Gosh, I have such fantastic work. I can’t think of a better fit between my qualities and aspirations and what I do right now. My clients are a continuous source of inspiration and hope for me.
Today I talked with Frank. He is getting married. He came in last week, noticing that he was becoming more and more dependent on the approval of his fiancee, her taking the lead, and him complying with her wants and desires. He was losing some of the vulnerability that radiated through the early stages of dating.
We talk about the challenge in committed, intimate relationships of finding balance between autonomy and authentic self-expression on the one hand and togetherness and acceptance on the other. How we often give up on the one in favor of the other, because we just can’t figure out how we can have both at the same time.
Maybe we don’t trust that we matter enough. We cannot imagine anyone caring só much that they are willing to stay, while we pursue our dreams. We cannot imagine that someone will encourage us and stay connected. “Fly on your wings to your destination, I’ll hold you in my heart with unconditional love and acceptance. I’ll wait for you to return.” We think we have to give up on ourselves, hide certain aspects to get the love and acceptance we so long for.
My client is not alone in this. I have certainly thought that more than once. And you probably too.
Today he comes back. He seems tender. He tells me about a conversation he had with his fiancee. He is moved as he shares. He told her he wanted a relationship that was based on their vulnerability, that honored their independence and nurtured their togetherness. She was touched as she listened. She had tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. She wants that too. It is só important to her. She is grateful he brings it up. She feels hopeful that they have what it takes to venture into this unknown land of radical honesty and loving connection.
Today I celebrate that my client is my teacher. Thank you, Frank, for allowing me to witness how vulnerability, self-connection, and authentic expression shift relationships to new levels of intimacy, trust and tenderness. I feel honored working with you.
You want to explore how you can be vulnerable, authentic and intimate with your partner? Contact me 512-589-0482 for a complimentary, discovery session. I would be honored to talk with you.
Can you write about something when you are failing at it more often than you like?
When I started blogging, I wanted to write about marriage (as in any intimate, romantic, long-term relationship). I am passionate about any relationship, and marriage seems the pinnacle of relationships. Marriage was the topic of my heart.
Image courtesy to Deviantart
As I wrote, I realized that I suck at marriage. I broke up two long-term relationships, divorced once, and now struggle to transform anger, resentment and jealousy into love and compassion. Who am I to think that I can add anything of value about this topic?
I am better at friendships.
Well, of course.
In a friendship you can hide
You feel frustrated and don’t respond to emails. You meet for lunch and only talk about small things. You don’t tell your friend you don’t understand her partner choice, “out of respect”.
In a marriage you have less exit options
You live in the same house, you declared your commitment in public, his/her choices have a direct impact on you. And because of the amount of time spent together, your partner becomes more important. Their opinion of you becomes more important. You get more attached to their approval of who you are and what you do.
That’s why marriage can be challenging.
David Schnarch writes about it in his book Passionate Marriage.
A healthy, happy and safe marriage is a marriage between two differentiated people
People who can balance their needs for togetherness and for autonomy. People who are able to calm themselves down, when their partner loses it. People who are able to hold on to themselves, when their partner pushes to conform. People who are willing to pause their dream to accommodate their loved one. People who are willing to make choices that nurture all needs. People who are willing to love wholeheartedly, knowing they will once lose it all, death is inevitable.
David Schnarch claims there are three routes to differentiation.
- Unilateral self-disclosure: to disclose something vulnerable and important about yourself, without expecting the other person to do the same. A sort of emotional undressing, while the other keeps their clothes on.
- Self-validation: the ability to validate your own experience, when no one agrees, the ability to pursue your own dreams, when no one supports, the ability to believe in yourself, when no one else seems to.
- Conflict: the courage to stand up for your truth and desires, even if you fear disconnection and rejection.
I felt very relieved when I read number three. I have plenty of experience with conflict.
Maybe I’m not so ignorant about this topic after all. I might just be differentiating.
What if that is my expertise?
You want my help to transform conflict into differentiation? Call me at 512-589-0482 or email me to schedule a complimentary, discovery session.