There are many aspects that are needed to make a relationship happy & satisfying. I have worked with hundreds of couples and their unawareness of the Five Pillars and how they should be applied is very common. Couples come in to see me feeling frustrated and fed up going over the same issues, again and again, they don’t know any other way, people do the best they can with the emotional and intellectual knowledge they have at that particular time. I want to share my knowledge of the Five Pillars and why they are so important for relationships and I hope you find your own pearls of wisdom that resonate with your situation and that could be applied to enhance your relationship.
When I work with couples I show them how to apply the Five pillars specifically to their relationship, they are excited because they can see that with a relatively small shift in awareness and knowledge huge positive changes can occur, which then flow onto many aspects of their relationship. A little change can have a huge impact.
1st Pillar – Effective Communication.
This Pillar I have placed 1st because knowing how to communicate effectively makes it difficult to implement numbers 2-5. Learning how to communicate in this way can be like learning a new language, it takes practice to make progress, I am supporting my clients at each step working at their pace.
- Active listening
- I _ messages
- Be concrete and clear
- Show empathy
- Non-verbal communication
The communication process:
- Understand clearly what you want to say, what is it that you need your partner to hear, and be clear with yourself first.
- Choose the right time, never talk to your partner when the emotions are heightened because at this stage the rational side of the brain has shut down and the emotional brain is in operation this means that the person is in fight or flight, so nothing productive will be achieved at this stage.
- Then make this request to chat with your partner be mindful of your tone of voice, your partner will be open to hearing what you are saying or they will shut down. “ Hey sweety I have something to chat to you about is now a good time”? or make a time for later. Doing it this way you are being respectful of your partner’s time, you are not taking them by surprise, if you do then they may become defensive as they feel unprepared and the person who has the issue may be heightened as they have put off talking about the issue but now they are geared up for it. And by agreeing to a discussion they are far more open to talking about and listening to what you need, as they have said yes and it was done very respectfully.
Benefits of Effective Communication:
- Deliver and receive a message so it does not turn into conflict, both are heard and acknowledged.
- Become a great listener and find out more about your partner
- Have your needs met easily and effectively
- How to use active listening.
- Creates closeness and transparency.
- Builds trust and respect.
- Have the relationship you both desire easily.
2nd Pillar – Responsibility
“ You are responsible for the energy you bring into the room?”
We can be quick to make a comment to our partner such as, “ you made me angry “ “ you upset me “ ‘ I wouldnt of said that if you didn’t do ….” No one can make you feel anything, if you are upset it what you’re attaching to the situation, a saying that I often share with clients is that “ No one can hurt me that’s my job” Its what I am attaching to the comment or situation based on my past experience.
Responsibility can be applied to many aspects of a relationship, it’s being responsible for your own needs, your triggers, your negative behavior, and your partner’s needs. Being able to take responsibility within a relationship is a sign of maturity and willingness to be prepared to look more deeply into why you behave the way you do and to be able to say I understand that my behaviour has not been great and I am willing to change this for our relationship.
People flare up when they have a difficult conversation is because they have been triggered by a word or action. This response is subconscious which means that the individual usually has no idea why they are behaving this way or they know where it’s coming from but have no idea how to stop it from happening. This triggering response because of this disturbance usually comes from a past experience that could have occurred in childhood and has not been resolved, there is unfinished business within the subconscious and it’s the individuals’ responsibility to resolve this at a core level so the trigger can disappear and does not come between the couple as an ongoing problem any longer. I do this with my clients in an individual setting using either EMI or RCH. This is a fast and effective way to resolve this disturbance within the subconscious,
When a commitment to be in a relationship has been made, there is an unspoken obligation to make sure the needs of your partner will be met to the best of your ability. I am talking about needs that only a partner can provide such as Love, kindness, care, and respect between the couple. Such as applying your partner’s love language so they are satisfied, obviously, you both need to agree on the terms.
Benefits of taking responsibility:
- Learn who you are, what your needs are, the clearer you are the more you can share this with your partner with positive results
- Remove negative behaviours, feelings, and emotions that are not serving you.
- Encourages trust due to transparency.
- Learn more about your partner at a deeper level
- Feel in control of yourself
- Have clearer boundaries for you personally and the relationship.
- Higher self-esteem
3rd Pillar – Understanding & Acceptance
Acceptance is so important in a relationship it is one of the Pillars of having a successful relationship. Accepting little quirks, differences, floors, and personalities in ourselves and our partner is part of being in a relationship. Our past experience stemming from birth helps to create the people we are today and it determines how we make meaning of our current worlds such as our values and beliefs. When observing our partner we can look at them with our own thoughts which are our individual perceptions that have been developed based on our previous experience, ( which is normally not their reality at all) which can determine how we see the world we can become confused about how can our partner think that way it doesn’t make sense as it’s completely different from the way we think, this can lead to showing our partner frustration about their behavior, we may say “you are wrong” etc. We look at them through a biased lens that is our own, we don’t really see them for who they are.
Could you imagine being in a relationship with someone for 20 years and only looking at them through what you perceive to be true, your reality, Imagine how it would be if your partner understood you for who you are, why you think that way, why you behave that way, listening to your experience, seeing who you are and understanding that we are not all the same, we have imperfections and embracing all our differences, how amazing would that feel if your partner looked at you and really understood who you or at least is open to that idea. Being able to accept what you imagine to be your partner’s imperfections as well as their positive points which make up the whole of who they are, it’s all of them as they are, embracing it all.
I was in a relationship with someone who would assume that I was thinking a certain way based on only his perception, I felt frustrated, not validated, unheard, disrespected, and after some time I felt a feeling of hopelessness at being heard because it didn’t matter how many different ways I tried to say the same thing, my truth was never his reality and in his eyes, it wasn’t true so basically, I was being called a liar. Can you imagine how that makes a person feel being in a one-sided relationship? This was my experience and I see this happening with nearly every couple I see so I understand the importance of acceptance of others’ opinions whether you feel it’s right or wrong it’s still their truth.
It’s a respectful act to acknowledge that your partner has their own opinion their own beliefs, and their own ideas and that’s okay because it makes up who they are and that because of those differences it creates a deeper level of IN-TO-ME-SEE within the relationship.
I encourage you if in the future your partner does have an opinion that’s different from yours or sharing something about themselves, showing what you perceive as inappropriate, just take down your lens be aware of your own perception and listen to what they are saying, you’ll find out who they are at a deeper level, what they like, it’s a very beautiful to be seen and accepted by your intimate partner before you were a couple you were individuals that came together and both individuals have unique behaviours that may interfere with the other and it’s okay not to change those behaviours if it doesn’t get in the way of the needs of the other partner.
Respectfulness maturity, understanding, patience, and kindness are all needed to be able to show acceptance to another, we may not like it but we do love our partner so we are able to accept all of them as we would appreciate being accepted.
Benefits of Understanding & Acceptance:
- Autonomy within the relationship
- More clarity and less conflict
- Happier and more satisfied when being heard and acknowledged
- Accepted for who you are
- Feelings of being important to your partner
- Learn who your partner is
- Embrace differences
- Develops deeper connection and intimacy
4th Pillar – Compromise & Change
The 4th Pillar is being able to compromise and having the willingness to change. Relationships are a constant compromise it needs to be because there are two of you now not just one frankly if you don’t think you should compromise then stay single and do what you want.
There is flexibility in engaging in both compromise and change, relationships need to be fluid, flowing with the presenting situation, if it’s not then the situation becomes ridged and stuck and nothing can be resolved where both are satisfied. Being able to compromise on a situation means both are listened to and you come up with a solution where both needs are met, a solution that may not get you 100% of what you want but you are happy with the result. An example of this may be you have a disagreement on let’s say what time the kids go to bed, one of you believes that the kids should be in bed by a certain time, and the other feels it’s okay to stay up later both of you have your reasons why, now most couples if not willing to compromise can develop an argument, which can entail name calling and this Leeds to a breakdown in the relationship. Imagine if both parents could express why they feel that way and both opinions are acknowledged understanding why the other feels that way then coming up with a compromising solution. “ What if we put the kids to bed at this time Monday to Thursday and on the other days they can stay up a little later” When we understand our partner’s needs and we know how to communicate with them, needs can be met and peacefulness and unity as a couple can strengthen. We are all different and when we choose to be in a relationship we need to compromise.
