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August 08, 2013

What Takes Me Off Track in My Relationships: A Relationship Expert’s Journey

IStock_thinkingallI started out to write a post about what to do to keep your relationship going and realized there are probably a thousand posts like that. Instead, I’ve decided to write about what takes us off track in our relationships…and to write this post from my own personal experience. It would be so nice to be able to say that being a relationship expert has finally taught me to be in my relationships perfectly, but unfortunately that is not the case. My humanity has stepped in the way of my knowledge countless times and taken me off course. Hopefully, some of my missteps will help lead to your successes. 

Below are the first five of ten ways I’ve gone off track in my relationships. I hope that my sharing these, will enable you to avoid the traps that have tripped me up now and again:

  1. Worked too much, paid attention too little. Throughout the years there have been too many moments when my e-mail, cell phone, projects or workshops came before playing, listening or just being with my family. The angst of not getting work done was too much for me to put aside for an hour, a day or certainly not a week. The lesson I have learned is to always be mindful to work less and pay attention more. Children and spouses want our time above all else.
  2. Allowed my insecurity to shake my trust. In times of my own self-doubt, upset or moments of insecurity, I doubted the love of my loved ones.  I looked to them to build me up and help me feel better rather than looking to myself to manage my insecurities. Other people cannot fill us up. They can add to our lives, but they cannot complete our lives or be responsible for making our lives bearable. Only we can do that.
  3. Forgot to be mindful. The everyday ticking of life makes it very easy to slowly drift apart—from my husband and kids, friends and from extended family. It takes mindfulness to stay connected. Sometimes the only thing that brought me back was feeling the distance I had grown apart. I must remember to keep my finger on the pulse of my relationships. If I’m feeling distant, chances are I’ve stopped being mindful…and as a result, there is, in fact, distance.
  4. Ignored the importance of date night. When the kids were young it was too easy to say I was tired or we couldn’t leave the kids with someone else. Young parents have to learn to leave the kids with a trusted babysitter—couples need the time together. Now I have to remember that even though life is busy, spending time with my husband is more important.
  5. Let stress and worry justify my distraction. A new project, a crazy schedule, worry etc., can all become excellent excuses to tune out. Not listening to those I love because I’m too distracted by other things can wear down even the best of relationships. I’ve had to learn to tune in—even when every fiber of my being is pulling me to tune out.

While I don’t believe relationships should be hard work, I do believe that they require a certain level of mindfulness. We have to pay attention, not only to the relationship itself, but how we are in them as well. When we keep our finger on the pulse of our relationships and friendships, we provide ourselves with the ability to make quick adjustments before unhealthy patterns become too entrenched.  Obviously the quicker we realize we’re going off course the better it is for every one…so tune in.

Challenge: Take a moment to think about where you go awry in your relationships or use my experiences above if they ring true for you. Make a mental note of how to regroup and get back on course. Let us know your list—so we can learn from you too!

 

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Thank you again for your courage to be vulnerable, and for sharing your wisdom. I have taken all the same mis-steps even while intellectually knowing the potential damage to my relationships. Staying mindful and reflecting daily on myself is key. Your reminders help reinforce my resolve to tune in to myself and the significant people in my life when I let the busyness of life seem more important than them.

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