Over & over couples find themselves happy to be back in their relationships that were once thought lost. I ask, “What have you both decided will be different this time around?” Not once has anyone given me an answer. This oft-repeated experience is called premature reconciling.
Remember the movie Love Story from 1970 with Ali MacGraw & Ryan O’Neal? The American Film Institute has ranked it the #9 romantic movie of all time. Romantic without a shred of reality would be my take. This movie is famous for my least favorite quote about love: “Love means never saying having to say your sorry” Makes me want to vomit!!
Love means asking yourself; “What do I need to do differently to have greater integrity in making things work?
Love means, that if you want to grow as a couple you have to be honest & address the problems that inspired the breakup. Specifically to be clear about what happened & how are you both going to be different? Do you want temporary comfort or solutions? The return to kissing & cuddling is as inviting as a beach vacation.
The deliciousness of being intertwined has to be balanced by recognizing & dealing honestly with the differences. Restoring a relationship without doing the work is simply delaying the inevitable second breakup.
Understanding your dark side is one of the unsung perks of every honest relationship. You can only learn more about yourself in relationship to others, not by staying within the confines of your own head.
Conflict is about growth. When two people sublimate conflict there are huge consequences. The partner who stifles their voice to get along, ends up resentful. Unspoken resentments kill off respect & relationships die.
If you are willing to make a real effort to solve problems, try this: Each of you write down your own concept of the 3 biggest issues. Then write 2 or 3 things you’re going to do to make things better. Then write down 1 or 2 requests you have for your partner. Then have at least 25 conversations over a couple of weeks, that are grounded in the specifics; no vague generalizations allowed. Digest what you learn from this, don’t swallow it whole.
(Even if you aren’t in reconciliation, don’t hesitate to ask your partner to tell you one thing that would make the relationship better at least 2 x’s a year.)
Premature reconciling is skipping over a whole lot of opportunity to build an authentic infrastructure that can last for decades. Honest conflict adds spice to the relationship. When two people need to reconcile, they need to figure out how to get both their needs met.
It’s sure a whole lot easier to skate through relationships skipping the “I’m sorry” & the work of problem solving. This also leads to a whole lot of apathy & boredom.