They can both be really uncomfortable.
I started doing the 7-minute workout recently and was sharing how much my legs shook when doing the wall-sit exercise. I was then told that being able to do the wall sit is linked to success in long-term relationships. I did look up this statistic, but could not find any corroborating evidence. However, the logic makes sense to me. The correlation is, if you can do the wall-sit, you don’t take discomfort seriously and are able to look beyond the experience and keep going.
This would indicate that long-term relationships have high levels of discomfort at times. As unromantic as this is, it is very helpful to understand that conflict and discomfort in intimate relationships are normal. Often new couples have expectations that things will go smoothly at the beginning of their relationship and will blame themselves and their relationship if they have a bumpy and volatile beginning rather than understanding this is a normal part of learning and growing together. And when it is seen as abnormal many couples think they made a mistake and need to start over again with someone they are more compatible with. And couples in long-term relationships can feel embarrassed and ashamed to admit that their relationship going through a difficult time. And can also conclude the solution to their difficulties is to move on.
I have no attachment to couples staying together or judgment on divorce. But with the couples, Angus and I work with we want to support them being clear, loving, and non-reactive so they can make the best decision for themselves. Also, I share my personal opinion that lessons not learned in one relationship are going to be the same lessons needing to be learned in subsequent relationships and the lessons can get harder. Divorce statistics information for the U.S. shows that 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 74% of third marriages end in divorce.
I am hoping that simply knowing it is okay for relationships to be difficult at times will take the pressure off. Relationship perfection does not exist, and relationship comparison gets us nowhere.
What to do when you are in a phase of relationship difficulty. Understanding what it is is key.
When there is an increase in relationship conflict and a decrease in intimacy the obvious place to look is at our partner. When we do this we see if they were different these challenges would not exist. Then it starts us down the rabbit hole of thinking how our partner could be better. How our lives would be better if our partner were different, and then the next logical conclusion is to start looking for a new partner.
The second most obvious place is to look at ourselves when we are having relationship difficulties and see everything that is wrong with us. From there we realize how awful we are and no wonder our partner doesn’t love us. They are obviously going to leave us because of our inadequacies so we may as well prepare for being rejected and abandoned.
We usually do a combination of the two depending on our level of self-loathing in the moment.
What if these two options don’t make any sense because the person doing the observations can’t see straight? We tend to look at our partner, our relationship, and ourselves when we are not thinking clearly. Our emotional upset has us feel compelled to look for the problem and solve it so we can suffer less.
This is exactly the wrong direction to look in. When you are upset and hurt. Your capacity for clear, neutral, balanced, helpful observation is down the toilet. Your perspective is skewed and cannot be trusted. Anything you look at through this lens is going to look bad. I’ve had clients tell me even their children look like a problem when they are in that state of mind.
So when you are experiencing a difficult period in your relationship and you are feeling hurt and upset know this is not the time to put you, your partner, or your relationship under critique. You will see everything that is wrong with them, you and it, and your hopefulness will go down and your discouragement will go up.
Instead, can you just see that you are suffering? Recognize that you are hurting. This is not the time to figure things out. This is the time to be kind and gentle with yourself while you are in a difficult spot. This is where the wall-sit skill is helpful. Can you be okay with your suffering knowing it will pass and not try to fix anything while you ride the discomfort out?
Can you not react to your emotional experience and just let it move through you? Knowing it will pass as all emotions do.
And can you connect with a deeper part of you that is always there no matter what thoughts and feelings come and go? There are many different labels for this your inner knowing, wisdom, common sense, god, true self… Do you know that space within yourself?
That is the direction to look when your relationship is in difficulty. You start with your Self first. Rather than digging into your thoughts, worries, and concerns in an attempt to escape the discomfort of your emotional experience. Leave them alone. Remember emotional intensity always passes, and look beyond that to your deeper Self. Listen to your inner knowing. Feel into the impersonal love that is your essence. Drop into the feeling of who you are.
I am not going to tell you how to do that because there is no one way. You know the way that works for you.
Remember, relationships can be really difficult at times. When you feel this way in your relationship it doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong, or your relationship is bad, or your partner is terrible. It means you are having a hard time in that moment. Be kind to yourself and see if you can remember the words of your grandma: “This too shall pass.” See if you can use the experience as a reminder to look within and to listen more deeply to your Self. And you need to recognize what your True Self sounds and feels like. The one thing I know for sure is it is loving. That can range from tough-love to sweet-love, but it is love nonetheless.
So whether you are doing a wall-sit or in a s#*t phase in your relationship, know the discomfort will pass and look to the deeper part of you that knows how to ride the experience out. If you need to make changes you will, and let your wisdom guide you, not your pain.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their full potential. She is a transformative coach, leadership consultant, a regular blogger for Thrive Global, and author of the short-read Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1) available on Amazon. You can get her free eBook Relationships here. Rohini has an international coaching and consulting practice based in Los Angeles helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. She is also the founder of The Soul-Centered Series: Psychology, Spirituality, and the Teachings of Sydney Banks. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and watch her Vlogs with her husband. To learn more about her work go to her website, rohiniross.com.