In my big relationship model – which I share at my live events – I talk about the importance of acknowledging that we all have a past.
We all do.
We all have a metaphorical chest full of memories, experiences and – for lack of a better word – trauma. That’s the baggage we all carry with us through our lives.
Not talking about these things, not acknowledging that they are there is dangerous for your relationship.
They are dangerous actually, for two reasons. First, your partner might involuntarily step on a time-bomb and unintentionally trigger you to explosion point – which is not a good dynamic in a relationship. Secondly, if you bury your past under a mountain of work, actions and distractions, you might internalise things for too long, which could easily come back and bite you.
I always recommend to have many active appointments in your relationship, and one of the most important reasons for this is because it gives you both an opportunity to exchange stories and trauma from each other’s past.
Now, your future is even more important.
Why? Because you have the chance to create it. You can learn from your past experiences and traumas, and use the lessons learned and wisdom gained to craft a relationship that you really want.
This is your life, it is your relationship, and these are your dreams. No one else can create your future but yourself.
You’d be surprised to know that in my online survey there are many couples who have been together for more than 7 years, and they have neither common life goals nor agreed on a family-budget.
How do you expect to create a respectful and lasting relationship if you have not shared the life-changing moments from your past, which will ultimately help you set up aligned life goals for your future?
I recently met two young people – they’ve been a couple and decided that their vision for the future was so different that they’d rather split up now instead of being disappointed two or three years down the track. One of them had a clear plan of when to settle down and have children, and the other was way more open to what the future might bring.
They clearly spoke about their goals and future and explored whether their vision was at all compatible. As they found out it wasn’t, so they decided to end it amicably in the present, to avoid it dissipating sadly in the future.
When your vision is stronger than your memories, then you can move forward.
Remembering and acknowledging your past experiences and memories is important and that’s why it is good to look into that chest of baggage every now and share it respectfully and trustingly with your partner.
Focus on your vision for your future together, your goals and aspirations, so that your baggage can be put to good use.
You want to lift the fog.
You want to see the path in front of you.
You want to be able to walk this path together with your best friend – your spouse.
So what can you do?
The easiest way is to write down what you want in the different areas of your life. What do you want to do, be or have in five or ten years’ time?
You could write an essay or just a list.
You could make a mind map or post-it notes.
The more detailed, the better.
Lift the fog of your future. The clearer you can describe and articulate your vision, the better your mate will understand.
Create a visible representation of your ideas and dreams – called a vision map. Use old pictures from magazines and newspapers and stick them on a visible reminder of what your goals are.
You too can build your future.
Once you have done this, you could encourage your partner to do the same and then go ahead and compare.
You might actually find that this is so much fun, creating your future together with your partner and helping them to create theirs.
And the most exciting part is that – in a few years – you will find that many of your dreams and aspirations actually came true.
If you want to learn more about how to create your future and which areas you should include, please send me a note. I’ve got a pretty cool process for this and am more than happy to share.
She comes to me for help.
She is desperate.
She is not getting through to him.
“Why does he not see me?”
She’s tried everything.
And the best response she’s getting from him is his “What else do you want?”
She gave sex, she withdrew sex.
She cried, she pleaded, she fought, she was even about to hit him.
He is oblivious to her pain.
She wants connection.
She wants to be heard.
She want to relate her feelings.
She wants intimacy – no sex.
She want to be held.
There is nothing coming back.
He says: “We had great sex two days ago, the house is warm, the kids are doing well, the fridge is full, we are happy – what else do you want?”
But she’s not happy – that much is clear. Just not to him.
She loves him, she loved him.
Their romance was always great and he was so cute when they were dating.
Then they moved in with each other and he started to settle.
Then the two kids came along and the distance grew.
He’s a good father and he is fun to be around.
But she is not getting through to him anymore.
He is tired from work.
He’s meeting his mates and having one or two beers too many.
He’s spending more time on his computer, x-box, smart-phone, TV than with her.
And he is not talking to her anymore.
Sure, he talks to her – but not about the real things, the deep things.
So she comes to me.
She is desperate.
“How can I make him show feelings?”
“How can I make him see me?”
“Why doesn’t he talk to me?”
She can’t understand him.
And she can’t stand the growing void between them.
She’s lying awake at night – wondering, thinking, frustrated.
It’s like banging her head against the wall.
What could she do? What could they do?
The biggest issue here is that he does not realise how bad things are.
She won’t leave him – at least not physically.
But she might leave him mentally and then they will live together like flatmates.
They are in there late 40s.
They wait till the kids are out of the house – which might take another ten years.
And then they’ll look at each other and realise that there is nothing left.
Nothing left to be said.
Nothing left from their previous feelings.
Nothing left to be done.
She can’t change him.
Why would he change? He is happy the way it is.
He literally does not see her pain.
“What else does she want from me?”
There are three steps to get you out of this situation.
And each step can be long, tedious and all require patience.
Put yourself into his shoes for a moment.
Try to understand him.
What is he going through in his life right now? He might be totally stressed out at work.
He might be in physical pain.
He might miss the ease of getting an erection and wishes he was 20 years younger.
He might be grief-stricken over losing his parents or one of his best mates.
Try to understand what is going on in his mind.
Stress. Job. Finances. Health. Youth.
Maybe he is as worried about your relationship as you are, but does not dare to voice it.
Deep inside him he wants to be the infallible leader, the fearless warrior and the mighty king – showing his fear to you could/would undermine his role – so he’s better not sharing it in the first place.
He’s not even aware of what is going through your mind.
You need to tell him in a very blunt way: “I am not happy in our relationship.”
You won’t be able to reach him, the moment he walks in the door from work or if he’s in front of the TV.
Get him out of the house – just the two of you. Go to a cosy restaurant, have a stroll at the beach. Anything that gets you away from your normal surroundings.
If you can, organise a weekend away – without the kids.
And then take the opportunity to speak up.
Something along the lines of “I love you. And I know that you love me. Still, I am not happy in our relationship. I’m missing our deep connection that we used to have.”
Make him aware of the pain and desperation you feel.
Now that you’ve put yourself in his shoes (understanding) and now that you’ve told him about your feelings (awareness), you can decide together what is the best next step.
And that is different for every couple.
Try to meditate together could be a starting point. Having regular active appointments could be another.
Even encouraging him to spend alone-time with one of your kids at a time could be a vital step to bring a father back to his senses.
In my Relationship Health Centre you find a great video where I give guidance about how to communicate better and Talking. (It’s only US$ 3.90)
Or if you want to discuss your personal situation with me, please give me a call and we can set up a time. You know with me as your coach we are not airing dirty laundry but looking at the future and the next steps you can take to create your loving, intimate and respectful relationship that lasts.
With over 3,200 participants in my online survey, I have been able to gather a lot of data and insights on the relationship status of many, many couples.
What has become apparent to me is that there are many relationships out there which are on the brink.
Some participants don’t know it yet.
Some of them feel it inside of them.
And the majority are well aware of the pain they are in, but they don’t know what to do.
85% of responses to my survey are from women, which does not surprise me, because often the woman in the relationship have the finer antenna for any disturbances.
Roughly 25% of all participants left a question for me to respond to – indirectly asking for help.
Some of these questions are more comments or statements of how bad their relationship really is, although the same people are not open to change their situation.
This is a very human type of behaviour.
We’d rather take, accept and live in the known situation – even if it is bad – than taking initiative to venture into the unknown.
It’s a bit like a catch 22.
What is less painful? Staying in an unhappy but existing relationship, or changing the situation with a completely unknown outcome?
We all love our comfort-zone, even if it means we are in an unhappy or sometimes toxic relationship.
One of the reasons for people to stay in their unhappy relationship is that they don’t know that there is a way to change this.
And by change, I don’t mean to leave your partner.
Leaving is not an option in most of the cases, because how then do you live? How do you finance a life alone? How would your children cope?
Even though you might think about it, leaving is not an option…
That’s why I came up with the idea of the Relationship Health Centre.
Here you find proven tips that immediately change and improve your relationship.
And they don’t cost the world.
Actually, they cost less than a cup of coffee.
So instead of sitting on your hands and metaphorically banging your head against a brick wall, check out my new service and make sure to access the one tip that could turn your relationship around.
I know that every relationship is different and that your specific situation is most likely very delicate. Try it regardless. What have you got to lose?
If you’d like further support, you could contact me and together we can find a way to support you in your personal situation with a different approach.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
And please let me know which other scenario or proven tip you want to see on the Relationship Health Centre
Recently I spoke with a client of mine about her long way to separation.
I’ve asked her what went through her mind while she was still in the relationship but wanted to get out. I was wondering what kind of thoughts were circling around in her head.
Was it denial? Was it anger?
“No” she said, “I just felt utterly helpless.”
She had her bag packed to leave, but she never did.
One of her friends eventually said to her “You have to unpack your bag!” and my client responded “What are you talking about?” To what her friend responded “You have your bag packed, haven’t you? I know this, I’ve been there myself. But you need to unpack it, because you are not leaving him.”
The point I want to make here is, that we all face situations in our lives where we feel utterly helpless. That’s the time when we reach out to friends or mentors or even professionals.
And in my experience the most difficult challenge for all of us is a relationship that does not serve you, that does not fulfil you and that does not make you happy.
It is so difficult to admit to others that your relationship is at an end. You might not even admit it to yourself. You hope against all odds that some miracle is going to happen and everything is going to be alright.
And then you pack you bag. Certain to leave at the next turning point, the next insult or the next hurt.
That moment comes and goes and you are still sitting there with your bag packed.
Now you are not only furious with your partner, you are even more furious with yourself.
Why can’t you just leave and get over with it?
The little voices inside your head starting to whisper: “Where are you going to live?”, “How will you survive?”, “Will you ever see the kids again?” “If you leave now you forfeit the money or the house or both.”
Unless your vision is stronger than your memory, you don’t go anywhere.
So, you talk to a friend and put it all out there. And then you go home and unpack that bag and hope against all odds that things will change.
What can you do to get out of this cycle?
You only have three options when you are stuck in this unhealthy cycle: Stay, Leave or Change
Staying is the easiest option with the least amount of effort, but also the most frustrating one.
Leaving is harder, because you don’t know where and you don’t know what might happen.
And Change is the hardest of these three options.
Maybe there is still some life in your relationship. Maybe you can resuscitate it with the help of some guidance and positive reactions from your partner.
To do that, you really need to change – not your partner – but yourself. You can’t change the other person; you can only change yourself.
You need to break out of the toxic cycle at home. You need to understand what triggers your reactions and what triggers the reactions of your partner.
Chances are that you are in a behavioural pattern that is neither healthy for your relationship nor for the two of you.
And here is sentence you need to read twice to understand.
If one partner in a relationship changes their behaviour, the other partner cannot not change.
If one partner in a relationship changes their behaviour, the other partner cannot not change.
In other words, if you change your behaviour at home, towards your partner, in arguments you have, and in your whole body-language towards your partner, your partner will notice and also change (involuntarily at first) their own behaviour.
This does not guarantee that your relationship is going to be a happy and healthy one again. The only guarantee I can give you, is that your relationship will change and you have a chance in rescuing it.
It might change for the worse and you’ll want to pack your bag again, but by then you’ll know you’ve given it everything you’ve got, so you won’t doubt your decision.
Or, you could change your story for the better, and build a happier, healthier relationship that finally meets your needs.
In my book you find over 50 practical and proven tips that helps you to find areas for change within your relationship. Order your signed copy now or download the e-Book.
This morning, while walking at the beach, I saw a little girl alone with her surfboard staring out into the roaring sea. She was freezing and shivering. “My dad is still out there surfing” she responded when I asked her. “Oh, does he know you are standing here waiting in the freezing wind?” And she assured me that he would know.
When I walked on, I took a look out to sea myself but could not make out which of the surfers might be her father and I could not see anyone making an effort to come to shore soon. I left her and walked on but turned my head around every now and then to see whether her father would finally pick her up.
My thoughts went to my own children and I asked myself whether I would have left one of my sons standing there, shivering and freezing. I doubt it.
You see, having children means making a lot of sacrifices.
My younger son was born in 1995 during a very hot summer in Germany. It was the same year that the famous artist Christo had finally got the permission to wrap the German Reichstag in cloth for three weeks. It was an absolute happening and was featured by every media outlet in Europe. We had planned to drive to Berlin and spend a weekend there to witness the wrapped Reichstag and celebrate this event.
It wasn’t to be.
Our second son demanded attention and we decided it would be too stressful for all of us to drive to Berlin in the heat with a newborn baby. So, we didn’t. Am I resentful? Not one bit.
Another time, with our first born at 7 days old… I had made the perfect steak with greens and a nice sauce and plated it for my wife and I. At the exact moment we decided to sit and eat, my son also decided that he would be fed. So, I put the plates into the oven to keep them warm and we ate thirty minutes later – a lukewarm, overcooked steak. It happened all the time really, I’m sure you have similar jokes in your family.
There are so many stories I share with my wife where one or both of our kids spoiled an experience for various reasons.
As parents, we actually make sacrifices on a daily basis.
The same is true for your relationship with your spouse.
A successful marriage is a path of compromises and sometimes sacrifices.
If you are not prepared to give in and to find a way of compromise, your relationship won’t last. You’ll build resentment.
If you perceive the actions, choices and wishes of your partner as threatening because they interfere with your own actions, choices and wishes; you are missing the chance for a having a loving, intimate and respectful relationship.
You see, in your relationship, it is not about winning or losing, it is not about whose wishes are fulfilled more often. It is all about the respect for each other and the mindfulness we give.
If you would run the actions, words and requests from your partner through the filter of Love and Understanding first, you would be able to see the reason behind their actions. And usually the reason is not to harm you or to anger you, but deeply rooted in their own world and situation.
Seeking first to understand the reason why your partner is acting a certain way allows you to react in a much more loving and respectful way. It helps to see both sides of the coin.
In those moments, you will be happy to sacrifice your own wishes.
Of course, you could also ask her/him what is really going on in their life right now. Which in turn allows you to talk about your own situation and maybe you can find a compromise where both of your wishes can be fulfilled in a harmonious way.
After I walked about half a kilometre from the girl on the beach, I finally saw a man paddling to shore and taking his daughter into his arm and they both left hand in hand.
And we will never know the full story that unfolded in this situation. Maybe they had made an agreement to go surfing together for ten minutes and after three minutes the girl had had enough and her father wanted to teach her a lesson about keeping promises. Maybe this happens each time and he just wanted to make a point by not coming to the shore immediately. Or maybe he was just surfing and enjoying himself not thinking of her being freezing and shivering.
For more tips please refer to my book – now available as e-book for you to download.