Archive for conflict
I was wondering if you could give me any advice on dealing with jealousy in a relationship? I love my partner and for a lot of the same reasons that I love him I tend to get insanely jealous over stupid things. I’m working with myself on a lot of things in particular that seem to come completely naturally to him, but I have a hard time not getting bitter about it. I know my bitterness is misplaced, so I try to repress it and then it ends up coming out some other time, causing some completely ridiculous argument. I know that I could sit down and list all my good traits or have him point out what he admires about me, but I wish I could just get my mind to stop comparing us all together.
Thanks for writing so honestly on a topic we can all relate to. Here are some thoughts about your situation. Feel free to ask more if needed.
Most of us partner with someone who has different skills and qualities than we do. What they can naturally and easily do well, we may have to work really hard to accomplish, if we even want to put our energy into those endeavors. Even then we may not ever reach their skill level. Usually, we too, have areas of natural expertise that our partners may find difficult for themselves. Hopefully we don’t downplay those too much!
Sometimes, in a couple, one person is more of a “glass half empty” type (like me) and looks more at what’s missing. The other is often more a “glass half full” person, and seems to pay more attention to their wholeness. When our focus is more on “where we’re not” it’s easier to feel bad in comparison to another. “Glass half fullers” (like Kate) don’t tend to go there, at least not in the light of day. Read More→
We wanted to give you a head’s up, in case you missed it in the magazine, on a real good article from Yoga Journal entitled Grow Your Love. Lots of wisdom from a solid handful of couples (yours truly included) who share the similarities and useful awarenesses between the practice of Yoga and the journey of Relationship.
Here is a little snippet to whet your appetite:
“It’s no secret that relationships require work, but, as in yoga, you can find a happy balance between effort and ease when you apply your awareness. “A lot of people feel like, ‘If you loved me, we wouldn’t have to work at this,’” Feldman says, but he thinks that’s an unrealistic attitude. The trick,when it feels like too much effort, is to find more ease. To help couples with this, Feldman and his wife help their clients discover “love rituals”—small gestures practiced up to three times a day for two to three minutes at a time—so they can reconnect with the partner as a source of pleasure rather than pain.”
Hope you enjoy!
Kate and I highly value a skill we call “Self Soothing” because we know that our partners, family members and friends are virtually guaranteed to trigger age-old reactions in us. Of this we can be certain. In order to create a safe space for our closest relations to let us know what happened, we must be willing to listen carefully to “their world” or their perspective on what happened. This is one of what we call the “willful practices” on the path of relationship. When we can’t hold onto ourselves, we are bound to interrupt our partner and usually kick-off another round of defensive behavior that often devolves into the blame game, you know how it goes, “I’m right, you’re wrong, here’s why”.
I was feeling poetic and penned this little self reminder this morning. Hope it’s helpful.
You’re upset…I can breathe and relax…
And let you be upset…And breathe some more….
And try to feel your pain, even if it’s me you’re upset with…
I can relax….And hear about what’s upsetting you…
I don’t need to defend myself…I don’t need to justify my behavior…
I can breathe and just be with you…In your upset….
I may have defensive thoughts from time to time…But you still are not wrong… Read More→
From time to time we receive (and even answer!) questions that seem especially relevant to many of us in committed relationships. Here’s a goodie!
Q. “Is it common for a man to desire more space and freedom than a woman does? I am constantly trying to find the balance of acting from my heart (meaning, if I genuinely want to talk to him then I’ll call him!) and giving him space and not smothering him by waiting for him to reach out to me. It’s hard. My partner has this great need for space, to feel free. I on the other hand, want to feel needed, loved, and shown it a lot! What happens is that I show him what I want -which comes off clingy, and he feels like running away (creating more space). When I feel this ‘space’, I feel like running towards him… and thus the cycle.”
A. It’s good to hear from you. Your feelings make quite a bit of sense. All intimate relationships are made up of two people doing the closeness-distance dance. Gender plays a big role because of the ways we are socialized, but it’s not always the man who wants “space” – what we call the natural need for autonomy (as opposed to the natural need for togetherness). Our adult fears of not getting enough of either autonomy or togetherness are a product of several factors: our temperaments, our upbringing, the environment in which we grew up, and some people might even say, karma. In an intimate partnership, each person’s needs tend to trigger the others’ fears, so there is a lot of potential for each person being triggered on a regular basis. This is to be expected!
Our aversion to too much closeness or distance is a fear based on the past. While we will definitely keep acting it out, we always have the choice to work on understanding each person’s different world, and beginning to make space for what we have pushed away in the past.
As always, my main criteria for a successful relationship is the desire of both partners to grow themselves. The biggest opportunity for that growth is in relation to how our partner may frighten us. It is no accident that we are attracted to a person with different (often opposite!) needs and fears, but choosing to dig deeply and change ourselves is what is often missing. Most couples stay stuck in the blame game: “if you loved me, you would behave and love me my way”. This only leads to more of the same which is your case is: the more you pursue, the more he distances, and the more he distances the more you pursue. A vicious cycle, as you know. Read More→
For better or for worse, the “little things” in relationships, both good and bad, matter more than we’d like to believe. We’ve spoken before on this blog about our belief that daily life IS foreplay for couples. We know that large, regular doses of kindness offered to our partner make for great connection and intimacy. Continuing to water and feed the garden of our relationship is critical.
But there is another grouping of “Little Things” that we all must pay attention to… the Weeds! In honor of Summer, it seems appropriate to look at what our love interests have in common with our gardens. Weeding our relationship garden is critical. Weeds not dealt with can wreak havoc on those wonderful plants we’ve been cultivating for a while. We have one in particular that attaches itself to other plants and gradually chokes the life out of them. Can you see where I’m going with this? I see it every day in my office; “small” problems or conflicts left unattended gradually suck the juice out of the relationship.
Believe me, I pull a lot of weeds out of our flower gardens. The problem is, many times I don’t get the whole root and they just grow back again. In our relationships, the weeds or frustrations we experience also have deeper roots. Without getting at these our conflicts simply return again and again in one form or another. They’ve been doing that our entire lives. There are no magic carpets we can sweep them under or weed killers that take care of the problem long term. “If we don’t deal, we can’t heal”. It’s an ongoing project. Read More→