01 Nov Can These ‘Four Agreements’ Strengthen Your Relationship?
Have you heard of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz?
In his most famous book, ‘The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Wisdom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)’, Don Miguel Ruiz explains how we can achieve personal freedom from beliefs and agreements that we have made with ourselves and others that are creating limitation and unhappiness in our lives.
In order to overcome this, Don Miguel Ruiz offers four principles to practise, in order to create and sustain love and happiness in our lives.
When I first came across these principles, I automatically thought: “How can these be applied to our romantic relationships?”
Well, we must all take tender, loving care of ourselves and our romantic partner and by simply practising these four principles daily, they can soon become integrated into our very being, our relationships and it actual fact, every area of our lives.
However, it’s understandable that incorporating new life-changing habits into our lives and relationships can, at times, be challenging.
So let’s look at some practical tips on how to live ‘The Four Agreements’ in your relationship and handle some of these everyday challenges:
Agreement #1: Be Impeccable with Your Word
Pay attention to the way you speak to your partner. Your words are powerful and so is the manner in which those words are spoken. It is therefore important to only say what you mean to your partner.
How can you be impeccable without damaging your relationship or hurting your partner?
Use your words in the direction of truth and love. Even if your words are kind, is your tone a loving, gentle one?
What if you wish to voice concerns?
Open: You must start your conversation right. You do not want your partner to become defensive, argumentative or not ready to listen to you. For example, saying “I want a word with you!” is undoubtedly not the best way to start. Start with a friendlier greeting first or with something positive about them.
Concern: Be factual and non-accusing. “I have noticed” or “I am concerned” work well.
Or “We agreed that you would xxx and I am disappointed that you have not done xxx.”
Pause: This allows your partner time to respond and for them to keep their self-esteem. They may offer their own solution or explain their behaviour. The confrontation could therefore end here.
Specify: You now need to be specific with what you want to happen or for them to do.
Close: End on a positive note if you can.
Agreement #2: Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing your partner does is because of you. All people, including your partner live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. Even when a situation seems so personal, even if your partner insults you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What your partner may say or do is a projection of their own reality and will only affect you if you believe it. However, understandably, it can lead to conflict.
When it comes to relationships, it’s not a question of whether or not conflict and challenges will occur. They will, one way or another impact the relationship whether it is a big or small issue.
Conflict exists because you and your partner are ultimately different people and have different points of view. You will have differences in your personality and character. You are physically, mentally, emotionally and perhaps even socially different. You may hold different values and beliefs. All of these differences can cause conflict.
You have to learn how to manage your relationship despite the differences. Embracing these differences and finding value in them, rather than being judgmental about them and taking it personally is key to how you deal with conflict.
Agreement #3: Don’t Make Assumptions
We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything in our relationship. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.
As it goes with most relationships, when we become too familiar with someone, we soon can become careless and make less effort. The longer we are with a partner, the more trapped both become by the assumptions and unreasonable expectations both develop for what “should” happen.
Here are a few common examples of relationship expectations:
My partner should:
- Understand where I’m coming from when I talk
- Greet me excitedly every time we meet
- Understand why it’s important not to leave rubbish in my car
- Help out more daily with the domestic chores
The issue with expectations, particularly when held too highly or are unreasonable is what happens when your partner doesn’t meet one of these. You are likely to feel irritated, frustrated, angry and disappointed. You may even feel like they have not behaved like a good partner.
Expectations create the potential for hurt feelings, especially when your partner does not know about them or they are unreasonable. It’s easy to disappoint someone who has a lot of expectations.
How do you stop making assumptions and unreasonable expectations?
You have to control your over-thinking: What is she doing? What is he doing? What if this happens? What if that happens? All those assumptions — not just one assumption, a whole world of assumptions – aargh!!!
Have the courage to ask your partner questions and express what you really want. Communicate with your partner as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.
Become aware of your expectations and ask yourself:
What is reasonable to expect of my partner?
It is important not allow your expectations to define the quality of your relationship.
Agreement #4: Always Do Your Best
In your everyday moods, your best can change from one moment to another, from one hour to the next, from one day to another. Your best will also change over time. As you build the habit of using The Four Agreements, your best will become better than it used to be.
But what should you do when your partner asks you to do something that you don’t want to do or that you’re too tired to do? How do you do your best when you’re exhausted or just need time for yourself?
First, you have to be honest with yourself and see if you want to do whatever your partner is asking of you. If you don’t want to do it, and you have the opportunity of not doing it, you will need to use assertive behaviour with your partner, as avoiding dealing with the situation will only cause a bigger problem for you and then you’re not being impeccable.
How can you refuse assertively?
Once you have decided that you want to say “No”, it’s just a matter of finding the best way to do it.
