Click on the link for this helpful slant on what works in primary relationship – and what can get in the way. We’ve seen this pop up in a few places on Facebook and elsewhere in the past week or so, and it seems worth sharing. In fact, plenty of it goes for any kind of relationship.
We do a lot of work with couples at this service. It feels accurate that couples often describe ‘communication’ as the main issue to begin with – and then through the work move into exploring other underlying issues. What we bring to relationship, and how we communicate and experience each other in relationship is, of course, all about how we see ourselves, how we see the world and how we see others – which is in turn about our past experience. Looking at the areas outlined in Kelly Flanagan’s post can be an enriching journey for both people (and within their relationship).
We especially liked his comments about ‘ego’, and how we benefit ourselves and each other:-
‘By practicing openness instead of defensiveness, forgiveness instead of vengeance, apology instead of blame, vulnerability instead of strength, and grace instead of power.’
We would not make an opposition between vulnerability and strength (any more than Kelly does) – although we conceal our vulnerability from fear and a perceived need to protect ourselves. Brene Brown defines strength in terms of the ability to be with vulnerability in ourselves and allow it in relationship, and we would agree that well-being in people and in relationship requires this.
We also liked Kelly’s comments on the inherent messiness of life, and proposed response:-
‘We must stop pointing fingers and start intertwining them. And then we can we walk into, and through, the mess of life together. Blameless and shameless.’
And perhaps the number 1 thing (in terms of something two people can helpfully learn to do differently):-
‘By its very nature, empathy cannot happen simultaneously between two people. One partner must always go first, and there’s no guarantee of reciprocation. It takes risk. It’s a sacrifice. So most of us wait for our partner to go first. A lifelong empathy standoff.’
How true. Learning to swallow our fear and our pride, and take the plunge offers a vast pay-off……
Here are a couple of links to Brene too, if you want to see more on vulnerability, strength and shame – all key to how we are in relationship:-
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter