“So we saw a miracle last week when you turned me into ‘bougie’ (referring to ‘boujee’ or ‘bourgeoisie’”) … but I’m not sure we can do that two weeks in a row.”
After chuckling, I asked him to define “bougie” for me. With jolliness in his voice and on his face, he responded: “I’m not sure… but I’m pretty sure it’s the opposite of Buc-eec’s.”
I knew he was referring to the work that we had done to change the culture of their marriage and home the week before, but I was amused at his descriptive words.
(Particularly because I have an associate who used to think that you pronounced “Buc-ee’s” like “bougie”).
Just a few weeks previously, he had come to assure me that his marriage was over. Dead! And even confessed that he was the one who had murdered it, or at least wrecked it.
I began the series last week about the five things that you can do to resurrect your relationship. These were the five things that I listed.
- CHANGE THE ATMOSPHERE AND CULTURE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP (AND YOUR HOME)
- JOIN HANDS AND BECOME PARTNERS … HEALING PARTNERS
- DREAM TOGETHER ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP YOU WANT, LISTEN WITH YOUR MICKEY MOUSE YEARS ON, AND TAKE THE BARRICADE OFF YOUR HEART.
- TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHO YOU ARE IN THE RELATIONSHIP AND TAKE MASSIVE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO CORRECT AND/OR IMPROVE IT
- DEVOTE 30 TO 40 MINUTES EACH EVENING FOR HEALTHY COMMUNICATION, AND GRATITUDE FOR PROGRESS
Last week, I wrote about changing the culture of your home and relationship. Click here if you missed it.
This week I will begin with the second way to resurrect, heal and restore any wrecked relationship.
II. JOIN HANDS AND BECOME PARTNERS … HEALING PARTNERS
Here are the key things that healings partners do. And I can assure you that doing them well, doing them consistently, and doing them with your heart will resurrect any relationship.
What are healing partners? I define healing partners as:
Any two people each committed to their personal growth, to the growth of the other and to the growth of the relationship.
They understand that the best place for our deep inner wounds and issues to come up, and be healed, are in relationship.
Rather than following the popular courses of action:
- Hurting one another further…
They take each opportunity to investigate what has come up and become a part of the other’s healing.
They are aware that this creates an intimacy that nothing else can!
You would likely say, “Well, how on earth can you make that happen?”
I want all of you to have this wonderful experience, and therefore, I have provided this guide so it can be a part of your journey. Whether your relationship needs resurrection, ICU treatment, or you just want to move from ordinary to EXTRAORDINARY!
Here are five steps you can use to become healing partners:
1. LEARN TO NOTICE EVERY CHALLENGE AND FRUSTRATION, THEN SPEAK FROM YOUR DESIRE … INSTEAD OF REHEARSING THE CHALLENGE.
From early on in school, we are taught to recognize mistakes, and to deal with those. When we got our homework back in grade school, there were no green checks showing us what we did right, only red X’s to show us what we got wrong.
Other cultural practices enforce the same thing.
But a real key to becoming healing partners is to know that at any moment that you feel discomfort, frustration, irritation, hurt or annoyances… Someone has tapped into something within them.
The natural inclination in all of us is to react. To say something sharp in return. Or to point out what the other did wrong.
However, the key to the intimacy is to press pause at that moment.
The other person may have said something unfair, or something hurtful… So this is not about ignoring what happened or how you felt.
But it is about taking a higher road…
The road that would:
- Look inside first and
- Acknowledge what happened
- Assess how and what you feel
- But then … ask yourself this critical question: “What is it that I desire at this moment?”
It is not natural, but it is a powerful 2 mm change that can change the course of your life, as well as your relationships.
The couple I spoke of about bougie versus Bucc-ee’s provided a great example of how this works.
I was teaching them this concept and asked him if he had experienced something over the past week that created some frustration, irritation or hurt.
By now, you probably realize that he is a funny guy. So he responded with: “Do you want number 100 or number 298 from the week?”
I told him to pull one out of the hat, and he chose a moment they had experienced in the car.
They had been out running errands together for most of the afternoon, and he pulled into a sports bar to catch a little bit of a ball game.
