This week I have been working on and have faced this notion of being in a marriage or a relationship that no longer works and yet has so many benefits that make it hard to say goodbye. Relationships usually begin moving from the honeymoon stage to a power struggle stage sometime after 6 months. Many couples can come through and pass the power struggle stage. Some get stuck in it and the everyday power struggle creates a loss of attraction for their mate. The romantic relationship is based on attraction and desire and when that is gone, the core reason for the intimacy goes away. Many couples also like the stability, financial security, being a parent, creating a family and a community within their marriage. However, when the intimacy, attraction, and desire leaves the marriage, what is left is a functional relationship and not necessarily a joyous one. For many couples, if the functionality and the communication work then they remain in the comfort of a functional relationship and may actually prefer it to singlehood.
When communication continues to be in the power struggle stage which looks like angry outbursts or demeaning remarks, sarcastic remarks, avoidance of topics and ignoring each other’s needs, then there is no comfort left and either one of the partners or both think about ending the relationship. This stage begins a process of loss and bargaining. The grief of losing the relationship plus the loss of the fantasy of the ideal desired relationship that they thought when they started their relationship with, begins. There will still be some bargaining of “if you change to the way I want you to be, maybe I will reconsider”, however, this test also leans toward a set up for failure. This process will continue until the negativity surpasses the positivity in the experience of one partner and then they call it quits.
I have sat through 30 years of these pains with my clients and have gone through this phase personally in the past. It is one of the hardest places to be. At times it appears that staying is painful and leaving is also painful. Fear of harming their children and family members, fear of being alone, fear of not making it financially, fear of the unknown, fear of people’s judgment, fear of never finding their ideal relationship, fear of never experiencing love, and more becomes the vision of tomorrow. The pain of being alone inside the relationship, not being seen or heard, not cared for, feeling abused, feeling neglected and more will create a feeling of suffocation.
This ambivalence state might take years and when the pain of one side finally reaches optimum state there is a solid decision and action toward the position with the lesser pain. Some couples decide to stay and change all of their expectations and reasons for staying and therefore adjust and adapt themselves to a new form of the same relationship. Some will jump into the unknown side of the future and move on through the pain of grief of what was and the anxiety of what will be for the hopes of a better tomorrow.
This decision is so personal and unique to each individual and the type of relationship that cannot be categorized to what is right or wrong and what should be done. It is more of what each person is willing to tolerate and what price will each be willing to pay for what is desired to achieve.
Anger has been soaring in society, media, community, families, and couples. Anger fuels anger. Angry outbursts create distrust, sense of danger, sense of uneasiness, insecurity, humiliation, disrespect, and destruction. Usually, the person who is angry in their intimate relationship or marriage is not getting their needs met, feel threatened, have unfulfilled expectations, want to dominate or control, need to take a stance for something or more. The person who is the recipient of the angry outburst might feel afraid, annoyed, stuck, humiliated, powerless, helpless, angry and seek revenge or retaliation and more.
The angry outburst although are communicating the intensity of the feeling, they are not clearly sending the message of what you really mean across. The intensity of the anger and the demeaning words that are used to put down another person takes away from the listening of the person being attacked. A person who feels attacked could biologically only try to save themselves at that time, so they truly cannot be there for their angry mate.
So, if you are angry at your mate for any reason, remember dumping your anger at them will not get you what you want. It will certainly make them want to run away from you and hide or want to fight back and crush you. So far, you will not have a caring mate listening to you. Even if they give you what you want in that instance, they will do it by holding grudge and hatred. I promise you they will retaliate soon one way or another.
How would you be able to get your mate to listen? Well, being respectful will help. Letting them know how much you appreciate who they are and acknowledging what they offer you in the relationship will certainly open the door for them to want to be close to you and get interested in what you have to say. Being clear in what has hurt you and stating it in a vulnerable way so that the effect of their action on you is being expressed. Allow your sadness and disappointment to show letting your mate see and feel the impact of their action on you. Then request what you do need from them. The odds in your mate hearing you and seeing you and wanting to give you what you want goes up. They might not do exactly what you want to them to do, give them the opportunity to say what they can do for you, and then be open to negotiating what is possible that works for both of you.
People want to care for each other and do things for each other. Being a mate is really a beautiful union for you to share your needs and know that you have someone who cares for you to fulfill your needs. Being loving and courteous goes a longer way than lashing out your expectations and demands.
Love with every fiber of your being and share yourself with your mate.
I have noticed when we are not committed to peace and happiness inside of us and with others, we constantly create fights in our own head and then outside with others which in return feeds the inner fighting dialogue with a sense of entitlement. This vicious cycle continues all day.
The reason I mentioned a commitment to peace and happiness is that no one stays in these states constantly. Our thoughts and emotions are always vacillating. There are many good reasons for us to feel angry or sad all day. However, the commitment to be in peace and state of happiness allows us to reroute our attention, thoughts, intention toward ways of thinking and behaving so that we return to the state of peace and happiness instead of roaming around for hours and days in fear, sadness, and anger.
You don’t get to choose the automatic thoughts and emotions that arise constantly within you. You do have the choice of committing yourself to a state of peace and happiness and therefore shifting your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors toward creating and sustaining peace and happiness. You certainly deserve to be in peace and to be Happy.
Create an amazing week ahead for yourself and others around you.
Dating is one of the biggest aspects of life, and as such it is one of the most common topics in therapy. In particular, issues regarding approaching someone you are interested in are very common. One of the most common issues is people not knowing how to approach a person they find attractive.
