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Relationship or marriage crisis or breakdowns occur for many reasons. As family, career, or other interests take precedence, couples who may have once been happy stop putting each other first and listening to each other. Sometimes an affair is the catalyst that brings the relationship to the crisis point, however in this case, or for other reasons, there are usually deeper issues that create the breakdown. Loss of unity of purpose distances couples.
If communication wanes, then the ever-important hashing out of hurts and expectations disappears. Without communication, respect cannot be maintained. For some, one person in the partnership has been ignored for years continuously feeling dejected and has had enough, for other couples one has given up trying to appease their pushy and aggressive partner realizing they don’t have a voice in the relationship.
For others, the couple hasn’t nurtured the relationship enough, and sometimes they never cultivated joy and light-heartedness. It may be that one of them has simply gotten overwhelmed and exhausted in life; this often happens because as a couple, they didn’t address or manage their life properly. Breakdowns are also sometimes fueled by the shoulds in our minds, can be influenced by our extended families, social circles, or communities, as well as by our jobs or careers.
There are as many ways to make relationships work as there are relationships, as there are many reasons relationship breakdown. There are many commonalities to happy relationships where both parties are contented and fulfilled, and there are many commonalities to relationships where there is conflict, or where one or both parties are unhappy.
None of us are perfect, and no relationship is without disagreements and conflict. It is how we treat the other person, react to their personality, strengths, weaknesses, and ways of navigating life, and how we cope with the differences between us and the conflicts that arise that will impact the success, happiness, and longevity of our intimate relationship. We all hold unconscious influences that impact how we deal with others, so to keep our relationship healthy we must be conscious of how our partner internalizes our attitudes, actions, and reactions, as well as how we internalize theirs. There are many ways we can deal with our different personalities and the sensitivities we all have that could create conflict; and there are many ways we can give the relationship a boost to help create a loving, and harmonious home.
We Must Show our Partner that He or She Matters. One of the best ways to show the other they matter to us is to make them feel they are our best friend. To show this, we must communicate with them often, in many ways, and on different levels. A touch, a kind or supporting word, or even sharing the good and bad aspects of our day brings us closer. We must show them they can trust us with their fears, vulnerabilities, and dreams, and we must trust them with ours. We must also carve our “special” time for romance – whatever that means to us. We must let the other know that what he or she feels and has to say matters to us, and that their input into the various aspects of our life together is important. No matter what has happened in our day, we want our partner to feel seen and heard. We also want them to be happy to see us.
We Must Really Listen to Our Partner: It is important to really listen to the words our partner speaks – and to the intention behind the words. And even though we may try to listen attentively, sometimes we still do not really hear what the other are saying. We may also only half listen or become impatient, or tune out if our partner becomes overly emotional, critical, or aggressive. We may also be in denial of a situation that must be addressed, or refuse to hear what the other is saying as doing so would required us making changes we are not prepared to make.
We Must Ensure We Are Heard: Sometimes we are not heard, cannot get our point across, or our partner refuses to listen. We may have differing communication styles and he or she becomes impatient, or they may be loud, controlling, or aggressive and always want their way and are used to bullying us into giving in. This causes us to become frustrated and feel disempowered, and our feelings get buried. When our partner cannot or will not hear us, sometimes we simply have to be strong and state our bottom-lines. However, when doing so we have to say what we want to say calmly and without big emotions. Nonetheless, us finally standing our ground may shock our partner and a disagreement may ensue. When this happens, we need to disengage from the argument. However uncomfortable, facing the issue of not being heard can save the relationship. Not expressing our feelings or preferences, or never giving our point of view will eventually cause a rupture in the relationship, one way or another, and if we wait too long it may not be salvageable. Separations and divorce are way more disruptive and uncomfortable than facing our issues – and we go through it alone. Most of us deep down want our relationships to work, and our partner may surprise us once we get going on healing it. And not only do we end up working through it together, the relationship usually ends up way stronger and more satisfying than it ever was.
