As people, we are social creatures living in bonds of relationships. Some of these relationships are loving, where we are equal partners, and some are challenging to participate in or even just to endure. Loving relationships need constant attention and nurturing.Then there are those relationships where you are challenged–what is in your capacity to do?

Since we are not alone in this play, the first thing we tend to do is wait or expect the other person to change. Sitting in our good old comfort zone is easy, but we realise later on that we’ve wound up being stuck in a painful relationship for years... We might give suggestions, tell the other what she / he needs to do differently, but it is up to them whether they make the change or not. It is not in our hands; we do not have the capacity to control the situation this way. A long time can pass and our passive, waiting attitude does not bear fruit.

Relationships will change if one of the participants changes. Maybe it will only be a change inside you, but that is still change, regardless. There are different levels of changing our attitude in a relationship. Now I would like to write about expectations, presumptions, and beliefs. Years of pain and disappointment will not cease in a jiffy, but conscious work can give you a peaceful state of mind and a more conscious presence in your relationship.

Observe your expectations of this person.
What should this person do? This person should be kind to you / love you / be affectionate / figure out what makes you happy. You can add your own findings to the list. And the other side: this person should not make the house messy / talk to me this way / cause me pain. Be specific and recall the event when you thought this thought. All sentences with “should” and “should not” show you the side of the story that you cannot change. Maybe this person should pay more attention–but can you really make this happen, make this reality?

Observe your presumptions of this person.
I assume this person loves me, cares for me, is affectionate, accepts me as I am, will never hurt me–add your own! Are these true? Mark those that you are absolutely sure to be true.

Observe your beliefs of this person.
I thought this person would be honest with me, have faith in me or take care of my wellbeing–anything else? Have your beliefs stood the test of time? Check those beliefs that you have experienced and that have proved to be true.

Now look at your lists and give yourself a pat on the shoulders, for you have come far already and are becoming aware of your part in the relationship. Note that one thing is for sure: the other does not know all this! The other person is unaware of your expectations, your presumptions or your beliefs. Probably you have already told them some of them or hinted at them, but your partner surely could not have written down all these. Maybe it is not wise to tell them or show them all these words, but can you choose one and initiate a conversation about it? If this is too much to ask, write a letter to your partner, but do not send it–it is okay if years of pain or untold thoughts are hard to voice in a face-to-face situation. You can also investigate one (or more, or all) and turn it into an accepting and true sentence.

For example:
She / he should not talk to me this way!
I am able to let her / him know how these words affect me.

I assume she / he loves me.
I can recall and record the times I felt loved when with her / him.

I thought she / he is honest with me.
I trust her / him and have not yet experienced dishonesty.

Make sure to summarize your learning points of this exercise! Can you do this with another relationship?

Author's Bio: 

Orsolya Hernold is the writer of orzola.org, a blog dedicated to personal growth by journaling. Orsolya offers topics with powerful questions to explore, online journaling courses, and printed journals to help readers to create the habit of journaling. Follow her by subscribing at orzola.org, on Facebook (OrzolaJournal) or on Twitter (OrzolaJournal).