Giving Up Your Agenda for Your Relationship’s Future

Relationships are hard. There’s no way around this. The longer you’re with someone, the more time you have to grow together, enhance your connection, and share experiences together. However, the more you’re together, you also have more time and potential to hurt each other, and break trusting bonds that you previously had.

The fear of vulnerability can make it extremely difficult to move forward. You could put yourself out there, try to connect again, only to end up disappointed, hurt, frustrated, etc. On the other hand, you can’t heal your relationship if you don’t give your partner a chance to change old patterns. Building trust comes from listening, reckoning with your own history, and taking responsibility for your own past.

Relationship dynamics take time to change. When working through current problems, our pasts will come up at unexpected times. We can’t help it. This is part of being a human in a relationship. In other words, you don’t have to forget the past to give it up.

Giving up the past simply means temporarily giving up your agenda. Doing so promotes communication, which is needed to rebuild connection. Don’t worry, your partner will have to do it too. So it’s not a one-way street, but if you don’t give up your agenda enough to hear your partner, your partner isn’t likely to hear you in return. On the other hand, if you practice moving forward, the space becomes safer for you to both communicate your life stories.

Anxiety, frustration, resentment, and fear. All of these feelings and emotions can come out of our pasts. The unfortunate truth is that these feelings are often reflections of other stories. Many of these stories are much older than our relationships with our partners, but our partners reflect current versions of old wounds.

This doesn’t make the feelings any less real. When you have a reaction to your partner, the reaction is based in something that is a serious experience for you. There are no guarantees that your partner will hear you out, but you increase your odds when you reopen these doorways. You offer new opportunities to and possibilities in creating understanding, and creating connection.

These four steps make it emotionally easier for couples who are struggling to connect through hurt and struggle.

  1. Step back.  Hurt feelings make us move faster. They amplify quickly. Therefore, when they happen, it’s important to take a step back. This gives you some time to regroup to what your main goal is hear. Otherwise, you can quickly end up in a place of paybacks, where you could’ve reconnected instead.
  2. Breathe. Breathing helps you to re-center yourself. Physiologically and mentally, the simplest of tasks makes you take a second to help your body re-organize.
  3. Re-enter. Re-entering into the conversation requires centering yourself. It’s critical to remind yourself what your primary goal is. You’re trying to connect with your partner. This requires a great deal of generosity on your part.
  4. Listen.  Listening is a gift that you give to someone else. There is nothing braver that hearing someone’s story, without judgment. When you offer this, you’re building trust. Your partner will feel more like sharing life stories with you.

We all come with our own stories and baggage. We don’t drop our bags at the door just because we get into a relationship. When you’re face-to-face with a relationship problem, remember the significance of your stories. Learn more about how they’re impacting your reactions. Take responsibility for this. With time, you’ll be shocked at how much you’re able to connect, where you thought there were only roadblocks.


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