We learn a lot from our parents, but dating usually is not something we learn from them. It’s also difficult to learn from our friends because we don’t always have their personalities.
- The right way to approach someone is to be process oriented rather than goal oriented. Instead of trying to get a date, get a girlfriend/ boyfriend, or even just score, you need to view it as getting to know another person. As long as you see it from this perspective, it stops you from performing an act – instead, the main aspect of your encounter becomes sharing yourself with another human being. Here is a homework assignment for you: go out and have a good conversation with any girl or guy you think is attractive, but person-to-person, with no agenda other than just enjoying the conversation; don’t even consider asking her/ him out for coffee. When you get used to the concept of engaging in a continuing dialogue with strangers – having the audacity to shift from just sitting in a coffee shop to having a full on natural conversation about the coffee, the weather, her/his shoes, or whatever topic is present in the moment – you can move on to the next step.
- Get out of your brain. You do not need to try to be perfect, right, nice, or smart. It will make you very anxious. Being caught up with yourself will hide your sexual energy, the component of you that creates attraction. Your anxiety and thought processes will stand in the way of that sexual energy and your ability to be flirtatious. When speaking to someone you are interested in, you need to be present and comfortable in your own body, speaking about the same things you would otherwise, except feeling and embracing your sexuality within the context of the conversation. This will change your natural body language, causing it to express nonverbal cues communicating your interest to the other person. If this ignites the other person’s interest, you will naturally enter a phase of flirtation and excitation, where you communicate via spoken word and body language both. As a result, it will become easier to ask someone out casually, working along the lines of “we’re enjoying this conversation so much we should get together to continue it.” At the next conversation you can move to the next level and ask for a date.
- From a girl’s perspective, there is a cultural idea that girls have to be asked out rather than doing the asking themselves. Girls can be assertive if they want, but it is far more common to be pursued. So, even if they are interested in someone, they won’t convey that interest directly.
People at a slightly older age might be looking for a more permanent relationship. Sometimes, they end up dealing with the dating process as if they are evaluating portfolios, rather than just enjoying the process, assessing who their date is, and figuring out if they could have a good relationship with them, they treat it almost like a job interview. This approach doesn’t work for two reasons:
- One, by treating a date like a job interview, the fun aspect of dating gets diminished. Treating a date like a formal interview inevitably prevents you from getting another date.
- Two, people are not usually clear on what they want; being unclear in an interview setting can be very awkward, while being clear to yourself with what you want will allow you to evaluate your date in a more casual manner.
- One way you can get clear on your own is by listing out 100 items of what you would want from an ideal relationship – not just your partner but also the relationship itself. Maybe the first ten to fifteen items are cliché things we all want, then another 15 are a bit more specific, coming from things you’ve learned from past relationships and the people around you. Then the stretching begins. You need to observe other people, ask friends and family, read books and watch movies, and figure out what you really want. Thus, you go from wanting “this size, this tall, kind, loving,” to what type of relationship we want: clear communication, honesty, security, e.g.. When you write the list of 100, you see how much you yourself fit into your ideal relationship, what you want to offer and what you yourself bring to the table. Of course, you don’t bring the physical list on dates, but the act of thinking about what you want helps you naturally figure out if your date is a good match.
- The time you spend going out with someone is for the sake of the idea that you are going to meet with another human being and find out whether this human will match what you want for a date or not. Even if you’re looking for the perfect job, you don’t treat any interview for a less than perfect job as pointless; you treat each interview as if it’s the exact one you want. You should do the same thing when dating. Like interviewing for a job, where there is a lot you can learn just from the process of going through interviews, there is a lot you can learn just from going on dates. You enjoy the process, bringing your thoughts, emotions, and sexual energy to the present moment. Different parts of you get shared, then you sense if the same thing happened for the other person. The date itself is about getting to know someone and enjoying the time you spend with them. However, subconsciously, you have things that you want out of a relationship. In order to have a good relationship, you need to become consciously aware of what you really want; the more you do your own homework of your own needs, likes, and dislikes, the more apt you will be to share and ask on a date in a natural way.
It should be noted that these issues are not gender-specific; it isn’t only men that have trouble approaching someone they are interested in, and it isn’t only women who have issues with evaluating their dates. These issues come up at different points in your life, and it is important to be able to recognize and deal with them if you want to have a happy relationship.
Dr. Foojan Zeine www.foojan.com
Could every thing really be entirely your fault? The answer is NO. So, if you have a way of thinking that constantly blames you, then you are really suffering from low self-esteem. But wait, you must also think that you are so grand and powerful in the world that you are responsible for all that happens, and yet clumsy enough, so that you don’t do it right.
So let’s put things in perspective. When something happens and we do not like the result, we usually try to analyze and then see what went wrong and automatically put the blame on some one. Some people will blame others and not take responsibility for their action and some people will put all the responsibility on themselves. The reality is that many factors are at play and tere is never all or nothing.
When a result does not turn out the way we want it, what can I do?
- Go over the event from the beginning and write it down as it appears to you
- Become aware of your role in the event, your thoughts, your feelings, your intentions, your behaviors
- See if your way of behaving was in tune with your original intention
- Did your intention change in the middle of the process
- Assess to find what did you have control over and what was out of your control
- Analyze how did you handle the area that you had some control over
- What have you learned from this interaction that can be useful if the same matters or similar matters happen again
- Acknowledge yourself for all that you did right in the process
- Forgive your self for all that you did not know or that you made a mistake about
- Know that at any moment, you did the best that you were capable of with all the information that you had at that time
- Take the values that you have learned and store it for the next time.
Dr. Foojan Zeine www.foojan.com