The concept of enemy and ally in our marriages have been deeply resonating with me right now because of its simplicity. When I consider different ways we all struggle in our relationships and the process of working through them in a way that benefits us and impacts the relationship positively, using these two lenses is a quick way to decide how we want to move forward. It’s like using two different macro lenses when viewing conflict, helping us to more quickly view potential outcomes and quickly assessing which lens will get us closer to our long-term desired marriage goals. Today we’re going to look at the definition of both, what it looks like to zoom out on your marriage so you can start to choose what your long term goals look like, then we’ll look at how to zoom in and decide which lens you want to choose and lastly, we will dig into what being an ally looks like in real life. If you decide that most of your past responses might classify you as “being an enemy” in your marriage, no worries because today we will take you through the steps from enemy to ally in your most intimate relationship.
Let’s start with looking at the definition of enemy and ally
To begin I think we can all agree that these two words are opposites, for me enemy is repelling and ally is drawing together but let’s look at what I found online.
Enemy: someone who is hostile to, feels hatred towards, opposes the interests of, or intends injury to someone else, a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.
Ally: to unite, or form a connection between, one that is associated with another as a helper: a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle.
I think it’s easy to discover which one we want to be if we are interested in improving our marital relationship yet we are often unaware of how we may actually be showing up from a place of hostility. Been there, done that, let’s re-frame.
Using a binocular perspective to envision our marital future.
Often when women come to me, they have stopped dreaming about their future relationship with their partner, they are just struggling to feel good in the moment, in the day to day, but if we were to zoom way out, as if looking through a pair of binoculars to see what our future together might look like, each one of them knows what they want. They want a happy, connected, joyful marriage and the only way to get there is through the lens of the ally. Too often, the reason we aren’t moving forward in our marriage is that we have taken a defensive position, and we’re, unknowingly, viewing and reacting to everything through the lens of the enemy. Though we may try things that could move us closer together, we don’t take the enemy glasses off, so when things don’t go as planned, we retreat to shelter and don’t take steps to join forces and move forward together.
When we can start looking through the lens of unity and alliance, we can start seeing what we want to create. This is when we can start choosing how we want to show up and create what we want in our relationship. From this perspective, we can keep moving forward and assess what is happening in our marital relationship. As you start to show up in your marriage in a way that makes you feel proud, that is when you get a clearer perspective of what is actually happening for you and your partner. As enemies, we hide and protect ourselves; from this perspective, we can’t clearly see what is actually happening on the front line.
Using a macro lens in your moment to moment decisions
When you can start to develop ideas about what you want your future relationship to look like and recognize that to start navigating in that direction means using the ally macro lens, that is when you can better choose your lens in the moment. In the day-to-day of our relationships, things can easily get messy, and they can get messy quickly. Someone says something; the other takes it in a way that makes them feel a negative emotion and off to the battle line you go, but when we are keeping the ally – enemy model in mind, it’s easy to pause and recognize that you are moving off track.
It’s a simple tool to help you quickly decide how you want to move forward. Sometimes the ally lens might be as simple as pausing and asking for a time out to examine what is happening so you can come back together after sorting through what happened.
I’m going to share a recent example from my life, something that happened this weekend in the grocery line.
Becoming a better ally to your partner
Allies run deeper than friendship; allies share a deeper purpose, shared meaning, and values. As allies, we share similar futures based on each person fulfilling their greatest potential in life. The truth is that allying with your partner doesn’t mean that we always agree and say the things we think our partner wants to hear; allies have our better interest in mind, which might seem a bit rough, maybe what you might consider being tough love. An ally is honest with you, and when you’re an ally with someone, they trust that you will be completely honest with them, and this doesn’t look like sugar-coating something they might need to hear, but it also doesn’t mean tearing them down. It’s telling the truth from a place of caring compassion and a desire to see the other person grow. Your partner as an ally shares your vision with you; they want what they see as best for you, they know your potential, and they want to push you to become the amazing person they see inside of you.
When you are an ally with your partner, you choose to align yourself with what matters to them, we know what their dreams are, and we understand what they are striving for and who they want to become. As an ally, we don’t expect them to conform to our ideals or set their goals to please us because we genuinely want them to create their best lives.
As an aside, this is also part of what we do in AwakenYou; we work on who you want to be, who you were created to be, who you are at your essence, and start living into that life. As you do that work, you will also start seeing your partner from a different perspective, from the perspective of who they are at their core, and as you create your new alliance with yourself and your marriage, you can allow your partner to become their best self as well.
Being an ally does not mean enabling your partner by rescuing them and pushing them along their path; it’s more about encouragement and letting them find their way. You influence them and encourage them along their best path because what we learn is that they are the only ones who truly know their own path. A healthy alliance is an engaged relationship where you give and take and complement each other; one isn’t superior to the other. We align with our partners so that when things don’t go as planned, we can help them see their vision instead of feeling sorry for them, which only keeps them stuck where they are without seeking solutions.
How to go from enemy to ally
It is really the process I have laid out here, first stepping back and assessing what has happened in your marriage and where you want to go. From this new perspective, you can decide which stance you want to take in your day-to-day interactions and will that perspective bring you closer to that long-term goal you want out of your most intimate relationship.
As you make these decisions, you can start implementing them; seeing when you have taken the wrong perspective and changing course will allow you to continue getting back on course and start feeling better in your relationship. You start to discuss your disagreements and begin coming up with compromises bringing you closer together in all of the little decisions required in a marital commitment.
This concept has made it easy to choose my next steps in every situation of my marriage. I can easily tell which direction things are going while also recognizing that going off course is part of the journey, knowing that how I move forward will either take me further off the path or re-direct me back to where we want to go together.
If you are struggling in your marriage and feel like you and your partner are more enemies than allies, it is ok. Sometimes we get so far off course that we have no clue where we are or how we got there – have you ever had this happen in your car? You get lost in your thoughts, and all of a sudden, you come to consciousness not knowing where you are, but the truth is, you are never really lost. You haven’t crossed an ocean or country borders; you are still in the marriage you said yes to.
In AwakenYou, you will start discovering who you are and who you want to be in your marriage. Then we start doing the work of bringing you back on course, and I hope you will join me on this journey back to your best life and marriage!
I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true self. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.