Building Trust and Creating Communication With Our Partners: We built trust and create good communication with our partners with how we behave every day: by with attitudes, actions, or inaction; by being open, honest, speaking from the heart, and listening with open hearts to our partners; by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, forgiving the other, and accepting forgiveness from him or her; and by saying what we mean, meaning what we say, and keeping the promises we have made. The combination of trust and good communication opens the door for us to feel safe within the partnership.
Creating a Safe Haven: Creating a safe haven for each in the partnership to express their fears, disappointments, and vulnerabilities, voice their frustrations, and to share their dreams – without fear of being ridiculed or shamed, goes a long way in creating and maintaining a healthy relationship. Sharing our concerns with our partner is vital, as when our sensitive issues are not voiced or understood by the other, an emotional barrier between us is created. Once a barrier is created it perpetuates itself and the cavern between the two people widens. Unexpressed emotions, fears, vulnerabilities, and unmet frustrations will find their way into other unrelated aspects of daily life, creating more conflict and confusion. A vicious cycle ensues, and unless one or the other addresses the emotional gap, a crisis eventually occurs.
We Must Focus on the Positive Aspects of the Other and the Relationship: Staying focused on the positive aspects of our partner and the relationship is vital to creating and maintaining a healthy relationship. Focusing on the negative aspects of our partner and the life we have created drives us into a downward spiral of negativity. Focusing on the positive aspects invites our relationship to spiral in an upward, uplifting direction. However, remaining positive and focusing on the what is good does not come naturally to many of us. We may have to make an effort at first, but we will soon see the benefits. We may have to dig deep to focus on the positive, and consciously create an atmosphere for the relationship to flourish.
We Must Cultivate Joy and Keep it Light: Fostering joy and allow for light-heartedness in our intimate relationships can waylay conflicts. It is so easy to fall into the trap of allowing the responsibilities of adulthood and family life to sap our joy and keep things serious and heavy. Not only does this bring us down individually, it takes the air out of the relationship. Make time to do things together that bring you both joy, and encourage the other to do the things that brings him or her joy. Plan light-hearted activities either alone, or with family or friends who know how to keep it light and don’t focus on drama. When we have tasted how tuning into joy and keeping things light can make us feel, it encourages us to let things go that we might otherwise take issue with that would create conflict in the relationship.
We Must Keep Healthy Boundaries within the Relationship. To do so we must ensure we are not being overly needy bringing deep emotional hurts from our past into the present; are not falling into passivity giving up making our point or ensuring the other hears us; or become unnecessarily impatient or aggressive not making time to listen to and really hear or understand what the other is feeling or their point of view.
Disagreements and minor conflicts will present themselves in all intimate relationships. However, we must always remember that our partner is doing his or her best, but is likely working within the confines of at least some unconscious influences. We all are. And if there is always conflict and one or the other in the relationship is unhappy, address the situation – either together, or individually if necessary. If our unconscious influences are getting in the way of having a happy and satisfying relationship, address them. When we cannot surmount them alone, we must get help. It is better to deal with what is causing the conflict and/or unhappiness than having to deal with a major relationship breakdown – or even a break-up or divorce. However, even when there is a major breakdown, there is still much we can do to save it.
In Love without Hurt Dr.Steven Stosny tells us that when a relationship has suffered “chronic resentment, anger or abuse, reestablishing a connection is not a fifty-fifty proposition.” (1) He explains that in the beginning, it may be as much as a “ninety-ten proposition” with the perpetrator doing most of the work. This is because it is easier for the one who was the aggressor to heal than the one who was subjected to aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Listed below is Dr. Stosny’s advice for maintaining a healthy relationship and steps to healing a broken one if a crisis occurs. (2)
1) Building Deep Connections: A deep connection to our partner makes both parties and the relationship stronger. We create these connections by how we show the other our love by shared values and a conviction in something larger than ourselves, be it a belief system, a humanitarian concern, or even a sociopolitical viewpoint. We can even choose to feel connected if the other does not, as when we make this mental shift our attitudes and behaviors change to reflect it, and this can elicit change in the other.
