And friends, the same is true in our relationships. Sometimes we can be standing too close. We can be staring so closely at what’s not working we fail to have any perspective. We can’t see our part in the disconnection and we really can’t see the best way to repair it.
Have you ever had one of those arguments that is going absolutely no where, but God help you if you’re actually able to step out of it? You know the ones, when about half way through you lose track of what you’re even arguing about? Yes friends…I’ve been there too.
It’s honestly like the argument evolves into a “who’s not being heard the most” debate and it’s toxic. Because as far as I know restating your point with more examples, louder voices and greater repetition never got anyone anywhere.
Droughts in our relationship can be really lonely and disheartening and it’s pretty normal to wonder if we can drought proof our relationships.
Are there things we can do to prevent our love connection from going dry?
Simply put, yes we can. But it takes some careful planning.
Because as nutty as this may sound, I have couples come into my office once a week and get very aggravated after 3-4 sessions that nothing drastic has changed. We’ll start to explore their weekly homework, how much they’re putting the tools learned in session into daily action and what they’re doing each week to prioritize their relationship outside of therapy and I swear to you, this is when my office starts to feel like the principal’s office. They start to squirm, avoid eye contact and mumble under their breath. They begin to realize that maybe they’re not holding up their end of the bargain.
For the record, infidelity is really hard to talk about. It makes people uncomfortable and pretty judgmental. It seems like whenever someone hears about a couple struggling to heal from an affair, they make sweeping judgments about affairs on how they would “never tolerate” that in their relationship or they would leave “in an instant” if their partner cheated on them. But the truth is, it’s not that simple. And hearing people’s input of what they “would” do can do more harm than good.
And after many, many years of marriage it’s a debate I don’t see being resolved any time soon. So last weekend when this “debate” came up again, aka, my seat belt locked up on me as my husband brought the car to a screeching halt, I realized that this yellow light is pretty similar to what I see every day in my Sacramento therapy office.
It’s Not Going To Be Perfect
So in honor of these past eleven years, here are the things I know to be true about relationships. My relationship truths!
1. They are insanely hard – well no shit! I mean we hear this one every day, but what does it really mean. Well it means they are insanely hard. Our love relationships are the most unique relationships we have. And for that reason, we don’t get to practice the skills we need to be successful in love at any given moment because most of the rest of the world doesn’t require us to be as vulnerable as we need to be in love.
Why do we shame ourselves for asking for help?
I’m truly interested in this answer. And if someone has it, please share it with me.
Because I find over and over again that people are the harshest critics of themselves, especially when they ask for help. It’s like somewhere along the way we learned that asking for help is weak, that we should be able to do it all on our own and asking for help is a sign you’re not superwoman (or superman).
In lieu of a blog entry this week, I decided to do something different.
With Independence Day coming later this week, I want you to take on a challenge…..a freedom challenge.
This week, I want you to be set free.
I know that in this life we all have things that weigh us down. Worries. Fears. Challenges. Obstacles.
There are many of you that are probably familiar with the Captain from his batting average, shortstop skills and classy attitude, but few of you may know about his refusal to allow anyone past his entry way with a phone. Yes Jeter is a private guy, but he’s also a guy that wants people to come over and really connect with one another. He literally has a basket waiting for you when you walk in the front door to leave your phone only to be returned upon your exit later in the evening.
Did you know that our brain expects to have a certain amount of engagement and connection and if we don’t we can actually suffer from emotional starvation? Sounds pretty intense, huh?
Well let’s simplify it a bit so that we can really understand why connection is so important and how to rebuild it if it’s faltering.
Those of you that know me well, know that I love a good a** kicking. I’m the type of person that is totally ok doing too many burpees during a workout. I’m not the fastest, I’m not the strongest, but man do I love intense exercise.
With that being said, the reason that I endure the intensity of this type of workout is not because I’m wired differently, it’s because of the relationships I’ve built in my gym.
And truth be told, there’s some universal truths in Crossfit that are the exact same as a successful relationship.
Do you know when your partner’s in pain? Do you know the moments that you need to respond to in order to provide support and comfort? Often times couples can know each other without KNOWING each other and that’s where attunement comes in.
In order for us to really KNOW our partner, we need to be able to decipher between the moments that matter and the ones that aren’t that important. Attunement is the ability to be in-sync with our partner, connected and then being able to respond to those moments that matter.
I work with couples in my Sacramento therapy office that are rarely arguing about what they’re actually arguing about. Confusing, huh?
Let me break it down for a second. During negative interactions with our mate, we have both a reactive and a vulnerable side. It’s extremely rare for the vulnerable side to be shared during this negative interaction. We usually let our reactive side be seen and shut down the vulnerable side.
Does trying to understand your partner’s feelings ever feel like your flying down the freeway going 100mph with no brakes? Sort of like the cult classic movie SPEED. Emotions kind of get a bad rap in that way. They are seen as being irrational, out of control and all around useless. Like I said, a BAD rap.
And it makes me sad, because the truth is our emotions and feelings are the most amazing signaling systems we have, especially in relationships. Emotions are our response and reactions to a situation and truth be told, every emotion makes sense if we slow down long enough to put it into context.
Has anyone else out there fallen victim to the Serial podcast? Oh my goodness it's addicting. I think I blew through all 12 episodes much faster than I'd like to admit. For those of you who haven't yet, I highly recommend it. And I promise this post will contain no spoilers!
There was a line during the series that really stood out for me and made me think about the couples I work with.
In my Sacramento therapy offices I work with couples that really love each other but want to know how to fall back IN love with each other. Now this may seem like just semantics to some, but the truth is loving someone is quite different than being in love with them.
You see Love is a verb.