Let’s face it, relationships aren’t easy. A fruitful partnership takes work and it can seem impossible when you find yourself in a futile disagreement over whose turn it is to do the laundry or what’s for dinner. It’s not what you had envisioned for yourself, nor the way you intend to speak to your partner. It happens to most and it makes no logical sense (since when are emotions logical?). The culprit: unspoken expectations.
Managing expectations, knowing how to ask for what you need, finding the right words to communicate your needs, and altering your life to make space for the kind of relationship you’re looking for is what this week’s Unconventional Life guest does professionally.
Best selling author, speaker, thought-leader, and PAX community creator, Alison Armstrong, has spent the last 30 years researching what destroys, makes and builds partnerships.
What is the difference between a relationship and a partnership? Although often used interchangeably, Alison explains these two terms as two very different things.
Relationships are most often defined by expectations. Most often unspoken, expectations are what we think should happen, what we feel entitled to, and what we often have never considered needs verbalizing to our partners. It is when these unspoken expectations are not met that arguments can occur. Generally, one’s understanding of how a relationship is going is based upon how one feels their needs are being met and how well they feel they are meeting their partners’ needs. Again, this is almost always a completely unspoken experience. Most relationships are doomed by “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
Partnerships, on the other hand, are created, formed, and built on accountability. As Alison states, count-on-ability. What she means is a discussed agreement by which each person vocalizes their needs, wants, and requests. Each partner is to bring a set of needs or wants to the table. These needs and wants are discussed and an agreement is made on the things each party is or is not willing to do. No questioning, no guessing, and no unspoken expectations. If a request has never been made, there are no grounds for disappointment. One of the definitions of partnership is being on the same team.
If you are not present with your relationship, and I mean really present with it, it will not survive. Simple. It must be a priority. It must be tended to regularly. The relationship can’t just stay alive without all parties present. You and your presence with the relationship are what sustains it.
There are two key factors that, when intersected, dictate your ability to have a successful life, a successful relationship, and to remain present for it all. It is what you do with these two factors that tell the story of your life.
- Time, How do you spend your time?
- Energy, How do you spend your energy?
Energy includes money. After all it’s your life force and your time that you exchange for money, isn’t it? Oh, and worry. Worry spends both time and energy. If you want to change your life, then change how you spend these two factors. By using the word spend, a choice is implied. You choose how you spend your time and you choose how you spend your energy. Don’t like how your life is going? Make a change.
“Changing one’s life is not complicated. We think it is complicated, but it’s not, it’s just time and energy. And you could change it a little bit at a time and have a huge effect.”
Alison states the importance of women knowing that men are much more aware of how much time they spend caring for something. Caring is a huge expenditure of energy and men are typically much more aware of this expenditure of energy.
Honor Yourself or All is Lost
Fundamentally, if you don’t know yourself, how can another? When we don’t know why we do the things we do (and you have to know there’s a reason for it) we find ourselves in the position of not having the language to identify, ask for, nor get our needs met. From this position, it’s an uphill battle.
“Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong”
-Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way)
It is crucial that we treat ourselves with compassion and respect. We will never let anyone treat us better than we treat ourselves and if we don’t show them how to do it, they won’t have a model for how to treat you.
“Self-knowledge. Until we know ourselves, until we understand ourselves, until we accept what we discover about ourselves, we won’t have boundaries in the right places. We will tolerate being criticized for things that we should never allow, or it’s not good for us to ever allow, and we can’t be our own best advocates.”
Get in Touch with Alison
This article was written by Olenka Toroshenkohttps://www.olenkatoroshenko.com/