- Repeat the same statement – ‘the broken record technique’. It is especially useful if your partner is being persistent, as it keeps you on track. Choose a statement and keep with it
- Express your feelings and then say “No” – “Look, I’m finding it difficult to say, but I’m sure you will understand that I have to say ‘No’.”
- Say “No” followed by an explanation – “No, I cannot go on city break next week – it’s too short notice. I need to know in advance so that I can make arrangements if you need me to take time off work”
- Say “No” and offer an alternative – “I can’t go on a city break next week, but I can see if I could get time off work the following week”
- Restate the request and then say “No” – “I realise how important it is for you to go on this city break, but I cannot go away at this time”
- Say “No” and keep silent. Avoid the necessity to tag and phrase your desire. You may find it uncomfortable at first, but it can be really effective.
You can also start with “I’d prefer not to” or “I’d rather not” statements.
Doing your best in your relationship does not mean being good enough for your partner. It involves creating situations where you and your partner both win.
What are your thoughts on how ‘The Four Agreements’ can be applied to your relationship?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below on whether:
- You are already living the principles?
- If so, have you found them simple or challenging to adopt?
- If this is the first time you have heard of the principles, what do you think about them?
- Could you adopt these principles into your life and relationship?
If you would like some more tips and strategies on how to keep the love growing and flowing in your relationship, simply click the ‘Download Now’ button below to get access to my FREE eBooks.
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If your communication skills of deep listening, questioning and showing empathy in your relationship is an area you’d like more support with, I’d love to show you how you can express your assertiveness fearlessly! All you have to do is CLICK HERE.
Teresha, The Confidence Restyler™ Xx
AugiefestaPosted at 04:16h, 30 July
I been with my boyfriend 3 years and we live together . But for about 3 months he pulling away . Calling me names ! Anything and everything I do is wrong in his eyes . He used to be my best friend . But it’s to the point we’re I don’t speak my mind so I don’t have to fight or be put down .
Teresha YoungPosted at 14:38h, 08 August
Hi Augiefesta. Thank you for taking the time to read this and for sharing your experience. I am sorry to hear you have been having a difficult time with your boyfriend. I note you have said it has gotten to the point where you don’t speak your mind. However, I feel it would be beneficial for you to gain an understanding / deeper understanding about why your boyfriend’s behaviour has changed towards you recently. There could be an underlying issue in some aspect of his life that is affecting his thoughts, feelings and emotions, thus impacting on his change in behaviour. It sounds like you have spoken to him about your concerns previously, but have now pulled back so you don’t have to fight or be put down. I can understand why that might feel like the safer option. However, by not speaking out, you’re holding back your truth and is likely to be making you feel worse and powerless. If you haven’t, I would strongly encourage you to give the ‘voice your concern’ technique I have detailed in ‘Agreement #1: Be Impeccable with Your Word’ part of this blog a go, as using this technique as a different approach might be effective. Also, check out my YouTube video on ‘How to HAVE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS’: https://youtu.be/eq1-Nm1TMMo, as this will also help you. I think it’s fair to say there will at times be challenges and conflict within our relationships. However, having happy, healthy relationships, where there is kindness, empathy and understanding is vital, so please do let me know how it goes and all the best with any conversation you decide to have with him. With Love, Teresha Xx
Carol BazzellPosted at 08:53h, 15 January
My husband read the book many times. I don t know if his brain is wiring differently. He interprets the printed words of the Four Agreements differently than me. Men from Mars, Women from Venus?? He likes to run the house. He prefers his selection of furniture, food, and bills. I on the other hand have to RESPECT his taste in the home? We are constantly struggling what food to put on the table, the dish rack on the old counter tiles (avoid mold) rather than over the sink. It is very silly. He chose to follow his mother’s suggestions. When I asked him why this is so, he denied. It s very tiring and sad. I prefer to get a divorce to have peace in my soul. Oh, I did, many times. He refused to leave. He said for better or worse. I don t know about it.
Teresha YoungPosted at 18:56h, 24 January
Hi Carol. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog! Your experience with your husband is not uncommon from that which some of my clients have also experienced. We all have our personal differences and perceptions and this can often lead to challenges and conflict within our relationships. Whilst, it seems you have spoken to him about matters, I would strongly encourage you to give the ‘voice your concern’ technique I have detailed in ‘Agreement #1: Be Impeccable with Your Word’ part of this blog a go, as a different approach might be effective. Also, check out my YouTube video on ‘How to HAVE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS’: https://youtu.be/eq1-Nm1TMMo, as this will also help you. It’s so important that we strive to have happy, healthy relationships, where there is empathy and understanding. If you feel there is no change in your partner’s actions, despite you expressing your thoughts and feelings, as difficult as it might be, it could be time to honestly reflect upon whether your relationship is best serving the happiness you truly deserve and is indeed right for you and for your partner. Please do let me know how it goes and all the best with any conversation you decide to have with your partner. With Love, Teresha Xx