We’re all striving for healthy relationships.
For some of us, the struggle is more “real” than for others…
After 30-plus years of marriage practicing my relationship, and hours spent talking to people all over the world about their relationships, I can say only one thing with confidence: we’re all just human.
I’ve bumbled through some major mistakes during my life with Kevin, and I know there are more coming down the pipe. But I keep learning as I go…
I had the opportunity to collaborate on some workshops and retreats with Canada’s Relationship Expert – also known as the “Swiss Army Knife Relationship Coach”. If anyone knows how to foster healthy relationships, it’s Beth Hanishewski.
Beth’s Simple Tips to Create the Healthy Relationships You Want and Deserve
Before we dive in, let’s acknowledge that when someone says, “I have good news and bad news” the vast majority of us will take the bad news first. Ending on a high note just feels better, right?
So, here’s the bad news first…
HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS ARE HARD WORK. TODAY. TOMORROW. THE DAY AFTER.
If you want a great relationship you’re going to have to do the work. Every day. You can’t opt out because you “don’t feel like it.” You can’t opt out because other people are being difficult. You can’t opt out because it’s the other person’s “turn to go first this time”.
It doesn’t work that way. You must bring your best game to the table, each and every day.
As coaches, we often hear this scenario: My relationship is such hard work, I just wish my partner would show up a bit different so it would be easier.
Guess what? Your partner is waiting, too.
AFTER YOU. NO, I INSIST, AFTER YOU.
It’s polite when you’re going through a doorway…unless that doorway is an entry to a healthy relationship. Someone has to go first. Make that someone you. Be willing to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work. And bring the best version of yourself to the table.
You’ll have to acknowledge old wounds – the scars that make you reluctant to give more of yourself without some guarantees. Remind yourself that you’re in a new scenario now. Those past injuries don’t have to throw a shadow on your present or follow you into your future…they are simply life lessons.
According to Beth, it’s a slippery slope, waiting for someone else to do the things you need or want or crave before you are willing to do the things your partner needs or wants or craves.
A lot of waiting happens in relationships and during all that waiting time, hope, and the connection gets lost. It’s what happens if you are only willing to do the work conditionally or insist that they do the work in the exact same timeframe and way as you.
So, now for the good news…
BETH’S RELATIONSHIP FORMULA: E + V + C = H
Energy. Value. Currency.
These are the three factors in the relationship equation. The sum adds up to a healthy relationship.
- Show up with light masculine or feminine energy.
- Honour the other person’s highest value – is it freedom or safety?
- Give them their relationship currency – appreciation and trust or connection and protection.
It’s not easy. It’ll be especially hard when the going gets tough. Are you willing to do all the heavy lifting, even when you’re partner isn’t?
Are you willing to do the work even you when you would really rather just lash out, judge their lousy behaviour, hurt them back or run away?
If you choose, instead, to reach for the relationship formula instead of reacting or giving in to your old patterns or habits, you can begin to create real change.
You’ll be forging a brand new pathway for your healthy relationship to walk down. Remember, a relationship change is not a one-hit-wonder. The relationship formula isn’t something you use once and then use never again.
If you want to change the trajectory of a struggling relationship, you’ll reach for it in the very moment you see yourself falling down that old, familiar rabbit hole where your last fight was held. It’s in this moment where “the work” works!
Try to avoid seeing life’s everyday challenges as obstacles to this work. Money, health, work, stress, sleep, family, you name it. All these conditions are fixtures in your life, so don’t think to yourself, “Once I finally [get over this obstacle] I’ll focus on my relationship.”
It doesn’t work like that. And chances are, when you achieve a balance in your relationship, the other strains of your life won’t seem so daunting or insurmountable.
Don’t get stuck in the how.
Most of us innately know what to do. We just get stuck in the how. We all do.
So ask for help.
Your healthy relationship journey is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re willing to invest the energy, honour your partner’s values and give them their relationship currency, you’ll enjoy that journey.
Thanks, Beth, for reminding us all how important it is to do the work!
Now everyone, get to work…
This article was originally written and published in 2016 by Beth Hanishewski, and has been updated in 2020 just for you!