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Relationship Spring Cleaning by Susan Sheppard

By Susan Sheppard

History doesn’t belong in a relationship that is present

My friend, Jack Rafferty, the famous Man-Woman Coach, used to say "don’t clean the clean" referring of course to relationship. What he meant by that was once you have gotten angry, argued, and "effectively dealt with" something that happened that hurt your feelings, be done with it. Don’t keep bringing it up like dirty laundry. Once you have forgiven someone for something, it’s history. . The conflict, resistance to new concepts, stored resentment and revenge for old hurts, that happens in most relationships relates back to those three words "effectively dealt with", which unfortunately in most cases, isn’t what happens.

For most couples, the barometer for intimate relationships is sex. If your sex life is hot and exciting and fun, chances are you have a pretty clean relationship. When there is trouble in the bedroom, usually it’s an indication that there are a lot of cobwebs and dirt stuck in the corners of your intimate relationship and that you or your partner have shut down some avenues of communication.

What do I mean?

Let’s say your partner doesn’t show up for a date with you. You manage to get through the evening and get home to find him/her home, relaxing, having completely forgotten that he/she was to have met you somewhere. You get into a heated argument about his/her lack of consideration and a lot of I’m sorry’s are exchanged.

Was that effectively dealing with the situation? Hardly.

The resentment still exists on both sides. What do I mean both sides? Well, this is my theory. The person who didn’t show up was already carrying resentment and unconsciously, carried out revenge in a passive aggressive manner by missing the appointment. The person who got stood up never got satisfaction in the resolution and now carries his/her own resentment, which will surface again at another time. This couple does not have a clean relationship.

Payback goes on in every relationship at some time or another. It is comparable to the accumulation of junk in your house. Just as spring cleaning gets rid of dust bunnies under the bed and cobwebs behind the bookcases, periodic cleansing sessions in your relationships will restore freshness and vitality to your love. Few couples understand this or know what to do about it. Some religious organizations have retreats for married couples where they do some of the work I am about to suggest, however, the catastrophic divorce rate in our country indicates that very little of this kind of work is attempted or completed by married couples. Even highly enlightened, aware couples require some nudging to maintain the level of squeaky clean communication that I am referring to.

Here is a suggestion for a process that can be used to clean house.

Relationship Spring Cleaning.

 

  1. Reserve a weekend where the two of you can be alone and undisturbed for 48 hours.
  2. You can do this alone or engage a coach to guide you.

     

  3. Each of you have a notebook which will be yours to share or not.
  4. Take time to write extensive endings to the following statements:

     

    1. I am with you because......
    2. My feelings were hurt when ...
    3. I’m angry when ...
    4. I resist new ideas from you when....
    5. I resent you when...
    6. I want to take revenge on you when...
    7. I hate you when.....
    8. You always......
    9. You never......
    10. I don’t want to forgive you when.....
    11. I want to believe......
    12. I love you because

     

  5. You get the idea. You can add statements that are specific for you as long as they are not accusations and they express your feelings about the situation and your relationship. The goal is to get to the tiniest resentments and hurts that you have stored up for however long you two have been together.

     

  6. Obviously if you have been married for a long time and have never done anything like this, it might be difficult to get every little thing the first time through and you may have to repeat this more than once or get someone to guide you through the process.

     

  7. Once you have completed your writing , you are going to share the contents of your writing with your partner.

     

  8. The rules for sharing are as follows:

     

    1. Only one of you may speak at a time.
    2. The person sharing cannot elaborate.
    3. The person listening cannot comment except to say thank you.
    4. Once you have shared all of this information, release it and completely let go of your feelings about all of it.

     

  9. The outcome which is desired by completing this process is cleansing and release.
  10. The next part of the process involves revitalizing and restoring your passion.
  11. Take time to write extensive endings to the following statements:

     

    1. I forgive you completely for .....
    2. I appreciate your...
    3. I thank you for .....
    4. I want you to....
    5. You turn me on when.....
    6. I get excited about....
    7. I acknowledge your....
    8. I am proud of you because....
    9. I cherish you for....
    10. I love you because....
    11. I want to be with you because...

     

  12. Repeat steps 5,6,7,and 8
  13. The outcome which is desired by this process is attraction and revitalization of your love.

Note: When you are done with this exercise, if you don’t feel like you just met and fell in love, you are not done and you would benefit from more of the same.

Once you have completed your serious spring cleaning, it is then important to maintain this level of communication. You can accomplish this by daily, weekly or whenever necessary withhold sessions, shorter but similar to the above. If you know that your partner loves and respects you and considers your relationship a sacred trust, you can willingly sustain such vulnerability. As you practice this level of trust with each other, it becomes easier to notice when something occurs that violates your bond. The best practice is to "effectively deal with" issues as they happen.

Sound idealistic? I don’t think so. Once you get in the habit of having clean relationships with everyone, you won’t be able to tolerate hidden agendas, suppressed feelings or anything generating resistance, resentment or revenge. You won’t let missed appointments or oversights or hurt feelings dirty up your association with anyone.

Accountability is the essence of communication. Be 100% responsible for your own communication and 100% responsible for receiving other’s communication. That way, if everyone takes more than their share of the accountability, our world will be free of misunderstandings. Now perhaps that is somewhat idealistic, but imagine how great it would be to live in a world where the inhabitants honored that principle..

"I help people who want sacred intimacy in a hot relationship, get what they want from each other so that they can experience more fun, more sex and less bickering!"


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