Maybe we trust each other more. Now even when one (or both) of us is in a really small dark emotional place, we still have a general sense that our relationship is strong and things will work out in the end. 5 years ago
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Finally, a chance to put my loving energy to work! I have a very clear understanding of a specific area my partner needs healing, and what I need to do to facilitate that. I plan to make this a daily priority for the rest of this month. I can’t wait to see what will happen, what will change, as a result. 5 years ago
At first I was terrified by this thought; beneath that fear I realized that I thought our counselor was the only thing holding us together. Now that I say it, it sounds ridiculous; but when I compare what things were like right before we started seeing her and now… wow, it seemed like she created a huge transformation! So naturally I was holding onto her really tightly. But now that I have released my clenched fist, I see that we can take a little of the credit for that metamorphosis ourselves; we are the ones who have been doing the work! Now I think we will be just fine without her. It’s a risk, but maybe things will even be better if we find someone we both click with more. I am realizing that our relationship is even stronger than I thought it was. Some of the beliefs I had about our relationship were formed a long time ago and hadn’t been examined in a while; as it turns out, they don’t really apply any more.
Thanks for challenging me to reexamine those beliefs, baby. 5 years ago
I had a disheartening conversation with my sister last night, in which she expressed dismay that my partner and I have been in counseling for almost a year, “and you’re not even married!” Sometimes some of my other friends and family are also protective of me, and reluctant to support my investments in my relationship.
I need to find a more supportive community to help me with this goal: People who see counseling or other forms of relationship work and think words like: courage, commitment, integrity, growth, self-knowledge and healing. I see the work we’re doing as honorable work, work that not only helps us love each other better but also helps us radiate pure love outward and effect everyone around us. Work that helps us face our own self-induced suffering and feel more compassion for the suffering of others.
I’d love to find a spiritual community that we could join together, so everyone there would know us as a couple, feel equal loyalty to both of us, and want to see our relationship succeed. 5 years ago
Things have dramatically improved for us these last few months, and that feels great. But around some hot-button issues (less hot now, thankfully) we both still cling to our hurt feelings from the past.
If I had known I would one day have to answer for every petty, immature, selfish or careless thing I said; if I had known that I was harming my relationship and hurting my partner not just in the moment but in a lasting way, I would have been much more gentle all along. I thought that now that things were better we could put the past behind us. But the past just sticks around like toxic waste: You can try and forget about it but cleaning it up is nasty business.
My last (and only other) really serious relationship ended because the old ruts and patterns just seemed too entrenched, and getting out of them seemed hopeless; too many old feelings were connected to every little thing. At the time I thought I just needed to start over with a new partner. Funny how my dark side just stuck around.
While toxic waste cleanup is undeniably a smelly business, I am surprised and delighted to have a genuine sense of hope, because now it does seem possible. I am filled with deep love and gratitude to have a partner willing to go there with me, so we can both be healed. 5 years ago
Without shaming or blaming; instead taking responsibility for my own warped perceptions and asking for help to heal them. And after we talked it through, I felt so much better; it was like all the black clouds lifted and suddenly I could see clearly again and all those negative thoughts I was having seemed crazy, not real at all. But they had seemed so real only minutes before. The whole thing is sort of surreal. I’m glad I had such a compassionate and fierce-hearted partner to go there with me, wherever that was. 5 years ago
We have both liked the changes we’ve been making so far. An exercise we’re doing now invites us to make a list of behavior changes we’d like to ask our partner for. I thought of nine things, most of which I don’t have a huge emotional charge around.
But the thought of hearing my partner’s list makes me really nervous. So far I have been able to take a little at a time, presented in a loving way, and respond joyfully with changes in my behavior. But I’m worried that I’ll feel criticized or react defensively to a long list. I guess I just need to be honest and brave and try to focus less on my own feelings and more on the fact that these are places he’s vulnerable and really needs a positive reaction from me. These are things he’s being brave enough to share with me so I can help him heal.
Or so says Harville Hendrix. 5 years ago
I have always been a huge proponent of the belief that “you can’t change people; the only person you can change is yourself.” So whatever doesn’t work well in our relationship, I have felt like I just need to “deal with it.” I am beginning to see the possibilities of making occasional judicious and loving requests for changes in my partner’s behavior; also I am becoming more willing to change myself to meet my partner’s needs.
