Sunday, March 29, 2009

Giving Yourself Permission to Divorce in Order to Choose to be Married


I'm sure you have heard someone say, "Divorce is not an option for me; divorce is not in my vocabulary." This expression can mean different things to different people. To someone in a satisfying marriage, this expression can mean that he/she is committed to their marriage and willing to tackle whatever roadblocks to intimacy that may arise.

But to someone in a marriage crisis the expression can represent entrapment, suggesting, "I made my bed and I must lie in it." The difficulty with this outlook during a marriage crisis is that one cannot choose to remain married unless one has a choice. Removing yours or your partner's choice can result in a marriage without intimacy or closeness. Such a choice can have lasting consequences.

It is far better to give yourself permission to divorce in order to give yourself permission to be married. A healthy marriage requires much effort, work that cannot be given reluctantly. Your partner's distancing may tempt you to manipulate the situation in order to avoid divorce. Friends and family may be willing accomplices in the manipulation because they do not want the marriage to dissolve.

Resist such desperate behavior. Trust that your partner must make a decision to commit to the relationship. Only a choice freely given will include motivation to draw close to you and willingness to trust giving one's heart away (once again).


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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Listen to Your Anger


Check out the
article by Mona Barbera, Ph.D Relationships: Tips to Help You Get through the Conflict in your Marriage.

The crux of her article is that anger is a signal, neither something to be ignored or impulsively acted on. She says:

"Get to know the good intentions of your anger or coldness.
This is the hardest step and the easiest step. It’s the hardest step because: Your anger or coldness can be fast and powerful. You have to catch it before it takes over. You have to take a chance and consider that your anger is more than it seems. At first it’s hard to imagine that your anger might have good intentions. You’ve been taught that anger or distance is bad. It doesn’t make sense until you try it. You have to be willing to take a chance and do an experiment. This step is easy once you try it!

Once you become curious about your own anger or coldness, you’ll understand that it is trying to protect you. You will see that your anger thinks you need protection, and maybe even thinks you are a small child. You might hear it say: “You’re just a child, you’re in danger, I have to protect you, this is too dangerous.”

Remember the key is: Don’t try to get rid of your anger. Once you do this step, you will be able to say to yourself: I get the good thing my anger is trying to do now. I see how my anger is a friend in strange clothing. I appreciate how my anger is trying to help and protect me. I understand how my anger sees me as the child I used to be, not the adult I am now – it is living in the past, and remembering when I was small and vulnerable."

I agree that anger can feel strong and protective, however it is actually a weak way of expressing yourself. Confront your "child" and determine whether it is really too dangerous or are you responding to messages from the past that made being vulnerable dangerous. Even if you are accurate, anger does not make the situation less dangerous. Stating your fears openly is far more effective in diffusing anger in a relationship.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Love is Easy, Relationships are Hard


Lots of research shows that love is more effective at bringing us together than keeping us together. You may have heard the saying, “Love is easy; relationships are hard.” The truth is relationships are hard because love is easy. Strong feelings and sensations of any kind carry an illusion of certainty. With the exception of resentment, no emotional experience has more illusion of certainty than love. -Steven Stosny, Ph.D. via Psychology Today (http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement)

I like Steven's blog. I do think relationships are hard and that feelings are not necessarily to be trusted. Feelings change easily, whereas commitment is maintained even when feelings change.