Win in relationships?
Let’s remember that we seek a triple win:
Win for you
Win for other
Win for a higher good.
I’ll give you the answers first.
Then, if you want to read the stories of how I learned this advice (the hard way!), that will follow.
Either way that you decide to consume the content, have fun!
Five Ways to Win in Relationships
1. Know (and prioritize!) thy self.
3. Be a person of value.
4. Follow the Four Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz).
5. Be Open (also known as: Having a beginner’s mindset).
Now, The Very Personal Story Behind this Advice
First of all, I’m no expert. I’ll quote the song, Everybody’s Free, by Baz Luhrmann
My advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience, I will dispense this advice… now.
Are you one of those people, like me, that celebrated Valentine’s Day without a “Valentine”?
What does that even mean? Our culture is perhaps overly fixated on that “romantic” love, the one we think of when we see stuff like, “You complete me,” on a Hallmark card.
I’m gonna barf or call Bull Shit on that concept, that anyone completes anyone.
We are complete in and of ourselves, punto final.
We utilize relationships to facilitate growth and connection. More on that another time.
But how (for those of us like me that love to be good students), do we “do relationships” well?
In this article, I’d like to share with you five ways that we “blow up” relationships that don’t work for us anymore. Yes, we can “break up” over emails or text, but the real breaking up happens over time.
As I look back at my timeline, I did some things that resulted in me “losing” my Husband.
But I’ve gained a lot as well. We gain experience, and as Albert Einstein says:*
“Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.”
He also said:
“Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience. You need experience to gain wisdom.”
*I’ll be refering more to Einstein and his interesting thoughts on love later in this article.
Remember that funny film with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey? How cringe-worthy was Ms. Hudson’s character with her whining, cutsie name-calling, and bizarre tactics?
In the movie, they played a game, BullShit. Well, I call “bullshit” on that movie, because I don’t think those characters would have “put up with each other” for as long as they would in real life.
However, the real “relationship destroyers” are way more real and prevalent than silly plants and cutesy name-calling tactics. I’ll call them blow-up triggers, and I’ve had some in-depth experience with them in my life recently.
I hope to learn from my mistakes (thanks Shakira; stay tuned to a link to one of her songs on this concept of learning, “failing,” and trying again).
Blow up trigger #1 – Lose yourself.
Antidote and Winning Tip #1: Know (and prioritize!) thy self.
I believe that I had a love addiction to my Husband. I loved spending time with him so much, I’m sure it got annoying. To everyone. In my first book Mountain Mantras, I wrote about how I would sit on his lap in restaurants. Was that really me? I look at myself today, on the verge of being a spinster, and I wonder how I got here. I think I lost myself…in him.
YOU are the one common denominator in all of your relationships. You are more than just one “role”, you are a son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, cousin, friend…the list goes on. You may put more emphasis on one relationship over another, but I suggest you not put ALL your eggs in one basket. Something may happen to that basket (they may not want your eggs anymore!?), and where will you go?
We all want connection in this world. That connection starts with YOU, and your understanding of who you are. Don’t lose yourself in any relationship.
Know (and Prioritize!) Thy Self.
If you have lost yourself, find yourself; really get to know (and like and trust!) yourself, and see where that takes you in your subsequent relationships. And have fun (DUH).
Put yourself first. So hard to follow, I know – but hear this. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be able to show up for anyone. You may be able to be physically present for someone, but if you are extremely depleted, you won’t be present.
Your presence is the best present. Wrap up yourself and give yourself to those that appreciate you.
Blow up trigger #2: Develop incompetencies based on efficiency.
Antidote and winning tip #2: Cross-train.
When I married my Husband, I already had my MBA and made great money. I had my own company by age 29. One of my clients called me “Midas”… everything I touched turned to gold.
We decided to have kids, and I was able to work after our first child was born. On the second pregnancy, it was UN CHORRO (a shitshow) involving a misdiagnosis of encephalitis of our son, fear of miscarriage, and three long months of bed rest. Having been a “helper” to many others before, I assumed help would show up for me when I was in need (see below– WRONG!). I had a toddler to take care of, and I was on bedrest? With a hubby that traveled all the time? A horrible recipe for the disappointment that I won’t go into. It was the start of anxiety leading to (postpartum) depression, and my first big encounter with the mental health skeletons that lay in my family’s closets.
I had to quit my job and close up my company while on bed rest. I read The Feminine Mystique, along with many other books about the role women play in our society today. I weighed options, but ultimately my bedrest meant that I could not continue to lead my company. I did not have disability insurance.
I decided to gamble and try the “old-fashioned way” of being a stay home mom. I had no idea this “job” would be harder than any other “job” of my lifetime. I was up to my eyeballs with diapers and learning about early childhood development, and then all of a sudden, little kid problems became big-kid problems to be closely monitored and managed. Years passed, and I never felt the freedom to truly focus on myself and my passions. I loved my kids to the moon and back, but they would not need me soon enough. A recipe for trouble was brewing.
I lost contact with my key clients and relationships, making it harder and harder to come back professionally. I never truly recovered from my postpartum depression and it simply turned into anxiety that grew over the years.
My Husband is wicked-smart with money. Next to my hypervigilant and anxious brain, his ability to manage financial decisions seemed better than mine. So I gave up responsibility and handed things (mostly) over to him. Not a good idea for either of us.
Today, money has been a huge tension as we unwind our relationship. It could have been a major contributing factor to our separation.
Antidote and winning tip#2: Cross-train.