Because it had not been part of the afternoon plan, she responded with: “What on earth? Can you just take me home first?“
Apparently after a few swear words and stomping on the brakes, he screeched out of the parking lot and took her home.
I asked him if we could go back and revisit that moment, and he had been able to take a deep breath (before he began the groaning, swearing, and less than ideal driving) and determine what it was that he desired at that moment?
After a moment of thought, he said, “I just wanted her to go in there with me. Usually it’s couples, and I think she’s pretty hot and I’d like to show her off.”
I asked him what he thought might have happened if when she asked if he could take her home, he had paused and assessed what his desire was, what he might have said.
“I guess I could’ve said: ‘I know this wasn’t in our plan, but I’d like to see the end of this game. You know I come here often to watch sports, and usually it’s couples inside. There’s only about 20 minutes left in the game, I’d like to show off my hot wife. Would you come in with me for just half an hour?”
I asked him how he thought she might have responded to that. He said he wasn’t sure, so I invited him to ask her.
She responded: “First of all you would’ve had to have resuscitated me for saying such an awesome thing to me. And no matter how busy I was on that day, I would’ve been delighted to spend that 30 minutes with you.”
When we lay down the inclination to react, learn to press pause (when something strikes a nerve in us), and think of our desire in that moment …It gives an opportunity to speak from our desire.
When we speak from our desire (instead of criticizing and judging what just happened) … miracles can happen!
My challenge to you is to try this for three days. At work, interacting with neighbors, dealing with your children, spending time with you spouse. You will see your day go very differently.
Not only does the interaction go differently, but you might just get what you really want!
2. KNOW AND MEET YOUR PARTNER’S NEEDS
There are four survival needs that every single human being has. The only difference between us are two things:
- What order of priority they fall in for us
- What specific things meet those needs for us
Now before you send me any hate mail and tell me how that your partner‘s needs are not your responsibility … hear me out.
You are correct. However, knowing and meeting our partner’s needs (not as the single source and sole source, but as a big contributing partner) can literally raise things from the dead.
Don’t guess. Have the conversation together. Whether it’s a friend, a spouse, or a young adult child.
Here are the four survival needs:
- Significance, importance, uniqueness
- Support, connection, love
- Surprise, variety, adventure
- Security, safety, stability
Put yours in their order of importance and priority for yourself, then ask the other person to do the same.
- Then request from each other 10 healthy ways that they can get each of their top three needs met.
- Make notes.
- Then begin meeting those needs.
- Making intentional efforts on a daily basis.
With the couple have been speaking of, his needs fell in this order of priority:
I asked him to share with her one way she could meet his need for significance, and his need for security, just for starters.
For significance: Tell me she’s proud of me
For security: Let me know when she is spending over $100 on our debit card
Her list fell in this priority order:
I asked her one thing he could do to meet her top two needs:
For love for support: To kiss her good night and say a prayer with her at bedtime
For significance: To send her something to be delivered at work (like a cookie bouquet)
Then I sent them to different rooms to spend 15 or 20 minutes giving one another 10 things that could be done to meet each of their top three needs.
One of his comments when we came back together is something I hear often when I do this exercise with couples: “All these years I’ve been trying to love her the best I could, and I have hardly done anything on her list. I just didn’t know!”
This exercise was important and crucial for them, and for you … because despite our best efforts, we really don’t know, unless we ask, how to meet the needs of others.
I challenge you to do this exercise this week. You will have to dig deep to understand what you need to have your needs met. But to do so is like you giving your partner (or friend) the holy grail when you share this information with them.
It truly has the power to turn relationships around!
Find out their needs and begin meeting them intentionally and consistently, and your love and connection will be richer than every before!
3. RECREATE YOUR RELATIONSHIP AND LOVE WITH RECREATION!
Recreation is far more important than we understand. Recreation is the key to re-creation of any relationship.
Activities that meet these criteria have the greatest healing power:
- Something both enjoy
- Something that promotes eye contact
- Something that requires energy
Many people are disappointed to find out that watching television or a movie does not fulfill this list.
When I asked my couple I was working with on these steps what each of them might consider fun, they had the same dilemma.
