This is Option 2 from 5 in response to “Challenge of the Week: 5 Options for approaching relationship where you’re the only one ready to go to the next level”
Areas to work on
You might have come to some groundbreaking conclusions while doing the “One exercise that can totally change your love life” and one of them – quite possibly – is that you have some areas to work on: both individually and with your partner.
And you are willing to work! Although you acknowledged that your relationship has some challenges, you want to truly give it a try and fix the issues before deciding if you should get married or not.
How to approach it?
As we have explained: “You have all the things you have to offer, the way you want to feel with your partner, the things you want to have in a relationship, your dealbreakers and how all of these are matching with your lover. What to do next? If you think that now you simply have to forward the list to your partner and announce: “This is what doesn’t match between my needs and our relationship and if you don’t change it, I’m leaving”, then you are in for a big disappointment. This should be a dynamic tool that you can both use, mostly in order to work on yourself.”
Prepare for discussion
Once you have all the areas to work on identified (Column 6 from the exercise) you should prepare yourself to present them to your partner in a calm, clear and confident manner. Be aware that many times when we discuss areas for improvement within a relationship, it is quite easy to accidentally fall into an argument. Your partner may feel cornered or attacked when faced with your suggestions and automatically get defensive.
In order to avoid that, follow these simple rules:
1. Be calm and friendly
You might have discovered some serious issues in your relationship that you were not aware of before; it can naturally cause some frustration or disappointment from your side. This, however, will not help you to solve it.
Try to calmly explain your point of view and avoid indulging in “the blame game”. Imagine that you are not his girlfriend but his best friend; you are here to build and create and not to blame and accuse.
2. Be clear on what you mean
Some of us have a problem with telling our “other half” what we truly want, as we are unable to communicate openly and directly. We are either afraid of a rejection and looking needy or we are simply unable to show our own vulnerability.
It is quite understandable and it’s something that we all need to learn but what we do instead is very harmful.
So we “hint” our partner about what we need and we expect him/her to figure out. Or we drop vague suggestions in hopes for the other person to “get it”. Sometimes we even send mixed messages by being inconsistent with our communication – for instance, we tell our partner we would like to get married, by when we don’t get the reaction that we wanted, we take our words back (“I was joking” or “I changed my mind”) in order to protect our ego.
If we truly want to work on our issues in the relationship, we need to be clear about them. It’s essential – especially in case of “dealbreakers”. For example, if having a family is very important for you, you need to say it clearly instead of vaguely mentioning that you would maybe like to be a parent one day.
3. Be confident about your discoveries
“Be confident” doesn’t mean “be demanding” or “offensive”. It simply means that you should stick to your conclusions and talk about them like you mean it. Don’t allow yourself to get into discussions like “Is this really a dealbreaker for you?” – your partner may want to challenge you, but you should stick to what you have agreed with yourself.
In order to succeed, you need to be very open and honest and you should also have a certain level of maturity and open-mindedness. If only one person is willing to address the issues, while the other doesn’t have enough emotional or mental resources to do so, you are in for a disappointment. You need to have the same goal and level of commitment to solve your challenges. You should also be prepared that it may take some time – remember, it’s a process and not just one “all-nighter” – it will require consistency and perseverance, but if you truly care for each other and want to improve your relationship not only it is worth it, but also life-changing.