We’ve all heard, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” That applied to me and my money management skills. So the specific antidote to my situation would have been in hindsight: always be your own money master.
I could speak to my younger self now, I would tell her:
- Don’t set up finances with your Husband so that he has too much responsibility (pressure) and you have too little! Share the responsibility.
- Never stop working professionally. I never stopped “working,” but I didn’t draw a salary or payment from the 15 years I worked at the nonprofit I founded. No wonder my daughter introduced me to her friends as “my mom – just a volunteer.” (OUCH).
- Always have your own bank account with at least six months of money to cover your living expenses
- Always have your own credit card and credit record
- Make your own investment decisions in your own investment accounts for your retirement.
In other words, don’t ever let money be the thing you and Your Beloved fight about. And if you don’t TALK about it, perhaps it will be the thing that will build up pressure in your relationship, words unsaid, until the pressure blows up in both of your faces. So, talk about it, a lot.
In my latest podcast episode, I reference the fact that I think our money-focused society is soon to shift. Maybe. Today we are, however, very much still in a money-driven society.
If it’s not about money, it’s about something else you might want to keep skills in. And, as always, communicate (another duh).
Blow up trigger #3 – Have expectations of the other.
Antidote and Winning Tip #3: Be a person of value.
I need to be done with my anger over a contract that was breached: my marriage “vows”. This whole “have and to hold until death do us part” was more bullshit, frankly. And I’m learning to live with that, with a smile on my face.
Now that I’ve been separated for six months, I realize that relationships are not about expecting the other person to do something (or anything) for you.
The professional world has moved to the “gig economy.”
Are relationships between romantic partners now just “gigs”?
Are we all just free agents now with no commitments beyond the present moment?
I’m not advocating that model, by the way.
Whatever happened to society when we lived in tribes that took care of each other?
I would have loved some tribe support when I was on bed rest…*
I would have loved some companionship when my husband traveled half the month…*
I would have loved for someone to have given me a ride home from my recent surgery…*
*that I didn’t have to pay for.
The asterisk is the kicker content. Back when we had tribes, we did stuff for each other because we loved each other, and because we had the capacity as individuals.
Today, I think we either 1) don’t love each other enough or 2) don’t have the capacity.
Because it seems like we have moved into a societal model that feels very, transactional.
I quote Einstein again:
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”
What if we really are to act as “free agents” in a world without long-term contracts?
In a marriage, it seems harsh to do away with the “in sickness and in health” vow when so many women I know have taken care of the family for so many decades. Often to their own detriment. See my post/podcast on The Giving Tree.
When this same giving woman has her own health crisis, do the family members (and husbands) rally around her to give her the same support she has given them? In many cases I’m aware of (including my own experience), the answer is a firm no.
Why is this happening?
I don’t know. It appears that one of the partners becomes a “burden,” and the other cuts the ties. (Our culture even calls a wife a “ball and chain.” As I write this, it sounds to be one of the most offensive things I’ve ever heard about our modern culture; who wants a ball and chain?).
Antidote: Be a person of value.
If we are going to act as free agents in a world without long-term contracts, I suggest:
- Get your health in tip-top shape by following a lifestyle plan for regeneration and longevity. (My posts on wellness and nutrition have plenty for you to glean from).
- Meet your own needs, so you can be of value in meeting the needs of others. For example, I need to be seen, heard, understood, and valued. I will do this for myself through mirror exercises. More on that on my Tik Tok channel!
- Build up your knowledge, skills, abilities, experiences, and appetite to adapt. In the “gig” economy, we want to have as must to offer as possible in an ever-changing world.
- Work on yourself including personal growth and self-improvement. In a society where we act as free agents in relationships, enhance whatever it might be that you bring to a partnership. You might need to apply those attributes to a new relationship. If you are already in a relationship, avoid getting sloppy and allowing monotony to kill the relationship. Shakira sings about this phenomenon.
- Endeavor to be in the present moment and appreciate moments that have an opportunity to connect with others.
Einstein had some interesting quotes about marriage and love.
Blow up tip #4 – Throw out the four agreements.
Antidote and Winning tip #4: Follow the Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz. Un favorito. If you forgot them, here’s a reminder:
-Always do your best
-Be impeccable with your word
-Never make assumptions
-Don’t take things personally
I struggle, especially with the last one. I’ve been doing a lot of “why me??”s. I’ve seen an internist, a neurologist, and even a psychiatrist. I have learned that, yes, bad things do happen to “good” people.
What agreement do YOU struggle with the most?
We all fail. I enjoy returning to Shakira and her song, Try Everything:
I won’t give up, no, I won’t give in
‘Til I reach the end, and then I’ll start again
No, I won’t leave, I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail
I’ll keep on making those new mistakes
I’ll keep on making them every day
Blow up tip #5 – Be stubborn.
Antidote and Winning tip #5: Be Open (also known as Having a beginner’s mindset).
My Husband and I are both Tauruses, and we have spent our lives (to date) worshiping the power of the mind.
My NDE taught me that our minds don’t hold the key to making the most of this lifetime. To make the most of every day, of every moment, we must allow the heart to lead. The mind is a mere servant of the heart.
The nature of the heart is to be open to new experiences, people, and ideas.
We shut down the powerful heart energy when we walk into a room or a discussion with the idea:
“I know the answer.”
Really? How do we know anything for 100% sure?
When also block the power of the heart when we want to “win” a “fight.”
When we are open, we can learn more, connect more, and act in our higher selves. We can also do more “fun” stuff (from the heart) like singing and dancing – especially to Shakira!