The way our life will look in the future is a sum of our present decisions and choices. The way we behave every day, the way we feel, the thoughts we usually have are "bricks" in the building of our own future.
If we want to imagine how this future will look like, we just need to think about what consequences our daily habits and actions will have on us.
In the same way, if we want to imagine what our couple relationship will look like in the future and how we will be in this relationship, we just have to think what are the consequences of the way we relate every day to our partner, to ourselves and to the relationship.
If we currently make compromises and sacrifices, if we accept to be treated with disrespect and lack of consideration or if we ignore our needs and desires for things "to be ok", our couple relationship has all the chances to become a "war zone" in the future, a space of loneliness and resentment for both partners, a space where we feel frustrated and have regrets.
If we don’t currently make every effort to show our partner that we love and appreciate him/her, if we don’t try to resolve our disagreements and conflicts in a constructive manner, if we don’t try our best and we think that we are entitled to everything that our partner has to offer us, we will end up distancing ourselves from each other, feeling like two strangers who live under the same roof, feeling unappreciated, breaking up in a resentful and angry manner or seeking solace elsewhere.
If we are currently doing nothing to improve ourselves, to grow and develop, to improve our couple relationship, how can we expect things to be better in the future?
Today I am suggesting an exercise which may help you, on one hand, to become aware of "who you are" now in your relationship (if you express your authenticity, if you repress your needs and desires, if you have embraced a certain role and how that role makes you feel) and, on the other hand, what kind of person you could become in the future and how your relationship would look like if everything remained exactly the same.
I invite you to honestly answer the following questions:
- What are five of your qualities? Do you express them in your relationship? If so, in what way? If not, what prevents you from expressing them?
- What aspects would you like to improve about yourself regarding the way you feel and behave in your relationship?
- What kind of partner are you? What kind of partner would you like to be?
- Do you feel comfortable with "the role" you are having in your relationship? If not, what would you like to change? What keeps you from making the changes you want?
- What does your partner most often reproach you? What do you reproach him/her? Are these issues you want to work on? Are there issues you would like your partner to work on? Have you discussed and negotiated these issues?
- Do you feel pressured by your partner to do things even if you don't want to? How do you respond in this situation? How do you think you will feel in five or ten years if you continue to do things against your will?
- If your partner says what traits he/she appreciates about you vs. what traits he/she doesn’t like, what would those be? Is there a discrepancy between what he/she would say and how you perceive yourself? Ideally, what would you like to say?
This "ideal" represents who you want to be in your relationship - what keeps you from behaving in this way now? Do you compromise certain values? Do you feel that you can't express your authenticity?
I invite you to think about all these things and try to figure out if you want to continue in the same way or if you want to make certain changes, and then start looking for solutions to implement those changes.
If you don't feel good in your relationship or if you don't like "who you are" with your partner, it doesn't mean that things will stay this way forever. It’s up to you to start making the changes you want.
If your partner is also open and willing to communicate, to work every day with you on your relationship, there is every chance that this relationship will evolve beautifully. If not, maybe it's time to reconsider the whole situation.
I trust you can do it, do you?
Dr. Ursula Sandner