Insights from Dr. Diane Kramer, a Relationship Therapist for 35 years, and Co-Founder of Extraordinary Self Online e-Courses
Ending a long relationship is not an easy process. It can be financially, emotionally and physically gut wrenching, even if you are the one wanting out.
Do you have to go? It depends. Sometimes yes and sometimes no, depending on how severe the problems, how long they have existed and how much repair work you are willing to do. Sometimes you alone can repair by changing destructive patterns and/or showing remorse. Sometimes it’s a matter of forgiveness. And sometimes both people need to take on the herculean task of change.
Why herculean? Because by the time it is time to end, more and more frustration, bitterness and resentment have built up on both sides. It is very common for each side to blame the other and to not recognize their own part in the debacle. Each has polarized to an opposing side and set up a defensive barrier to avoid further hurts. Attack and distance become the common ground where the issues get played out. Sometimes this Vicious Cycle goes on for years, damaging each party, sometimes irreparably.
From the outside, an observer might say: What a great couple. Why can’t they just talk it out and forgive and forget? Not so easy, as those resentments, bitterness and hurts go deep. And often they collide and fuse internally with earlier hurts and pain from childhood. Without a person realizing, the pain meshes with earlier stored pains, slights, aggressions, rejections and criticisms from family members.
Not so easy to just let go and love again, assuming the loving was there in the first place way back at the beginning.
How to Change a Troubled Relationship
If you do want to attempt to rewind back to the beginning and rebuild on the ashes of the old relationship, we have the Steps in detail for you in the Extraordinary Self® e-Course, Extraordinary Relationships and Win/Win Communication.
Here are the Steps in brief:
- Decide to take the risk and commit to working on the relationship. Don’t expect miracles as change occurs step by step.
- Put your mind to work and start to recognize each person’s part in the Vicious Cycle that has caused so much pain and bitterness.
- Realize that you must work at changing your part, no matter how small it is. Stop blaming yourself for your part and instead learn from the past. Learning is useful, blaming is not.
- Talk to your partner about his or her part but don’t pressure, demand, criticize or attack. That just puts you back in the Vicious Cycle.
- Learn to detach from the Vicious Cycle, change your beliefs to more positive belief, get your negative emotions under control and find new ways to interact – even when your partner is stuck in the old destructive ways.
- Demonstrate enough examples of the new ways and your partner will probably get it. He or she might even find their own new ways of interacting.
- Learn to forgive yourself and/or the other. It is hard to do but learning to move on is worth it. Forgiveness needs to be accompanied by change. Otherwise you will slide back into the same old Vicious Cycle.
- Give the process lots of time. Keep monitoring and learning from the relationship feedback.
From Knowing to Doing
Listing the steps is easy. Making the changes takes significant effort. Our Extraordinary Relationships and Win/Win Communication course leads you through the change process step-by-step, with exercises and tools such as relaxation audios, belief change methods, journaling and much more. The course provides tremendous support, along with access to weekly Live Office Hours, when we answer questions and provide relevant insights.
Note: One person often changes before the other. If you are looking over your shoulder and waiting to change yourself until the other changes, you might wait forever. Keep at your own changes – even if the other does not. It will be worth it for you, whether or not the relationship has to end.
Having helped hundreds of couples go through the repair process, I know repair can work, but of course, not in all cases.
The Extraordinary Self Program’s e-Course, Extraordinary Relationships and Win/Win Communication is designed to offer that repair process. We also offer coaching hours and other related e-Courses. Please see www.extraordinaryself.com to learn more.