To watch the full conversation as Bryan and I dive into these 3 essential communication lessons we had to learn the hard way, click here.
When Bryan and I first started dating 3 years ago, we were in very similar places.
We were both entrepreneurs, foodies, and fitness junkies.
We both had a history of dating narcissists and were looking for a healthy relationship.
And we both loved taking random Tuesday afternoons off to walk the Katy trail, catch a movie, or find a place to practice some acroyoga.
For a long time, everything seemed to be working out beautifully.
But then something happened, I changed the status quo.
Suddenly I wasn't the 24 year old kid, happy with training just enough clients to cover my bills anymore.
My desire for a bigger life with more success, more growth, more impact was planted, and I was quickly transforming from the girl I was into the woman I was going to be.
I didn't have time for random weekday afternoon excursions anymore, I was too busy diving head first into the growth of my career.
Acroyoga classes were falling by the wayside.
And even our foodie adventures were being interrupted by my determination to heal my autoimmune disease through holistic practices.
The distance that was growing between us as we tried to act like everything was fine, as we tried to pretend everything wasn't changing, finally reached a breaking point.
And I left.
Now I could write you a novel about the 2 years that followed, and how even after getting back together once, I went through another transition period of needing to be out in the world on my own for a while.
Suffice it to say, we continued circling back around to each other, learning and growing with each break up and each reunion. And now we're here, still growing and learning together, but a little wiser, and a lot happier for the challenges we've walked through.
Which is why we decided to pair up for this Life Unleashed episode, to bring you the 3 communication tips we learned were essential to our growth and the healthy rekindling of our relationship.
If you are on a path of personal growth, learning, or improvement, you undoubtably are starting to learn a different language that is affecting the way you see and interact with the world.
It is your job to teach that new language to your S.O. They aren't just going to magically pick it up.
For me, it was getting Bryan to listen to some of the books I was reading like "You Are a Bad Ass" and "High Performance Habits".
Those authors helped show Bryan exactly where my head was. So when I said things like, "I need you to be more positive," he was finally able to understand I didn't just mean to smile more. It meant having a more abundance-based mindset instead of a scarcity-based one.
The other piece here is, if you're asking for what you want but still aren't getting it. You may need to try different words. Be more straight forward. Stop trying to just "drop hints" passively like I did for a long time.
Get up the courage to sit down with your person, look them in the eye, and tell them exactly what you need. If you're expecting them to be a mind-reader, you will always end up disappointed.
A huge part of what we had to get through was letting our walls down with each other. I had come from numerous long term relationships where it was not ok for me to ask for even small things. And if, God forbid, I asked for something more than once, I was labeled as a nag, annoying, and overbearing.
So you can understand my deep insecurities about asking for anything in my relationship.
As for Bryan, he had to get comfortable getting off his white horse.
He had to learn that it was ok to tell me when he was not ok. He had to learn to ask when he needed help.
And I had to let him. I had to create a safe space for him to show me the wounds that were under the armor.
We both had to learn to have the hard, uncomfortable conversations that we used to avoid.
And you know what? When you're in a healthy relationship with a healthy person, those conversations don't have to be of the big blow-out fight variety.
You can both sit, and listen, and respond because you aren't fighting each other, you are fighting together for the relationship.
And here's the thing, if you decide to "protect yourself" by keeping all those walls up and trying to stay bullet-proof, chances are good you're going to create the very scenario that you're so terrified of.
Avoidance is not strength and it does not protect you. That's just you staying off the battlefield.
True strength is stepping onto the battlefield, with all the possibilities of getting hurt, and swinging that sword anyways.
When 2 people-pleasers come together, it can be a recipe for inauthenticity. You both are on such good behavior for each other, that neither of you are letting yourself relax and show the beautiful mess that is you.
This was the first half of Bryan's and my relationship.
And we both had to learn in our communication to stop tip-toeing around the issue. To stop pretending the problems weren't there. To stop saying, "it's fine" when it wasn't (I know you know what I'm talking about).
We had to let go of being perfect and believe that the other person would still love us and be there for us even if we had the audacity to get angry, to get upset, to ask for change, or to mess up.
I'll be totally honest, as I was going through my massive internal transition, I found myself hashing out the growing distance between Bryan and I... not with Bryan.
I would ask friends for advice, and complain about what he was or wasn't doing that bothered me, while staying tight lipped during our conversations.
Like I've said, I know how scary it can be opening up to your significant other, especially about what isn't working. But you've got to do it. You've got to let them speak for themselves, you've got to stop assuming, and you've got to start giving them credit for being able to handle the tough talks.
Now believe me, while I can put these tips down in a semi-concise blog, the practice is usually not so simple.
These are things we still work on on a regular basis. There is no finish line. There is no "arriving." There is only growing, and learning, and evolving and making the effort to grow together instead of apart.
1. Journal about what you want in your relationship, because if you aren't clear about it, you can't be clear about it with your partner.
2. Have the hard conversation. If this blog had you thinking of something again and again that you haven't communicated with your partner about, the time is now. Sit down with them, be kind, but be clear about what you need.
3. Find an activity to try together, preferably something that makes you both a little nervous. When you get physically vulnerable together, it makes it easier to get mentally and verbally vulnerable with each other.
My final note, if tip #3 (stop behaving) resonated with you because you are a fellow people-pleaser, and you also struggle with showing your authentic self, and verbalizing what you want, you might consider downloading this free People-Pleaser Detox.
You'll get clarity on your wants and needs, and you'll begin to build the confidence and courage to go after them without the fear of losing the ones you love.