Pain in our bodies is usually there to tell us something.
It’s a messenger.
*If your ankle hurts after a fall, you’ve likely sprained it.
*Chronic heartburn could be an indication of a hernia.
*A migraine after a long day might be the result of tension.
You could pop an Advil for the ankle or the headache.
You could take some Mylanta for the sour stomach.
And you’d probably get some immediate relief.
But you’d only be addressing the symptoms.
Unless you treat the root cause (get off the ankle, fix the hernia, or lower your stress levels),
You’ll more than likely just keep on experiencing the same pain.
Not only that, but the pain can escalate in intensity.
Emotional pain in our hearts – and the way we often respond to it – works the same way.
For years, I treated the symptoms of my emotional turmoil, but never really took the time to treat the underlying symptoms.
Especially when it came to my romantic life.
Following my second divorce, I decided to take a break from romance COMPLETELY and get myself healthy once and for all.
Back then the goal I set for myself was to simply to not date at all until I could get completely out of debt.
Back then I set that goal in the belief that if I was debt free then when I was looking for a life partner I would be looking for someone I wanted, rather than someone I thought could help me with my finances…
I was way off base in what I thought back then would keep me from attracting another “BUM”…
The fact that I refused to date at all and just gave myself some time to heal was SPOT ON!
During that time of isolation I learned a few valuable things about relationships,
Both from the mistakes I had made in both of my marriages,
And also by watching closely couples that I encountered on a regular basis.
Here is what I learned:
Criticism in any form is deadly to any relationship!
How Does Criticism Destroy Relationships?
Criticism leads to distance, because partners will close themselves off in order to avoid more criticism.
And when there’s distance, lack of connection follows.
A lack of connection will always lead to a loss of intimacy – both emotional and physical.
And once the intimacy is lost, the marriage begins to rot and decay.
I saw this pattern over and over, both in my own life, and in the lives of my friends.
It’s a dangerous cycle, and all too many couples don’t realize they’re in it until it’s too late and all the intimacy has been lost.
It would break my heart when I would see my friends and their partners finding themselves in a completely disconnected relationship – living like strangers.
And it was especially devastating to me when they would start the process to end the marriage completely.
So… when Jeff and I first started talking about marriage, I shared my insights on criticism with him.
I told him how I had noticed how even the “so called harmless criticism” seemed to erode relationships.
We had a long talk and decided that we didn’t ever want that to happen to us.
We decided right then and there that we were going be very aware of how our words and actions made the other person feel.
We committed to taking care of each others hearts as if they were a priceless gem that could never be replaced.
We knew we didn’t want blame and criticism to run our marriage, let alone ruin it.
So we thought long and hard about what we were going to do, and then it came:
I asked Jeff one night…
“What if we could invent a relationship that ran entirely on positive energy?”
What if we could eliminate blame and criticism?
Jeff then suggested that we agree to NEVER work on our “RELATIONSHIP” instead we would always just work on ourselves.
Because that way each day we would then be able to offer the very BEST version of ourselves to each other.
We would be accountable for ourselves and not blame the other for any unhappiness or insecurity we were feeling.
But we have now been together for over 2 yrs, and have still never had a fight.
Not even a little one.
We bring our concerns to each other and work on them together, as a team.
We have blended a family,
Purchased a home,
And successfully manage two full time jobs, a business, and a farm together.
Our lives are crazy.
Our lives demand a lot from both of us.
But at the end of the day, we know that we are loved and supported by our relationship, and that makes it all worth it in the end.
It wasn’t easy at first.
But together, we made it our commitment – sticking with it, and developing tools along the way to make sure we didn’t get off track.
About three years later, we are able to switch to these tools immediately, even when things start to get tense between us.
We have found that when you work together,
take responsibility for yourself,
and love each other unconditionally,
it is VERY possible to live together in a loving, peaceful, passionate marriage.
But first you have to address your emotional pain, and treat the underlying problems, not just the symptoms.
You have to be ready to bring the very BEST version of yourself to the relationship each and every day…NO Matter What!
Doing the internal work to heal your emotional pain is not an easy task, but the payoff in the End is worth it…