Tag Archives: couples

Will it Last?

 

“If only I could see into the future. I keep wondering if we’ll be together.”

Abby has a new love in her life. He treats her well, they laugh, play and enjoy many of the same things. Secretly though, she’s consumed by fears of it not lasting.

“Right now your relationship with Tyler is only a tiny sprout,” I explained. “So at this point it’s impossible to know if that sprout is a weed or a flower.”

I also pointed out that she’s not a mere passive observer—powerless—waiting for the future to unfold. She’s an active participant in creating it.

The nature and the quality of the future are under construction today.

Day-to-day interactions serve as the building blocks affecting the quality and fate of our relationships. Invariably, we shape tomorrow by how we choose to relate and operate in the present.

Abby freely admits that her recent treatment of Tyler hasn’t been the greatest. Instead of being positive and light, she’s frequently snippy and impatient with him. She says it’s because he’s reluctant to commit. He tells her it’s too early since they’ve only been together for a matter of months.

Her obsession over tomorrow robs her of any enjoyment that the moment offers. So how can he enjoy the relationship if she isn’t?  And how appealing is a partner who comes off prickly?  One could say that Abby’s outlook is self-defeating—creating the very reality she fears.

For those in Abby’s shoes, I offer the following advice: Don’t focus on getting a commitment. Let the quality of the relationship be your goal. When the experience of being together is gratifying on a multitude of levels, for both parties, a commitment naturally follows.

Abby’s trying to control her insecurities by controlling the situation. To gain assurance about the future, she’s counting on external cues from Tyler.

That never works. Not only does it pressure others, causing them to pull back, it also fails to provide real guarantees. That’s because life is about changes—unpredictable changes. What exists today can change abruptly.

The only certainty we have is the present moment where we all dwell. Therefore, we must relish that moment and make the best of it.

Abby’s desire for a committed relationship is understandable. She just doesn’t have a right to ask someone to meet her expectations. Love accepts the position of the other person, and it accepts his or her need to be true to themselves.

Abby emphasized that she’s hesitant to stay in a relationship that lacks a commitment. “In case it doesn’t work out between us, I don’t want to get too attached to him.”

I responded, “Your downcast demeanor tells me it’s too late—you’re already attached.”

When Abby doesn’t let pessimism take the reins, this new relationship is nourishing in many ways, so walking out seems a bit premature. Let’s face it, a complete break from a person who has added brightness to one’s life seems like deprivation. Why do that? It smacks of self-denial.

I suggested she give the relationship time to grow—committing to the process.

And there’s another thought for Abby to chew on: Some of the best relationships don’t have marriage as an endgame.  So Tyler and Abby may not be headed for marriage, but that doesn’t diminish its potential worth.

Among Abby’s many challenges in this current growth lab of hers—and that’s what relationships are!—is conquering that all-or-nothing mindset.

Long-term devotion blossoms where two people are dedicated to the quality of what they build together—in the here and now.

 

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.

(c) 2017 Salee Reese

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Our Favorite Illusion

apple tree

Some dreamy-eyed part of us clings to the illusion that through a sheer act of will we can change another human being. Such misguided thinking is as unrealistic as believing we can get a walnut tree to start producing apples.

For six years Sonya has asked her husband—who works in the remodeling industry—to fix the gaping hole in their kitchen ceiling. If it weren’t for a sheet held in place by thumbtacks, the studs and insulation would show.

The ceiling is just one of her many frustrations. My jaw dropped at some of the things she has put up with over the years. That’s the key point—she puts up with it. So how can she expect change? Sonya came to me wanting to know how she could change her husband. She’s at the end of her rope—change must happen or she’ll either leave the guy or die from frayed nerves.

She’s tried talking to him but that leads nowhere. “Instead of trying to understand what I think, he turns it into a conflict,” she said. Fodder for warfare.

Her husband makes approaching him with a problem an impossibility. The result: stifled grievances. Such things build to a point of creating a gap in the relationship equivalent to the hole in their ceiling.

Because he’s unapproachable, I told Sonya she must be the change she wants to see in her relationship. “You can’t make him change but you can.” Sonya must start by valuing herself more. This means acknowledging the things that rob her of happiness and negatively impact her well-being. She wants her husband to hear her distress and honor her needs. She has to start with herself instead of passively enduring.

Second, Sonya must empower herself to seek solutions—relief—from tormenting circumstances. Putting up with something that undermines her peace for six years is SELF-torture.

She followed my advice. His family was planning to visit in a few weeks so she told him: “Either take care of this before your family shows up or I’ll hire it done.” She was prepared to do just that.

He chose to fix the hole. The victory here isn’t that he finally stepped up to the plate, but that Sonya finally took charge of her own happiness.

 

Names are changed to honor client confidentiality

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Trained By a Dog

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Let’s face it, if we’re vague about what we want,

we won’t get it.

Like Karen, a former client, we’ll only cultivate inner frustration.

“Never—ever!—did I anticipate the day I’d be jealous of a dog,” she said, “but I am . . . If the dog wants to play, Sam drops everything and plays with him.”

“Dropping everything,” meant abruptly turning his attention away from Karen. Despite her obvious advantages—the fact that she’s human, intelligent and married to her husband—she felt reduced to second-class citizenship.

Clearly, the dog had the edge in their relationship. All it took was a certain whimper or a wet nose placed strategically on Sam’s lap and Karen was out.

My advice was strange but it worked: “Take your cues from the dog. I guess that means you gotta get more dog-like.”  Click here to get the full scoop.

 

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The Latest Wow: She Won’t Let it Go!

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????All men reading that title instantly know what it means. Yep—they do. Not only is it a common complaint among men in general, it’s a common complaint among my male clients.

No question, guys would prefer—no, jump at the chance—to run a 20 mile marathon, uphill, rather than answer to a “we-need-to-talk” invitation from their female partner. Why is that? Could be they anticipate being dragged endlessly through the mud. It happens. Pure torture.

So avoidance is understandable. Who gleefully walks into a battlefield? Actually, according to scientific research, women don’t mind it as much. For us,  peace can and is often sacrificed for the sake of confronting a bothersome issue.

Not so for men. Their brains actually suffer more—undergo greater stress—in such encounters.  Could be why they work so hard to avoid them, or why they use humor to lighten things up.

Another thing that can be agonizing for a man is discussing a problem that doesn’t have a solution or apparent end. Pure torture, again.

So women take note—there’s hope! Your man may be more willing to participate in touchy discussions when he receives a “hey-I-need-your-input” invitation. It sounds friendlier and carries a message that an end is in sight—a solution can be reached!

The reason I’m writing about this is so I can share with you what a man said to his wife not long ago in the midst of one of those elongated and stressful discussions. I’m still laughing about it:

“What do I have to say to make you feel you won because I’m tired of rehashing the same old thing.” 

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