Before you can understand hope in your relationship, we have to ask. What does hope mean to you?
The dictionary definition of hope is: “A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen. A feeling of trust.”
The topic of hope is surfacing a lot at the moment. We’re slowly leaving the pandemic behind, hoping that things can, one day soon, go back to normal. Many of us are ready (and have been for a long time) to get on with our lives, hoping that we can soon do the things we love again like the theatre, cinema, concerts… just clawing back a sense of freedom in whatever form that takes.
This abundant energy that hope is generating for us can also be applied to our relationships. But did you know hope is often what keeps us stuck?
What exactly does this mean?
In relationships, there are two main ways that hope plays out.
“If not now, then when?”
The first is that when you focus your relationship on the future, not much is particularly grounded. For example, if we are always asking, “When will we move house?”, “When will we have children?” or “When will our children leave home so we can have the holiday of a lifetime?” it means we’re not focusing on the now.
Many of us are guilty of this. Instead of our relationship being in the here and now and being grounded in what’s important, we yearn for what’s ahead. Could this be down to your partner being emotionally unavailable? You can’t live in the moment but long for what’s ahead, hoping it will get better.
“You need to change”
The second way hope plays out in our relationship is when we want our partner to change. This transpires when there’s an unequal dynamic and a lack of clear communication. An example of this could be that you come home from work after a hectic day and hope that your partner has made dinner for you. Yes, you’ve asked them to put dinner on if their home first, put a washing on or load the dishwasher, but you haven’t actually sat down and talked about it, instead hoping that they hear you.
But what exactly makes you sure your partner can do the things you want them to do? Do you think they’re capable of change? Loading the washing machine and making dinner for your return home is one thing, but is your other half emotionally available?
That’s a whole other ball game. Being emotionally vacant can be hugely damaging, and it can, in fact, cause you to lose hope.
So, what do you want from your relationship? What do you hope for?
You’ve likely been having the same conversations, explaining how you feel over and over again, and somehow, they just don’t register. So, what you’re left with is the hope that at some point in the future, they will hear you and translate the subtle hints.
But realistically, what makes you think that if you keep repeating yourself, things will magically change?
It likely won’t.
Stuck In a Cycle of Hope
However, hope in a relationship is not necessarily a bad thing. We all have goals and visions and a shared direction in which way we want our relationship to go. But when hope is getting in the way of seeing the reality or accepting how the relationship is in the here and now, this is when we can get stuck in a cycle of resentment, anger, irritation, and sometimes confusion.
So, what’s going on when we get stuck in this cycle? Well, this sense of hope and longing often comes from a young, childlike part of us. This can stem from an experience perhaps with our parents and hope that they will be different. An example of this could be coming home from school with your grades, hoping your parents are happy and supportive of your results instead of questioning why you didn’t get an A. There may be a longing that they’re not judging you or willing you to do better.
We Can Only Change Ourselves
With this in mind, we often go into our adult lives with a footprint from our childhood, carrying these past experiences into our adult relationships. This is the hope that we can make people different, but we can’t. The only person that we get to change in our lives is ourselves.
So here’s the thing, when you find yourself hoping and longing that something will change in your relationship, take a moment, pause, settle down and take a deep breath. Use this moment to connect to your feelings and understand what’s going on behind the hope. What is it you’re actually longing for?
Do you find yourself feeling angry and resentful because you’re repeating yourself, you’re not feeling seen, you’re not feeling heard, you’re feeling misunderstood? Maybe you wonder why this person is the way that they are; why they won’t change. You may even experience feelings of rejection, that if this person cared for you, they’d do what you ask.
Over To You
If you want a safe space to discuss the status of your current relationship, get in touch and book your first counselling appointment. I offer video sessions online via a secure platform. Coronavirus (COVID-19) doesn’t need to put your therapy sessions on pause.
Or call me today on 07535 864836.
Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. PASS IT ON
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© Sandra Harewood 2021
Soul Centred couples counsellor and coach Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore creative solutions to their difficulties and create a great relationship.