The comedian husband commented: “So I guess you wouldn’t you call my online game playing fun for us?“ My response to him was: “BINGO!“
I asked him to dig deep, and even consider things they had not done when they first met.
She came up with two great ideas:
- Take a dance lesson together
- Go on a leisurely walk by the lake and watch the sun set
With a sparkle in his eye he commented “touché“: as he named his two:
- Go play top golf together
- Go bowling together
What recreation can you initiate or plan today?
I know it’s normal that we all get stuck in our normal routines.
We are all busy.
But squeezing time in for what raises your relationships from the dead and nurtures to them to beauty is worth it, isn’t it?
4. LEARN TO REFLECT, VALIDATE AND EMPATHIZE.
Last week I talked about Drs. Harville and Helen Hunt Hendrix’s Revolution called “safe conversations.”
Through years of research, studying neuropsychology, working with hundreds and thousands of couples, they learned some crucial things about fulfilling communication:
- Communication that is one partner sharing to conclusion
- Then the other partner sharing to conclusion
- Using reflection, validation and empathy
Is transformational to relationships of all kinds.
First of all, they learned that a person being heard to completion was healing in and of itself.
Secondly, being validated and empathized with creates a super glue beyond any other compound to the healing and intimacy of any relationship.
Here’s an abbreviated version of how the process goes.
- One person shares something with their partner.
- Every paragraph or two, the other person, the listener, reflects with a simple sentence or two. Using the sentence stem: “If I heard you correctly, you are saying …” Followed by: “Is there more?”
- (It is important to use the sentence stems, because the sentence stems reprogram your brain to looking forward to conversation and create deep grooves for intimacy).
- Then there is no more, the listener validates, using the sentence stem: “It makes sense to me that …”
- Then the listener says: “After listening, you must feel …” (Guess at the feeling, even if you are incorrect, they will give you feedback, but most importantly will feel you have walked a mile in their shoes).
Then after a break, the places are switched, and the one who was listening has the opportunity to share their heart.
The couple I was working with had the typical response as we walked through this exercise. Both were tearful as they both shared and listened.
After they both had an opportunity, I asked them what they thought their tears were about. I heard the same answer as I normally here when I teach couple this exercise.
They often say things such as:
- “Because I really felt heard“
- “Because I felt like I could finish sharing what was on my heart”
- “Because I felt safe“
Private message me if you would like the handout to use for an outline and guide in this kind of conversation.
Try it this week both ways (as a sharing partner, and as a listener) with someone important in your life. You can do it around small things, or around big issues. Using this as a means of communication changes the dynamic of the relationship and provides the safety needed for healing and restoration.
5. MAKE THEIR DAY EVERY DAY.
This little exercise serves multiple purposes:
- It builds or rebuild trust
- It requires intentionality, which is crucial in every rich every relationship
- It speaks of your commitment to the other
Get in the habit daily of asking your partner:
“What one thing could I do today that would make your day better?“
Whatever they say, do it if it is at all within your power or means.
At the beginning of this exercise, as the couple in my office did, when she asked him what one thing she could do that day to make his day was… He responded: “Go get a chest full of hundred dollar bills.“
Of course, that was not within her means … But as I had them do, just enjoy the laugh … and ask again.
When relationships get rough, we turn our energy and effort to self-preservation, and often withdrawal from that sense of community and sharing chores, tasks and responsibilities with the other.
This little exercise reignites the connection that comes from that level of sharing the load.
For the one asking, it gives great opportunity to show that there are needs, and to trust the other with them.
To the one meeting the “one thing”, it shows commitment.
It also gets us out of ruminating about what’s wrong with the other (their shortcomings), and instead, being prepared with the “one thing” that would make our day!
When my couple got finished teasing about around-the-world cruises and chests full of $100 bills … we bot down to the real things.
For that day, the “one thing” that would make her day: if he would hold her and hug her for at least 30 seconds with no sexual energy, then tell her he loved her.
The “one thing” she could do for him was to bring him iced tea while he was doing the lawn.
Small things, but things that began to bring them closer!
The goodwill and the positive connections created by this exercise are like healing balm to any relationship.
Decide today that your relationship is worth taking hands and becoming partners again. Healing partners!