What People in Healthy Relationships Do: Having the Right Intention
Healthy is not perfect. There is no “perfect” relationship, and if you think you have one you either worked hard to make it that way, or you have worked hard to look the other way. What matters in a relationship is the intention that each person brings to the table. Do you want to keep getting better at things, or do you expect the other person to keep getting better? Do you see difficulties as opportunities to learn more about others and yourself? You can work toward a “perfect for you” relationship that helps you both feel good, but don’t expect that you will have textbook-perfect relationships. That would be a great example of having expectations that leave you really disappointed, all of the time.
If we start with intention, what should those intentions be if we want a healthy relationship?
You’d be surprised at how becoming more aware of your intention can take you off of auto-pilot and naturally bring positive change. In the coming weeks I will be devoting a post to each of these topics, so don’t worry if you don’t quite get it. Just think about what comes up for you when you read each of these. To start, pick one or two to really ponder. If you get stuck, make a comment or send me a message and I will incorporate an answer into the next post!
Intend to be responsible for your own actions and happiness
We feel things when others do things. But others don’t make us do things, and they can’t be responsible for our feelings. If we feel anger when someone does something, we may need to address that, but it doesn’t mean that anyone has the power to control our emotions. Because of this, no one in the world can make us happy all of the time. Your spouse can do the same thing on two different days and it may make you happy one day and miserable the next. Let your loved ones off the hook for making you happy or miserable. Likewise, you need to get off the hook for anyone else’s misery or happiness!
Intend to communicate what is on your mind lovingly, and create a safe space for others to do so as well
Less blaming, more owning up to your own role in things, and a gentler way of approaching issues could do wonders for you. Children especially need this from us. Depending on their age, they can’t separate how you feel from how they should feel (and should be feeling about themselves). In fact, many adults can’t either! Loving communication creates a safe and inviting space for you to actually get a response you can work with. An easy way to start is to just try to begin conversations in a gentler way.
Intend to treat others how they want to be treated, not how you want to be treated
The Golden Rule stills applies, but it overlooks the fact that others might not want the same thing you do! Your husband’s idea of a good talk might be a two minute exchange that ends with a definite plan. Your idea could be a 45-minute emotional heart to heart. Are there ways that you assume that what you want is the same as what others want? What might be different between those two ideals?
Intend to change other people’s behavior only by changing your own
You can actually change other people’s behavior – you just can’t control it. Have you asked for something a million times and not gotten it? Do you have the same arguments over and over? If you change one little thing, that will send ripples of change through your relationship. Do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t. Your approach might not have the effect you wanted, but you can try again. And it might not solve 100% of the problem, but changing your steps will change the dance.
Intend to be trustworthy
This is pretty self-explanatory, or is it? Don’t lie, cheat, steal, blah, blah, blah. Did you know that people trust you more when what you do, say, and feel all match? They trust you when you are reliable and consistent. You might not lie to your loved ones, but if you blow up over small things and then don’t react to big things, it will make them uneasy and mistrustful. Or, if you are fuming and say you aren’t angry, there is a disconnect that makes it hard for anyone to work with you instead of against you.