The stages of compromise are:
- Understand what you need, why you have the issue, is it a value, etc because the clearer you are the clearer your partner will understand what you are saying, if you just become emotional about the situation without clarity you won’t get what you need.
- Listen to each other ideas and reasons by being present and acknowledging, it’s not good or bad just a different perspective
- Can up with a solution that you BOTH agree with, you are equally happy with the compromise. If a decision is made without both being happy then the original issue may still become a problem at some point because the solution may seem to be controlled resulting in only one partner being happy, this can lead to resentment and an unconscious attempt to sabotage the compromise
Let’s talk a little about change – just as you need flexibility in compromise this can be applied when making a few changes. The changes I am talking about are about certain behaviours that may interfere with a partner’s needs not being met, not about changing the core essence of a person just certain behaviors. We shouldn’t care to change how your partner chooses to dress, how they laugh, or little quirky habits, these behaviours do not have a direct effect on the other so there is no need to change them, these behaviours may be just an annoyance, then this is part of your partner and acceptance may be a good option here, I always say choose your battles. Our current state of feelings and emotions is determined by how we choose to look at a situation.
If the behaviour does have a direct effect on the other partner where their needs are not able to be met then change will need to occur so both partners can feel happy and satisfied equally. An example of this is just saying you like to drive fast but if frightened your partner and your partner asks you politely with giving you a reason the please slow down as it frightens me then you will need to slow down as this does have a direct result on your partner. But it is in times like this that we do need to choose our environment to have that chat with our partner.
Benefits of compromise:
- Both parties feel satisfied with the result
- Feelings of being important and validated in the relationship
- Problems can be resolved, stopping the dysfunctional cycle of confrontation on the same subject.
- Both couples feel a greater connection.
5th – Pillar Common Goals & Direction
Let’s look at why having common goals are very important to a couple. When a couple first begins their relationship, they have so many common goals they do nearly everything together they plan holidays, dinners out, buy a house, etc. Then life gets in the way, they start to spend less time together, and don’t have a clear direction as to where the relationship is going? They become unhappy, and lonely not getting the needs met that are required within a relationship and this could be as simple as having fun, and laughing together.
- Relationship goals – what type of relationship do you want?
- Bigger long-term – goals such as a big purchase or OS trip.
- Short term goals – date nights, weekends away, seeing friends, exercising together
- Personal Goals
Having Goals to strive for are very beneficial for couples as it makes them feel secure, there is a plan, they can feel satisfied knowing that there is something to look forward to, it builds an even stronger connection between the couple. Can you imagine if there are no goals at all, and a couple is just floundering through life, if you flounder you will flap about like a fish out of water there is a lot of action happening but it’s wasted energy. it can seem unfulfilling and this may engage emotions such as anger, frustration, resentment, hopelessness, and sadness. When a couple begins to have a family they can start to lose sight of the partnership and focus on other things which at the time is important, but there is a time to come back again as a couple. Have you heard of the saying do you work to live or live to work? Once again this comes back down to prioritizing the relationship and to do this the couple needs to be self-aware and have awareness of how the relationship is traveling. Setting a few goals together that you are both excited about and could be just paying off the credit card. Individual goals are also very important and it’s important not to lose yourself in the relationship when you honor your likes, and hobbies you are going to be a happier person and you can bring this back into the relationship, sharing something new with your partner.
I hear all the time we don’t have time, we don’t have a babysitter, we don’t have money there may be legitimate reasons of course but … they are resolvable issues there are ALWAYS solutions The beginning of a relationship is fun because it is easy, then life sets in, having a happy and satisfying relationship takes work and commitment
- Always put each other first, have each other’s back
- Get to know your partners’ needs, values, and desires.
- Have a balance of ‘together time’ and ‘alone time’
- Know what your partner’s love language is
- Always tell your partner important news first
- Be your partner’s biggest supporter
- Make regular time to talk about your relationship, what’s working well, what not so much.
- Be responsible for what you need, and communicate it with your partner
- Have fun.
- Have long term and short term goals
- Be transparent about your feelings.
- Bring fun and newness into the relationship
- Make intimacy fun and try new things.
Being in a relationship that is happy and satisfying does take a strong commitment the tools are available the only thing that is required is a readiness to make changes and this does not need to be a fast process, just slow and steady remember the turtle won the race, not the hare.
I hope you have a happy and satisfying relationship