In the past this thought would have terrified me, made me feel scared like I was drifting without a center to hold on to; Now I am stronger and I don’t feel my sense of identity threatened by such requests. Am I any less myself if I change some behaviors to please my partner? Does, say driving with both hands on the wheel (not because I want to but because it makes him more comfortable) make me any less Flash? Not anymore. 5 years ago
Flash Something about this process is really helping me focus on meeting his needs, more and better than before
... instead of feeling grumpy about my own unmet needs and how long its taking for them to get met. I like how hard I see us both working to change ourselves to better meet each other’s needs.
I like the sense of possibility and empowerment (albeit fleeting) that I sometimes feel: that I can meet his needs, if I stretch myself.
In other relationships in the past, when things went downhill at the end and a power struggle began to tear us apart, I have felt powerless to change things and guilty that I wasn’t able to satisfy my partner. One time I remember literally being in a standoff, each partner literally withholding love and affection and saying, “I’m not going to give you what you need until you give me what I need.” That’s no way to move things forward! I remember feeling angry and resentful that all I was doing wasn’t enough to meet my partner’s needs or make him happy. Of course that’s because I was just doing what I wanted, or what I thought he wanted, and not what he really wanted. Or because I knew what he wanted, but it seemed too hard.
What my partner wants and needs from me still seems hard, but the universe seems to be reassuring me that that’s normal, and I can change. 5 years ago
Very challenging counseling session tonight. Please pray for us, send vibes, light candles or do your magic 43Things thing, whatever that is. 5 years ago
FlashExpress appreciation when I'm tired or stressed or down or freaked out, and he doesn't freak out too
Thanks for being there for me, baby. You’re doing a good job supporting me. I love you. 5 years ago
I think I’m doing a pretty good job being able to be there for him and listen to him and support him, even when he’s feeling discouraged and says things that might have freaked me out in the past (like that he’s worried about our relationship). This does not mean I should start writing a new profile for Match.com. It means that he’s working through some of his fears and needs my love and support. 5 years ago
He had scheduled a meeting to resolve a conflict with our landlady. This reminded me of the conflicts I witnessed in childhood between my sister and my mother, and made me want to run the other way.
But expressing anger is a big deal for him, and I wanted to support that. Also, he has a pattern of not being “stood up for” by significant people in his life, and I wanted to break that trend. So I knew I needed to be there for him, and I was. It was difficult, but it felt good to do it for him. As a result I have seen healing for him, growth in our relationship, and perhaps a greater sense of power for me in situations where I am “caught in the middle” of a conflict. Hooray!
I love you, baby. 5 years ago
It feels like having a dialogue instead of fighting, and really seeing both sides of any issue, is becoming second nature.
That’s going to tone things down a bit and make everything easier.
Thanks, baby. 5 years ago
Don’t we all? But so far it has been challenging for me to give this to him while still feeling like I am speaking up for myself and my needs. In order to help him heal, I will need to heal my own core issues of trust, to let go of anxiety and really know that my needs will get met and that my partner has my back. I need to stop worrying that I can’t count on him, and start telling him how certain I am that I can.
Things are shifting. But slowly. 6 years ago
But my sweetie really likes to shop at kitchen stores, home furnishing stores and organizing stores. He really wants to go together, and take our time noodling around. Unfortunately those places usually bore me out of my mind and I start acting like a 2-year-old after about 15 minutes… flopping into chairs, kicking my legs repetitively, messing with the displays.
But one our our assignments in therapy is to give pleasant surprises to our partner on a regular basis. This is just to build goodwill and help us be more able to handle the big challenges when they come up.
I realized that shopping would be a nice surprise for him that wouldn’t cost any money! So yesterday I told him to get in the car without telling him where we were going, and I took him to Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. Of course I did not complain, and I was prepared to stay as long as he wanted and listen to his ideas about organizing (even the ones that sound terrible or unworkable to me). I could see that his desire to shop is really about his desire for us to have a functional and beautiful home together, which is something I want too. I felt like I was supporting his hearts’ yearnings, and I could tell he really enjoyed it.
In fact, I think an old power struggle pattern (him desperately wanting me to go to those places with him, my unwillingness) has softened a little. It wasn’t that bad. I’d go again, since I know it means a lot to him. 6 years ago