Are you a good partner?
We are usually not taught how to be in relationship with other people, at least not explicitly. Our learning comes from our experiences—and until we are actually in a romantic partnership, we don’t know how to do it. We learn as we go.
Many of us have a tendency to focus on what our partner isn’t doing rather than what we could be doing better or differently to improve our relationship(s). When we focus on what isn’t happening, we aren’t bringing our best selves to the partnership. We seek out every opportunity to prove that our assumption is correct (that our partners suck right now) and find ourselves in a self-fulfilling prophecy situation. I want to be clear, sometimes it really DOES suck. But other times, we are stuck in a way of thinking that is harmful to our relationship. This cycle contributes to unhappiness and disconnection in our relationship and we begin to compare our relationship to other relationships (never a good idea!). Pretty quickly, we feel we have been given a raw deal and we wonder how the hell we ended up here with a relationship that feels like crap. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can gently redirect ourselves to a new way of thinking and feeling and even being in relationships. And from that shift, we will experience improvements. We are always learning.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what kind of partner you are? Is being a solid partner something you bring focus and energy to regularly?
It’s your responsibility to show up well in your partnership. Like most people who are in committed relationships, I imagine that is what you agreed to at some point in your partnership. That you would do your best in your relationship for a very long time. Over time, your commitments to your values or beliefs can erode and it is your responsibility to regularly return to those commitments, adjust them if necessary, and be clear with your partner about any changes you feel you must make in the relationship.
What constitutes a good partner? Some of that is determined by who you are with. Because we all appreciate different qualities in a partner, there is something to be said about being in a relationship where your partner appreciates who you are and what you bring to the relationship table. However, I will also note that in my work with couples, there are certain qualities that appear to be more or less universal and are appreciated by most people (again, not all!).
And because I LOVE asking good questions, here is a list you can reflect on. I encourage you to be brutally honest with yourself about your responses and take notes about where you can improve and what you can shift to show up better for your partner (and ultimately, yourself).
Are you willing to do the work in your relationship? When the relationship starts to feel disconnected (irritable, sad, cold, etc.), do you acknowledge the challenges? Do you make an effort to shift the dynamic? Do you ask your partner what they are experiencing?
What is the quality of your listening skills? Do you listen without judgment? Do you wait to respond until your partner is done speaking? Do you keep your mind clear until you have heard what they are saying and then formulate a response?
Do you take turns carrying the heaviness of life? Do you support your partner in taking a break from any day-to-day drudgery and stepping in for them for a bit?
Do you support your partner’s growth? Do you encourage them to do the things they love and also expand in ways that might feel a little uncomfortable? Do you give them the time and space to get there?
Are you responsive? Do you reply when your partner speaks to you? If you didn’t hear because you were distracted, do you ask them kindly to repeat what they said?
Are you thoughtful? Do you think ahead about what your partner may need and provide it for them if possible?
Do you notice when your partner is feeling a little off? How do you acknowledge that? Do you prioritize their mental health like you would your own?
Do you apologize sincerely, explicitly, and thoroughly when you have hurt your partner? (Stay tuned for a blog post about this soon)!
Do you notice when your partner is feeling great? Do you amplify those feelings? Do you cheer your partner on? Do you support them in their life’s work? Do you prioritize their goals like you would your own?
Do you have goals as a couple? Do you operate in your relationship according to your values?
Do you treat your relationship like a living breathing entity that needs consistent care, support, attention and love?
One of the ways I see folks improving how they show up in relationships is by engaging in the work—and demonstrating to their partner that they are ready to do so. I know how difficult it can be to start and how confusing it can feel as you are trying to navigate disconnection in a new way.
In my experience with couples, they so deeply want to change how they are relating to one another but they don’t know what that looks like. I want to facilitate this process by creating accessible resources that are practical and supportive and I’m excited to introduce my latest project to you: The Working Through Disconnection Support Bundle.
This bundle is designed to provide a framework for navigating arguments in a new way. Often we are so focused on the content of the argument that we miss what’s happening under the surface. This bundle (which includes a set of printable, reusable worksheets and a 4-minute meditation/audio recording) is meant to slow down the process, reduce chaos in the heat of an argument, and get you to a calm, resolved place more quickly and efficiently.
I want everyone who needs this bundle to be able to access it so the price point is low. You can download the bundle and start using it *today* for $18.
I’m really looking forward to hearing how this bundle supports you (and what else you need!). Will you let me know?
Thank you, as always, for your support, engagement, love, and hard work. I appreciate you more than I could ever say.