Do you ever wonder what makes a couple successful?
Some of them just seem to weather any difficulties that come their way and come out still being loving and connected.
They might have extremely sad experiences—a death of a parent, a business that collapsed, a bad car accident. Even through these, rather than blaming, withdrawing or being angry with one another, they survive and, ultimately thrive. They could be called “unstoppable”?
What does it mean to be an unstoppable couple?
To me, it means many things:
- Being a couple who continually is looking for ways to get closer, more authentic, happier and more peaceful.
- Finding ways to celebrate how far you’ve come toward your vision of an ideal relationship
- Being willing to do the work of making amends for past mistakes in which you had a part
- Searching for ways to enhance your sexual relationship so that it is robust, satisfying and an expression of your emotional connection
- Discovering your partner’s wishes, dreams and hopes by being willing to open up conversations that are focused on your partner.
- Courageously opening difficult topics and staying curious and calm in those conversations
- Holding your partner’s wishes to be as important as your own.
- Willingness to compromise, surrender or hold firm in the situations that require these qualities.
- Seeking help when you are stuck in any important way
- Being able to be influenced by your partner’s ideas.
- Building the capacity to stay calm during disagreements.
- Working on yourself to increase your abilities to be the partner that you want to be.
- Listening carefully to your partner.
- Committing to avoid criticism, contempt, shaming or blaming even when you are angry.
- Being loyal and believing that you have backup from your partner and you can count of that.
I have asked many such couples how they built their unstoppable relationship and how they maintain it over the years. I was determined to figure this out so that I could help the couples I work with to be this way too.
First, they create a respectful, loving and peaceful atmosphere.
With that foundation on which the relationship is built, much can be accomplished. From that place of safety, any topics, both difficult and easy, can be brought into the light (rather than hidden in darkness).
If the orientation to each conversation is: “We are seeking to understand each other better”, then the result, even of arguments, is increased emotional closeness. And the closer, emotionally, that a couple is, the more unstoppable they are.
Since each relationship involves two imperfect humans (we are all imperfect), then the more each person seeks self-awareness, the better it is for the couple.
When we are more self-aware, we are able to understand our reactions to events much better. We can then take personal responsibility for our own part of any problems and then take appropriate steps to alter the learned reactions from our past.
Here is an example of a couple I worked with (names are changed):
Jessica and Todd were stuck in a cycle of daily arguing, often forgetting mid-way through what exactly started the argument, in the first place. With each fight, they felt more alone, discouraged and hopeless that this cycle would ever end.
Jessica’s family had engaged in loud arguing, almost as sport, and being the quietest one, she often felt overrun and invisible in this boisterous atmosphere. She learned early that she was not going to be heard, so she might as well get silent. She promised herself that she would not marry anyone that argued like that and wouldn’t listen to her.
Todd’s family was more authoritarian with the parents deciding the agendas and the children expected to go along, unquestioningly. As the oldest child, Todd opted to “stand up” to his parents, by disagreeing and arguing loudly (but often with poor results).
In Todd and Jessica’s marriage, Todd’s way of starting a conversation would likely involve complaining about something and blaming Jessica or Jessica’s way of doing things. Jessica, being careful not to become invisible, but not sure how to argue any other way, was very defensive and expressed it verbally. Then the argument escalated to many topics. Jessica got more and more defensive and Todd got more and more adamant that he was right and Jessica was wrong.
Both of them were left feeling misunderstood, stuck, alone and frustrated. Something had to change. At first, each thought it was the other spouse that should change. Neither was wrong, but they also learned that they each needed to change, too.
Jessica and Todd began to understand that they each had learned a way of fighting that was based more on their original family’s way of doing things, and not the way they wanted to be in their marriage. Things began to change. Each was able to take responsibility for their part in the argument and also their power to change the dynamic. They created some “rules” for arguing that would be less likely to trigger their old habits. They grew to understand why their spouse acted a certain way, and that understanding reduced the fighting significantly. As they each learned new possibilities for engaging in disagreements, they began to listen to one another and understand each other better.
Now, each was able to feel safer in the midst of an argument. They learned that they could talk about any topic and have it turn out well. They were now on the way to being unstoppable.
Jessica and Todd increased their awareness, took responsibility for their part, decided to make some changes, then made them. That is the action part of the unstoppable formula:
Awareness. Responsibility. Decision. Action
There is more. The unstoppable couples also told me about how they think about their partner and the relationship—their mindsets.
The partners each thought of their relationship as an unbreakable bond. Leaving wasn’t an option that they entertained, even in the hardest times.
They thought about their own contributions to the difficult times in addition to being aware of their partner’s part. Both believed that their partner was doing their best at the time and gave them the benefit of the doubt. They forgave each other when harsh words were spoken or trust was broken in small or large ways. Both definitely became angry at times, but expressed it respectfully, most of the time. And they forgave again and again, from a position of love.
Unstoppable couples are regular people who treat their spouses like cherished friends. They can fight, but they make up. They fully accept each other.
The last thing I want to tell you, and a very important point, is that many unstoppable couples were not always that way. Many sought help, when their relationship was in trouble. Those couples became my clients, like “Todd” and “Jessica”.
- They learned new skills that enabled them to build an unstoppable relationship.
- They learned to trust, to cherish, to be grateful for and to give their partners the benefit of the doubt.
- They learned that they, themselves, played a part in the trouble and how to “clean that up”.
- They began to think about the other in a loving way. They built an unstoppable relationship.
If you would like to talk with me about any of these ideas, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear from you.
Here’s to building unstoppable relationships!