2) Lifelines: Couples must create emotional lifelines with each other and keep them open. This vital bond keeps us aligned to what is most important to the other and helps to keep the relationship healthy. He suggests that when we are apart we can regularly envision a “long, flexible lifeline,” like an invisible cord, that connects us and our partner. (3) This keeps us connected and can help the healing when we are annoyed with the other. And the more we imagine this lifeline, the stronger our connection so that no matter what our mood, what we are involved with, or where we are, we feel connected to the other.
3) The Power Love Formula: Dr. Stosny gives us four steps to “the power love formula:” small, everyday things we can do to keep our connection strong and open.
- a) Acknowledge that our partner is important to us at “four crucial times in the day.” 1) Upon Waking, 2) Leaving the House; 3) Coming Home; 4) Going to Sleep. This acknowledgment can be a loving phrase, a kiss, or even a gentle touch—anything that is done with loving intention and conveys our love to the other.
- b) Give “six hugs per day, holding each for six seconds.” Stosny explains that adopting this “six-by-six” formula of hugging and holding the other “in a full body embrace,” will override any physical distance couples may feel in their relationships. (5) As touching usually ceases at a certain point when one partner starts to feel unloved fueling a downward spiral, we have to rekindle the spark. He warns us though that we may have to fake it at first, as it will not feel natural to want to lovingly touch someone we are resentful of or angry with. Hugs not only help our relationship they increase serotonin levels and therefore our general feelings of emotional well-being, which can allow us to be more forgiving of and open to our partner.
- c) Contract to love our partner: When we have lost the loving feeling, Dr. Stosny suggests we write and sign a contract every day at the same time of the day with a list declaring “how I will show my love for you everyday.” (6) It should be formal, encompassing the present and the future, but not long or complicated. He suggests that we write it based on the idea that if I love him/her, I would …. We then write out the details of how we have decided to show our partners how we love them in both the present and future.
- d) Embrace the four Rs when we slip up: Breaking habits or letting go of resentments does not happen overnight. We will err and forget our promises and sometimes succumb to the habitual attitudes deep hurts encourage us to act upon. In Dr. Stosny’s program, he proposes that we embrace the four Rs when we succumb to old habits or fall prey to emotional outbursts.
The four R’s to use after we have slipped up in our relationship:
- Recover: Once we realize we have erred, we need to remind our self of our promises made and get our attitudes under control. If this happens only after the fact and we cannot talk to our partner, we can try to rebuild our connection by using our lifelines and send loving, positive thoughts to our partner.
- Repair: Make amends with our partner. If they reject our efforts, we need to try again and again, until they forgive us. The entire healing process takes time, so we must remain mindful that “the power lies in trying.” (7) Even though we might feel like retreating when our apologies are rejected, we must continue to try.
- Receive: We must be willing to receive the other’s attempts at repair, because at this point, it is not about who did what to whom. Stosny says that all attempts to repair are stepping-stones to a healthy relationship, and in that spirit, our “licence to pout and sulk is hereby suspended.” (8) He tells us to expect to be successful at rebuilding! Remembering that the ultimate goal is rebuilding the relationship will make accepting repair attempts easier.
- Reconnect: When feeling unloved or hurt, we always need to ask ourselves what a loving, invested partner would do. Even if our partner does not respond in the ways we want, we can uphold the spirit of our final goals: rebuilding connections, feeling love again, and creating a happy, healthy, and satisfying relationship.
Even though Dr. Stosny concurs with spiritual concepts that we are all ultimately responsible for our feelings and our happiness, he also puts forth that when one partner’s attitudes have not been loving or compassionate, the relationship itself has suffered. Being an entity in itself the relationship needs healing, hence the necessity for steps to repair it.
