We celebrated my love — Steve’s — birthday this week! I thought it would be fun to change it up a little on the blog, and share some insights on relationships. Our relationship is by no means perfect, but it is absolutely filled with open communication, authentic truth, fun, and growth.
I truly believe that the quality of our lives does depend hugely on the quality of the relationships in our lives! Often, the topic of relationships will arise as part of a coaching session with clients too!
And to start this week’s conversation on relationships, I must start with “The Chocolate Cake Incident” which happened in our home just last week! It’s a good one, and I hope you find many gems in this true story! :)
Last weekend, Steve was going away with his friends for a fishing weekend. It was a 4 hour drive from Sydney, so I let him know that I would bake a delicious chocolate hazelnut cake for him to have on the road (dairy free, gluten free — of course).
I was so proud of my cake (keeper/wife material, right? ;) and when I presented him the cake and asked him if he’d like it on a plate or Tupperware, he said ‘Oh, I’m not taking it. I’ll just have a slice now.’ *proceeds to take a slice and munch away*
I felt so triggered.
All the emotions.
Hello? I made this cake for you to take away and have with your friends!
In that moment, I had a choice. And in the past (pre- working on my personal development muscle), this is what I would have done…
Me: ‘Fine! Sure! OK!!!’ (Except it was not fine, and I was surely not OK!)
Then, I would go into compensation.
Me: ‘In that case, Stephen, before you go can you help me clean the dishes and load the dishwasher!’ (In my mind, he was also going to do the laundry, change the sheets etc.)
Except, even after he did what I asked — I would still feel no better, because it wasn’t the source of the issue.
Then, I would stonewall him.
Him: ‘What’s wrong?’
Me: ‘Nothing. I’m fine.’ (Not true.)
Him: ‘OK. But you’re acting not fine.’
He would then leave for the fishing trip (without cake), puzzled. And when he came back I would have had the whole weekend to create a plan of more things to be upset of (ammunition)!
Does any of this sound familiar, in any way?
Can you see how potentially destructive this could be in ANY kind of relationship?
Here’s what actually happened:
Me: ‘Honey, I feel disappointed.’
Me: ‘When I made this cake I thought you would have it in the car as a snack, and my intention was you would feel taken care of. That’s fine though — I just wanted to share what was coming up for me in case you noticed I looked sad for a little while.’
Not from a place of guilt/obligation.
Simply, sharing from a place of ‘This is what is coming up for me. This is my truth.’
Then… Steve spoke up.
Him: ‘Can you pack a few slices for me?’
Me: ‘Huh? OK, sure! But you don’t have to. That wasn’t why I shared how I’m feeling.’
Him: ‘I want to.’
Me: ‘OK. Uhh, did you want some sliced apples on the side too?’
Him: ‘Yes please!’
(Energy diffused. And guess what? Steve and his friend actually ate all the cake and apples before they even arrived at their destination! Icing!)
+ In moments like these: we have 2 choices, to harden and put shields up (sometimes, we might even prepare ammunition!) — or to soften and share vulnerably. When we choose to soften and speak our truth with love, and step back — we stay open and we act with love. As a result, the relationship deepens and communication flows even more.
+ Let go of the idea of not making a big deal out of things (when it is a big deal for you). We want to be ‘cool’, at the same time we might be afraid of being seen as dramatic, so we say ‘Oh sure, it’s fine!’ (when it’s not). It’s just a cake — don’t be a diva! Except, it’s often not just a cake. It’s about something deeper, it’s about wanting to take care of someone and feeling sad that you didn’t get to (or something else). And that isn’t just a cake.
By sharing your Truth, we can diffuse these things immediately, that could potentially cause a block in the relationship! As a bonus, the more I’ve done this, the more I’ve seen the masculine embrace his feminine too. What a beautiful thing — when we do what is right for us, everyone benefits!
+ Build your self worth. I once heard a relationship coach say ‘You make yourself keeper material (or not)’. This also applies to career (e.g. promotion material), business, friendships etc.! When I first started to focus on calling in a relationship, I journaled what keeper material meant to me. And it includes: Being able to communicate vulnerably our truth with each other, in a calm and powerful way (at the same time, being able to listen openly too, without feeling triggered by the other).
When you’re clear on what the most authentic expression of you in a relationship looks like, you can confidently communicate the same way, knowing that this is growing and deepening your relationship!
+ Know what you value — and stand for it. One of the things I value in relationships is GROWTH — and part of growing together is being able to hold open, vulnerable, authentic conversations with each other. If that is something you value, then give yourself permission to be someone who HAS these conversations. And if it isn’t high on your value list, then that is totally fine too!
+ Perfection isn’t the goal. Remember, it’s not about having the perfect heart-opening conversation. It’s not about creating the conversation that a therapist would have done. Sometimes, because we are so afraid that we aren’t able to hold the perfect conversation, we choose NOT to have the conversation at all — so if you needed the reminder, here it is. It’s about getting started, it’s about opening up a conversation, it’s about sharing imperfectly. <3
Let us all honour our truths, and have the courage to hold heart-opening conversations in our relationships (including the one we have with ourselves).
The Chocolate Cake Incident was such a small issue (the whole event took only 5 minutes), but when I reflected back on it I realised there were so many lessons that we can learn from it.
And after reflecting on it, I texted my love and said, ‘I’m so glad you’re my parter in Life. I love you.’
Jia Ni x
PS: Are you looking for support in living your most authentic expression in your life and business? Click here to find out more about how coaching could support you, and how we could work together to help you reach your authentic goals.