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One Magic Strategy for Your Relationship
By Susan Page
Whether you are in a happy time with your partner right now or experiencing stress, there is one powerful, easy strategy you can use by yourself to create a more pleasant atmosphere in your home, almost instantly! At the same time, this new tactic will begin mending the chronic issues that recur between the two of you over and over. I call it a Loving Action, and, like all the Loving Actions I teach, it is based on universal spiritual principles, or Spiritual Partnership.
Hard to believe that one strategy could work so fast? Try it. One person recently wrote me, "I now know that if I follow your suggestions, my relationship will really improve. How often can this be said?"
The true beauty of this Loving Action is that you can make a dramatic positive impact on the quality of your relationship without involving your partner. Your partner won't even know that you are doing anything different. Unlike conventional relationship techniques, which involve two-way communication, this Loving Action is unilateral, giving you total control over it. It's like a secret gift you give your partner. You'll both start feeling closer, and your partner will have no idea why!
Here's the Loving Action: For a specific period of time, say three days or one week, make a solemn pact with yourself that you will refrain from making any negative, critical, or demanding comments to your partner.
The first thing you will discover is how often you make negative, critical, or demanding comments without realizing it, and without recognizing how much they drag down the energy in your relationship. First, you'll hear yourself making a negative comment. "Darn, I wish those dumb telemarketing calls would stop!" or "Honey, you left the garage light on again!" Then will come the magic moment when you realize you were about to make a negative comment, and you will stop yourself from saying it. Congratulate yourself, and realize how completely useless this remark was going to be!
During your agreed upon self-pact, you may have to take care of some "problems" by yourself. You'll turn out the garage light yourself and say nothing about it. You'll run an errand yourself, or do a neglected household job yourself. Its part of the loving gift you are giving your partner.
"Just a second!" I can hear you saying. "This isn't fair! I'm supposed to ignore my partner's lack of cooperation, do all the work myself, and let my partner sit around a be a slob?"
Well, sort of. But I wouldn't put it in that language.
For the time being, erase from your mind the categories of fair and equal, and look instead at whether what you are doing is effective. What is the goal of your relationship? Is it to reform your partner, so he or she will change and become more (affectionate, talkative, thoughtful, helpful, fair!- fill in the blank)? Or is the goal of your relationship to feel good together, to enjoy your time with each other, to support and love one another? I encourage you to focus on this second goal, because your efforts to reform your partner will only diminish the quality of your lives together, and it will never be effective.
When you conduct the experiment of refraining from all negative, critical, or demanding comments, you will be offering your relationship Loving Leadership. A leader is one who voluntarily agrees to watch over, not only his or her own needs, but the needs of the whole group and everyone in the group. Leadership is usually not "fair." The leader may have to do more work. But good leadership is effective-at keeping everyone happy and feeling good, at bringing out the best in everyone, and in keeping the group functioning well.
In the 60s and 70s, we had to worry a lot about fairness and equality, because they were missing in the rigid breadwinner/homemaker model of the fifties. But we are now ready to move beyond fairness and equality to a completely new universe: Spiritual Partnership. In Spiritual Partnership, the goal of your relationship is to behave in the most spiritual, loving way that you can. The question is not, "How can we solve our problems?, or "What's the fair way to work this out?" The only question is, "If I were going to behave in accordance with my highest spiritual values right now, what would I do?"
When you make this inner shift, your relationship will begin to flourish all by itself. You won't "solve" your problems, you will outgrow them, by viewing your relationship as a spiritual practice.
Now, look at refraining from all negative comments and taking care of problems creatively on your own in this new context. By being the "big" person here, you are behaving in a more spiritual way, offering a loving gift to your partner and your relationship, and participating in a larger, more spiritual view of the purpose of your relationship.
For decades now, we have made the mistake of applying the rules of the marketplace to our relationships. But the goal of the marketplace is to get ahead, to make deals, to outsmart the other guy and watch over your own needs. The purpose of love is to love. That's all.
Scott Peck's famous definition of "love" in The Road Less Traveled is, "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." When you voluntarily take on the spiritual discipline of stopping all negative, critical, or demanding comments, that's exactly what you will be doing: nurturing your own and your partner's spiritual growth.
And I promise, you will be amazed at the extraordinary effect your simple gift will have on your relationship. Don't take my word for it. Try it for yourself. And I'd love to hear how it works for you!
About the author: Repeat Oprah guest Susan Page developed her breakthrough couples work, Spiritual Partnership, over twenty years of working with couples and five bestselling books. Her couples groups are unique, because only one partner is permitted to attend the group. She teaches Loving Actions that are both easier and more effective than complex communication techniques. Susan's books have been translated into twenty foreign languages. She has been featured on CNN, NPR, PBS, and Good Morning America, and her international speaking and media career has taken her to twenty-six states, Italy, Korea, Australia, Canada, and Mexico. Visit Susan at www.susanpage.com.