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Better Together

by Carolyn Lebanowski

“A healthy relationship keeps the doors and windows wide open. Plenty of air is circulating and no one feels trapped. Relationships thrive in this environment. Keep your doors and windows open. If the person is meant to be in your life, all the open doors and windows in the world, will not make them leave. Trust the truth.”

— Unknown

Healthy relationships can be tricky, complicated and sometimes difficult to navigate. They require honest communication and heart filled determination. We know what we want in a partnership, sometimes we just don’t know how to nurture or sustain. We look inside ourselves for a roadmap and clear the way, try our best and see what happens. We go to school and get diplomas, degrees and certificates, but no one ever really teaches us how to be in a healthy relationship. All we really have is our role models, experience and paradigms. Sometimes those are good enough, and sometimes they set us up for disappointment.

I personally struggled with healthy relationships early in my life and I was convinced there had to be a better way. It was here where I was committed to owning my own experience by using my heart as a compass and my voice to ground my truth.

As my children began to form their first adult love relationships, I collected a few strategies that were the foundation of the love that I live in today. I wish someone had shared these concepts with me early on…

Connection is Key

Flexibility, patience and awareness can be a solid compass for connection. The ability to shift gears, slow down the motions and be vulnerable to yourself and each other will be a game changer. Connection nurtures and feeds a relationship – all relationships.

Navigate the Details

Focus on the important components that nurture both of you. Keep your eyes and heart open to the unfamiliar; you may find grace in the unveiling. Stay engaged in the moments that bring you closer and walk away from little things that really don’t matter in the end. If a sock is on the floor, pick it up if it bothers you… this should not be a game changer.

This Moment will Pass

It may feel dark, sideways, sharp or messy. It may feel joyful, exciting, relaxing or connected… and everything in between. Love yourself where you are in every moment. They each bring different gifts and perspectives and they are all necessary. And they all will pass….and return again.

Listen with Your Eyes Open

Listen with your ears and your heart open. Take a breath, move the monkey mind over and be present to the spoken word. It is easy to project, judge and create stories that are just not true. Be open to the possibility of a different narrative and always a positive outcome.

Give Up Your Stories

Whatever they are, don’t let them define you. They may be a part of your past, and they do not need to be a part of your present or your future. You have the ability and power to create the life you want. No one can make that for you… or take it away.

Question Your Questions

When things come up go deeper. Sometimes there are layers of anxiety or discomfort that show up when least expected. You can blame it on a moment, but it may be a feeling buried. You won’t know unless you keep the internal conversation alive and real.

Honor Your Similarities and Your Differences

Listen, learn and appreciate what is not your norm without compromising what is true for you. You don’t always have to agree, but you don’t need to make the other person wrong. Expand your landscape of what might be possible. Listen and trust your truth.

Recognize that Both of You Will Change

This is healthy and normal; you are always growing. Give each other space to lean into the growing edges. Be aware and willing to allow the process to gently unfold. Most importantly be aware of each other, honor the shifts and always stay in the conversation. You want to grow together not apart.

All of these take practice… and heart filled determination.

In the book The Second Mountain, David Brooks states “A marriage is the sort of thing where it is safer to go all in, and it’s dangerous to go in half-hearted. At the far end, when done well, you see people enjoying the deepest steady joy you can find on this earth”. And today, I am humbled, grateful and blessed to be living in that place.
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Carolyn-Lebonowski-2020

Carolyn Lebanowski is an experienced and respected senior level executive with expertise in strategic development, organizational communication and executive coaching. She has 27 years of proven success with corporate organizations in organizational development and has spent the past 12 years as the Executive Director at Unity of Houston in Houston Texas, and is currently the COO of First Unity Spiritual Campus. As ILLLI’s Strategic Leadership Partner, Carolyn exhibits passion for life with a clear understanding of the relationship between the development of human potential and overall business success.

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