You were in love once

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Romance has its challenges. Are you facing some now? You owe it to yourself to understand what is happening for him/her, the underlying reason for that hurtful or frustrating behavior.

Whenever I talk with a couple in distress, I always keep in mind that they were in love once. They were attracted to something special about one another. Most often, it was “chemistry” that cannot be created by any intervention technique. 

You could argue that centuries of successful arranged marriages prove otherwise. But today, that’s certainly not the norm. People tend to look for their “soulmate” and wouldn’t even consider letting someone else make that decision for them.

So what happens to the chemistry of and attraction ​to one’s soulmate over time?

​In fact, the chemistry and attraction are still present. They’ve just been overshadowed by the challenges you didn’t anticipate and/or prepare for. You picked a person you could glide through life with. That is, there was no friction. Not any that you noticed anyway.

But sooner or later, that friction becomes intolerable​.

​​You go into self-protection mode, which is a perfectly natural response to pain. In fact, avoidance and anger are the first signs that you’re on the path to deeper connection. 

Your behavior changes. You avoid more or get angrier. Because, when something doesn’t work, you just do more of it with greater intensity. The longer it goes on, the more impossible your situation seems. No matter how hard you try, you just cannot see a way past it.​​

Your impulse to self-protect doesn’t have to become a roadblock. Instead, your automatic tendency to defend your position is there as a signpost pointing to your next milestone in your relationship. ​

Awareness matters.

Yes, you know it’s there. But you want it to go away. Me, too! ​Who doesn’t want to eradicate pain? But pain is there for a reason. If you ignore it, everything else will start to break down. Your health. Your career. Your family. You must take a different approach if you want to come out ahead.

Simply put, it’s your job to figure out what your pain is telling you.

Be careful what you think and say at this point. Remember, you were in love with this person once. You owe it to yourself to understand what is happening for him/her, the underlying reason for that hurtful or frustrating behavior. If you mentally or verbally attack his/her character, you may justify your position. But you won’t learn anything new. ​​​

Once you understand what is happening, then you can plan your strategy.

Sometimes that means you become more tenderhearted and compassionate, finding more effective ways to support your mate.

  • Is he stressed at work? Is he worried about his ability to protect and provide for those he loves?
  • Is she under too much pressure to get everything done? Is she worried about how she compares to all her friends?
  • Do you both worry about measuring up to expectations, whether yours or someone else’s?

Sometimes understanding what’s happening means you learn to set boundaries and to engage differently.

  • Does your mate use drugs, alcohol, or porn to manage his/her pain?
  • Is your mate unfaithful? Abusive? Depressed?
  • Emotionally or physically unavailable?

You cannot fix something if you don’t know what’s broken.

Your strategy needs to fit the situation. In other words, you need to define the bottom-line problem accurately before you formulate a plan. Otherwise, you’re simply reacting to the moment and making matters more painful for you both.

But once you have defined the underlying problem, you can move from self-protection to progress. You will see the signpost instead of a roadblock and move toward your next marriage milestone.

Not sure what to do next? Let’s brainstorm together.

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