The other day 8 people asked me questions about getting their relationship back into top form.  Here are the questions I answered.

1. How do you create relationship ecstasy when you have four kids under six years old?

2. We have totally different parenting styles and it gets in the way of the love in the relationship, what do we do?

3. My husband was cheating, how can I get the love back?

4. We are almost divorced, I need some direction.

5. I’m a widow, how do I get my joy to return with my new girl friend?

6. I make my husband wrong and I can’t stop, how do I shift it?

7. Is coaching better then marriage counseling?

8. What do you do when there is a breakdown in your relationship?

Check out my answers at www.matthewferry.com/relationshipecstasy/index.htm

They are about half way down the page.

So what is the source of suffering in relationship?

The Drunk Monkey!

The Drunk Monkey is my nickname for your mind.  You know that little voice in your head that won’t shut up?  You know that thing that is constantly talking, presenting you with images, sounds and commentary?

You know what I’m talking about, right?

The voice in your head.  Let me make it totally obvious that you have a voice in your head… Listen to what happens when I tell you this…

“There are no jerks in the world, there are only jerks when you show up.  Being a jerk is a reaction to who you are.  There are no actual jerks in the world.”

Did you hear all that stuff in your head?

That is your drunk monkey!

You and your partner are not in this relationship alone.  There are four people in your relationship.

1.    You
2.    Your Drunk Monkey
3.    Your Partner
4.    Your Partner’s Drunk Monkey

Have you noticed that your Drunk Monkey doesn’t like a lot of what your partner does?

I hate to break the news but your partner’s Drunk Monkey doesn’t like a lot of what you do either!

Why?

Because the mind, the talking in your head, The Drunk Monkey is not designed for love, connection, joy, happiness, ecstasy!!

Your Drunk Monkey has one job and one job only… To keep you alive

Until you become conscious, you can not transform automatic thinking patterns that are destructive to your relationship.

My intention is that these writings help you bring more harmony back into your relationship.

My father use to say these four things all the time.  It took me a lot of maturing to understand them.  I believe these four ways of operating in the world will be of great value in your relationship.  Here they are in order and then I’ll give you my two cents on each.  Show up, pay attention, tell the truth and don’t be attached to the outcome.

1.  Show up:  TV, work, kids, blackberry, email, web surfing… the list of things you can distract yourself with are endless.  If you are committed to making your relationship work, then you must stop what you are doing to avoid the relationship and sit down in front of each other and communicate.  Remember communication?  That’s the thing you did when you were madly, deeply in love with each other.

2.  Pay attention:  Your partner is sending you signals.  They are telling you what they like and dislike.  When you first started being together you were hyper sensitive to these signals and adjusted your behavior accordingly.  Now that you have been together for a while, your Drunk Monkey begins to sabotage the relationship.  Today, pay attention to what signals your partner is sending you.  They are probably sending you signals that say “Why don’t you like me any more?”.  Consider even though you like them, doesn’t mean they get that.  Your current behavior may be sending mixed signals.

3.  Tell the truth:  Brutal!  The Drunk Monkey loves lying and holding back the truth.  Psychological warfare is the name of the game in long term relationships.  The Drunk Monkey tells you to lie about how you are feeling “I’m fine!”.  This is a form of self defense.  WHAT THE F*** ARE YOU THINKING!  Your partner isn’t even attacking you.  PLEASE READ SOME OF MY EARLIER POSTS.  Ok enough ranting. :-)  The more intimate, bold and loving thing you can do is say how you really feel even if you know your partner will not like it.  To bad if they don’t like it.   The truth will set you free but first it pisses you off.

4.  Don’t be attached to the outcome:  Consider your fear of being abandoned is causing your partner to distance themselves form you.  Consider your fear of having your feelings hurt is causing your partner to be abusive.  Consider your desire to not rock the boat is causing your partner to make waves.  Don’t be attached to the outcome of your communications with your partner.  It’s going to take a while to get back to intimate, authentic and close.  At first you are going to say stuff and they will react which will cause you to react.  Notice your reaction and then let it go.  Keep being unattached to how the conversations are going.

