize the magnitude of this gift, you’ll do anything not to lose it, and that means you’ll stop the fight, embrace your partner, and offer to make him a plate of pancakes. You’ll let go of the idea that he’s the enemy and see truth: Your relationship is a holy gift, one that you need to appreciate in order to keep.