This article is an expansion of the sub- section “Marriage Crisis: Breakdowns, Breaking Points, and Healing” from the “Couples” section of chapter 5, Relationships.
© Rosemary McCarthy, (originally posted October 2016,
updated April 2017)
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Below is a peek into a bit more in the book:
The truth of who we are lies quietly in wait just below the surface of any false illusions we may have inadvertently constructed. (Introduction).
Whether positive or negative, our unconscious beliefs act upon us without our consent, or real knowledge of why. (Chapter 1, Why We Are the Way We Are)
We were not sent away by a vengeful God, but as we bough into the ego or Satan’s deception that we had broken our connection to our Source, we were filled with remorse, guilt, and fear. Fear of retribution and the projection of that fear with its ensuing shame and guilt into judgment of others, is the basis of the human predicament. (Chapter 1)
Powerful shifts will occur in us when we acknowledge the truth of who we are, while at the same time reconcile the truth of who we are being. (Chapter 2, Universal Laws / Kingdom Principles)
Our capacity to love others is in direct relationship to how much we love ourselves. (Chapter 3, What We Can Do About It)
Don’t wallow in what you have or haven’t done—don’t get stuck in the darkness. (Chapter 4, Along the Way)
How we choose to live life “in the meantime” will likely be the deciding factor to our happiness, because most of our life is spent in the meantime. (Chapter 4).
The need to fill a void within ourselves manifests itself in the demands we put on others or the incessant striving for material possessions and status. (Chapter 5, Relationships)
We yearn for intimacy, but the playing out of our unconscious influences drives us apart. Power struggles develop as we try to uphold our need for love and intimacy, while our Protective Mechanisms create boundaries around inner our world. (Chapter 5).
Many have confused God’s revenge with the karmic Law of Balance and that of Cause and Effect playing out in our lives. (Chapter 6, Words, Symbols, Rituals, Concepts, Prayers).
Free will is our inheritance. However, we are not exercising true free will if we live under the tutelage of unconscious influences. (Chapter 6).
The Masters were not under the laws of the physical world, nor are we when we partner up with them, Spirit, God, or our higher Self, or invoke any who have attained those higher states. (Chapter 6).
We can reconcile our apparent relationship with extra-terrestrials with our belief systems. (Chapter 7, Science).
The electromagnetic fields we create from our heart chakras are at least forty times stronger than those created from our brains. (Christiane Northrup) (Chapter 7) ,
Traumatic situations are held in our cellular memory until they are dealt with: they sit there like open doors for ailments. (Chapter 8, Health and Healing; Death and Dying).
Our need to reconcile what we put upon the Indigenous peoples is in direct relationship to our country’s successful advancements. (Chapter 9, The Planet and Abundance)
Our planet is a living, breathing organism … and just like us she has to cleanse herself of toxins – the physical and emotional abuses we have put upon her. (Chapter 9).
At levels beyond our awareness we chose to be here at this time of ‘The Shift’ to help bring about our and Gais’s Ascensions. (Chapter 10, Ascension).
Hope is the harbinger that will keep that vibration pointed to where a brighter world may flourish. It is hope that will anchor in Ascension. (Chapter 11, The Future).
The Importance of Embracing Unity Consciousness (Conclusion).
Copyright © 2016 by Rosemary McCarthy. All rights Reserved. You may only copy, share and distribute this article provided that the content is copied in its entirety, is unaltered, and is distributed freely and for no monetary or personal gain. and that this copyright notice and the link for the article and the website www.yourjourneytopeace.com are included. You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Blessings, and thank you kindly.
(1) Steven Stosny, Love without Hurt (Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press, 2008), 259.
(2) Ibid., 260-7.
(3) Ibid., 261
(4) Ibid., 262
(5) Ibid., 263
(6) Ibid., 265
(7) Ibid., 266