I’ve got a client who is the president of a major company.  He coaches with me and his wife coaches with Roya (another coach on staff here at MFI).  He and his wife have been on the verge of divorce for a few months.  Roya and I have been working with them on these four steps and the many others I have illustrated in previous posts.

He shows up, pays attention, tells the truth and she still reacts in a way that pisses him off.  In other words, he’s still attached to the outcome.  He expects that suddenly because he is making an effort she is going to magically let go of all the sh*t she’s been holding him hostage with.  So he quits and goes straight back to defensive mode which plummets the relationship back into suffering.

He must maintain a state of detachment.  Like a scientist would regarding an experiment.  He must admit he no longer understands how to communicate with her.  Therefore he must keep trying different things until he discovers the process she now prefers.  Being unattached gives you major power because it makes you flexible.  Flexibility gives you options and options give you power.

In the life coaching process I am constantly confronted with my client’s relationships not working.  I say it over and over, “Your partner isn’t anything until you show up! If you change your approach, they will change in a blink of an eye.”

I just spoke with a client who is on the verge of divorce.  He is blaming her!  “She’s this!  She’s that!  I can’t deal with it!” he says over and over to me.

“That’s total bull sh**!” I say to him. “You put her with a group of people who accept her behavior and agree with her perspective, she will be loving, affectionate and kind… It’s all you dude!”

Here’s the bottom line.  His Drunk Monkey (his mind) has declared him the all seeing, all knowing ruler of the universe.  Clearly he knows best.  Obviously everyone should change their behavior to meet his expectations.  My client has declared himself the Lord of the Universe and his declaration is killing off his relationship.

He is unconscious of his righteous position.  He doesn’t “think” she is wrong.  He “knows” she is wrong.  He has mistaken his beliefs for natural law.  Very common.  All wars are based on this eronious notion that what you think is right and valid.  What you think is just what you prefer.  What you prefer is what you were trained (like a dog) to believe was right by the group that raised you.

***Step One To Creating Relationship Ecstasy***

Recognize that you are unconscious.  Notice how you are your Drunk Monkey’s puppet.  You are reacting.  Your spouse/partner (what ever you want to call it) is behaving in ways that contradict your opinion.  Your opinion is the source of suffering, not your partners behavior.  They are just doing what they are doing and you are reacting.  Which, by the way, causes them to react back.  Which you then use as validation that you are right!  “See!  She’s doing it again!” you say.  But what is your Drunk Monkey really saying “I’m a powerless little victim and if I bitch, moan and cry then people will pay attention to me and validate my significant existence.”

The moment you become conscious, you can choose your reaction and the relationship will instantly get better.  Your partner will not have done a thing.  It’s all you.

Ecstasy. Intense joy or delight.  Wow, when was the last time you felt that in your relationship?  Here is something that helps me maintain intense joy and delight with my wife Claudine.

First, I always keep tabs on my mind. I call it The Drunk Monkey.  My mind seems to be on the lookout for anything that might be dangerous about my wife.  Hello!  Do this seem strange to you?  The Drunk Monkey actually tries to protect me from my own wife.  When I get caught up in it’s crazy hallucinations, ecstasy is gone!

Second, I keep a list of all the things I appreciate about Claudine on my Blackberry.  Anytime I’m feeling a little grumpy, I just review the list. “Oh yeah!  I like my wife!! I forgot!”  Simple but profoundly effective.  OK, more later.

You know what to do, but how often do you do it? Consider you do, in your life, what you have structure for. If you want to have an amazing relationship, then you must create the structure to have it.  What is structure?  It is the promises you have made, either purposely or not on purpose.  It is the disciplines you have in place.  Structure is an agreement.  Structure is the set of expectations that people have of you.

What structures do you have for your relationship?  What expectations have you created?  What conversations are you forwarding by consistently bringing up?  What promises have you made and kept or broken?  What disciplines have you put into place to keep the peace in your relationship?  How often are you communicating about what is important?  Do you have rules about communicating?  Do you know your partner’s expectations about communicating?

My intention with today’s post was to get you thinking. If you would like more, sign up for an Inspired Action Coaching call. It might bring you some light.