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December 16, 2014

A 12-Question Check-in for Relationship Health.

vintage couple illustration

 

One of the most powerful things I have learned along the way is that I should never be afraid to ask myself questions.

With those questions we should always be prepared to listen to the answers, however difficult they may be to hear.

When I question myself and study the answers, often I have found that I was shying away from things that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. I gain a greater level of clarity and a different perception and with that, I am able to make whatever alterations are necessary for my own happiness. This also benefits those around me even though they may not always see it this way at the time.

In the past, I have been afraid of change. I believed that when things changed it brought along with it insecurities and upheaval. I thought that I was keeping balance and security by keeping things the same.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

In refusing to accept that curves, bends and U-turns were required, I remained far too long in stagnant, unloving and often harmful relationships that had long since passed their sell-by date. I was also unable to improve and nourish relationships that I was in due to a blind belief that because everything was that same as it was yesterday, everything must be okay.

The following questions have helped me to be proactive in keeping love alive, have helped me to live more in the present moment so that I quickly recognize when something needs to be worked on. They have helped me to take control in weeding out negative behaviours and emotions that can be toxic and poisonous to my relationships.

 

1. Are there any resentments or bad feelings that I am holding on to from the past?

Bitterness, anger, regrets, hatred and resentment build walls. The stronger these feelings are and the longer they stand, they become almost impossible to break down. I am the only one suffering when I hold on to things. I learned to communicate, empathize take responsibility and forgive. I took away any power these negative emotions held and from then I freed myself from them. I now let go of old baggage so that I can see things from a clearer perspective.

2. Do I use manipulation tactics or are they being used on me?

Love can be blind to manipulation. No one wants to feel like they are being manipulated. It usually means the other person thinks we are weak and our minds are easily swayed.

3. Are we both learning from mistakes?

If we are not both learning from past mistakes, we will keep continuing to make them until the lessons are learned. Part of life is about making mistakes, we all make them, not one of us is perfect. It’s what I do once the mistake has been made that really counts. When I take account for my actions and take responsibility for the part I play I began to look at what, why and how it happened in order to avoid doing the same thing again.

4. Am I in this relationship because it is convenient?

Do things like financial dependency, children or a stable roof over my head make it difficult to think about leaving? What type of security does this relationship offer and how is this connected to a fear of leaving?

5. Do we have similar outlooks for the future?

This can bring up many questions, marriage, careers, destination, children. There are some very definitive questions that are important to discover if the relationship was heading down the same road. Some of these questions may be deal breakers, it is better that I face up to them sooner rather than later.

6. If I knew then what I know now would I still choose them?

The million dollar question—now that I have got to know my partner better, would will I still choose a relationship with them if we met them for the first time today? This is where unconditional love comes into play. In the beginning, it is far easier to have a checklist for what I see as desirable traits and characteristics. As I fell in love, the list faded. We tended to show our best side in the beginning and then as the relationship continued our shadows crept in. I no longer have the person I placed high on a pedestal and instead I have the reality. Am I truly happy with whom they are now?

7. Am I keeping any secrets that I think could ruin my relationship?

We all keep secrets of some kind that we may not want our partners to know about. Some secrets though, would destroy a relationship, or at the very least cause a great deal of destruction. Secrets, depending how serious, weigh relationships down and in the past have prevented me from getting too close to my partner as I became afraid they would leave if they found out. It is better to try to clear whatever tangles are getting in the way. I try to talk openly, if possible, and if not, try to forgive my self for whatever it is that may have happened and then I learn to let it go.

8. Is the relationship harmful in any way?

Whatever stories I try to convince myself with, relationships should not harm me in any way. Love should never be violent, vicious or destructive.

9. Am I afraid of loneliness?

How do I feel when my partner is not around? Do I feel vulnerable, lonely and desperate for their return? It is important that I do not mask my desire for company by being in a relationship. Before any relationship can be healthy and balanced, I must first be comfortable and at ease on my own. Then, I can know if I am leaning towards co-dependency rather than being with someone that enhances, rather than completes me as an individual.

10. Do I feel loved and also, does my partner truly feel loved?

Regardless of how sure I am that I am loved, it is very important that I feel loved and also make sure that I show it. Expressing love and having someone express it to me in return can be the most amazing feeling when in a loving relationship. It is also essential that I first love my self and show my self that love, but also I should check in with myself: what am I doing to show my love? Am I being shown love regularly? I also remember that I should never expect, have to ask or beg for someone else’s love. I am worthy of being loved for who I am and it is important within a relationship to be shown this.

11. Am I still my own person?

While in a relationship of any kind I know it is very easy to blend and mould into one another. I can forget my self, who I am, my likes and dislikes and can sometimes take on the opinions and beliefs of another before questioning them. To a certain extent, this is good. It can open my minds and lead me to consider alternative options. However, it is very important to retain my own identity and to remain true to who I am.

12. If I could leave the relationship very easily and immediately with no implications, would I?

Relationship break-ups can be destructive, dramatic and extremely painful. Leaving a relationship has sometimes been avoided, as I didn’t want to face the aftermath. Finding somewhere new to live, splitting material possessions, working out finances, custody for children, the possibility of the other person moving on very quickly—often the fear surrounding what will happen next is what kept me in something just as destructive. I now consider and remember, the sooner I face it, the sooner I can deal with it all and begin to get over it. Putting off the inevitable just adds delays; the first step is always the hardest, but once begun, it’s just a matter of one firm small step in front of the other.

One of the reasons it is very important to regularly ask myself loaded questions like these, is that time changes everything. My partner and I are both on journeys both inside and outside of our minds. Time alters everything. If we refuse to flow we will be holding our selves and each other back.

Quite often I find that I also hold on to friendships and relationships that may have been healthy for us many years ago, but, are not so healthy for us today. And if they are not so good for me, quite likely, they are not great for them either.

When I stay still and really listen to what’s going on in the inside, I can dig very deep and can find all the answers I need. My heart is often the one to lead in relationships—that’s all good, but I must also remember to use my mind. Sometimes I guard my heart temporarily, allow reasoning to take over, take check and then return to love knowing I am heading back out in the right direction.

Intimate questions sometimes ignite uncomfortable and unwelcome feelings. They are still important and they need heard, it takes a lot of courage to be brave enough to listen to what my soul is telling me. I just stay still, listen close and listen carefully.

Once changes have been recognized and I take action to improve aspects of my life, I am happier and so are my loved ones. I am also prepared that it sometimes takes a lot of work and more than a few difficult conversations to get there—conversations that are difficult for myself and for others.

But ones that absolutely needed to happen.

**

Relephant Reads: 

30 Important Questions to Ask Before we Commit to a Relationship.

How to Love Better: Mindfulness in Relationships. 

Get Unstuck in Your Relationship With One Simple Statement.

~

Mindful offering:

A Book about a Different Kind of Love.

 
Bonus!

Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Author: Alex Sandra Myles 

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: MCAD Library at Flickr 

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